This vegan spiced fruit cake is a christmas staple in my house. Vegan or not, even fruit-cake-lover or not, this certosino will blow you away with its blend of fennel seeds, cinnamon, bitter chocolate and aromatic marsala!
75g of raisins (or sultanas)
30 ml of marsala (i used a fruity white (vegan-friendly) port)
350g of plain flour
2 tsp of bicarbonate soda
150g of rice malt syrup
150g of raw caster sugar
40g of nuttelex (or other vegan butter alternative)
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
375g of apples (2-2.5 medium red apples), roughly grated
200g of blanched almonds, roughly chopped
50g of pine nuts
75g of dark bitter (dairy-free) chocolate (i used whittakers), roughly chopped
75g of walnuts, roughly chopped
Soak the raisins in the marsala for 20-30 minutes (you could also leave them overnight if you have the time). Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Add the rice malt syrup, sugar, nuttelex and water to a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the fennel seeds and cinnamon. Combine the flour and bicarbonate soda in a large mixing bowl. Pour the spiced sugar mix over the flour and stir to combine.
Add the remaining ingredients, including the raisins with their soaking liquid, and stir to combine. Spoon the mix into a lined 25cm springform cake tin and place into the oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour (or until a screwer comes out clean - keeping in mind that the chocolate will melt and may skew this assessment). Keep an eye on your cake if it needs the full 1 hour, covering it at the 45 minute mark to avoid the top from getting too browned.
Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool.
To finish your certosino:
4 tablespoons of apricot jam, or orange marmalade
1/2 - 1 cup of blanched almonds (pecan halves would also work nicely)
1/2 cup of glacé cherries (or other glacé fruits of your choice), halved
Once cool, heat a little apricot jam or orange marmalade in a small saucepan and, using a pastry brush, paint the glaze over the top of your cake. Use this sticky surface to 'glue' on some glacé fruit and blanched almond 'decorations'. Brush the remaining glaze over your decorated cake.
Serve a thin slice of your gorgeous certosino with a small glass of rich fruity liqueur, espresso or even a cup of tea - merry christmas everyone!