As a kid, I pretty much hated this cake. Which was somewhat of a tragedy as this is the most traditional and most common NZ “celebration cake” – at Christmas time and a at wedding in NZ you can be almost sure to get something like this. The funny thing is that as the years went by I grew to like it. Or maybe it was just this particular “South Pacific” version, which courtesy of a family friend I stumbled upon just a couple of years ago.
As this year, I decided to try to show the locals a bit of the flavours of a Kiwi Christmas – this cake pretty much immediately came to my as a good ‘un. As it tastes good, feeds heaps and is very traditional Kiwi. It also has so little flour in it that I figured that it’d work very well as a glutenfree cake. Which was proven 100% true.
This cake is super-rich, heavy and decadent. Expect it to take the guts of a week to get through the whole thing, even with a decent sized crowd. But on the other hand, that’s fine as it keeps very well.
- 185g Brazil nuts
- 185g pecan or walnuts
- 125g stoned dates
- 125g mixed peel
- 125g red glace cherries
- 125g green glace cherries
- 185g seedless raisins
- 125g brown sugar
- 90g (about ¾C) gluten-free flour
- 1t xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 4 eggs
- 1T brandy, rum or vanilla
- 125ml apricot jam
- Extra nuts or cherries for decoration
Notes about the ingredients
I’m not really sure about the xanthan gum – which if you don’t know what it is, is a ‘gluten-replacement’ i.e. something that tries to match the elasticity of gluten without being bad for you.
If you can’t find all of the ingredients you can replace some of them. I replaced some of the raisins with dried apricots and dried cranberries – both of which worked out very well. As to the candied peel, it might be a kinda strange flavour if you’re not used to it. I hated it as a kid, but these days I think it brings a much needed kinda sharpness to balance all the richness of the nuts and sweetness of the fruit. But feel free to replace it without something else if you’re not a fan.
- Place nuts, dales, peel, cherries and raisins in mixing bowl and stir.
- Stir in sugar and sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
- Beat eggs until smooth, then add to mixture with brandy and mix well.
- Place mixture in tin and press down well with the back of a spoon.
- Bake in lower half of slow oven (150 C ) for 1 1/2 hours or until skewer comes out clean (for me, with our oven, this was closer 1:15 so it pays check a bit before time). Cool on wire rack.
- Heat sieved jam until lukewarm then brush over top of cake.
- To decorate, arrange extra whole nuts and halved cherries on top then brush more jam over fruit and nuts, leave to set.