I have a bad cold and it makes me cross and grumpy and irritable. Unfortunately, I really can’t blame my laziness on this cold, no matter how much wool I pull over anybody’s facial features. I’ve had this cold for three days; I have been sitting on this post for two months. That’s an awful lot of unaccounted-for cold-free days ….
But hey, it’s the holiday season and who knows, perhaps I can make a fashionably late grand entrance to the party with this Christmas Cake. Especially if I tell you that this is no ordinary Christmas Cake. For this, my dear readers, is a diabetic-friendly Christmas Cake. An oxymoron? (and no, that is not a bright blue alcoholic cocktail, which for some strange reason is the first picture that always pops into my head when I hear that word). Cake and low-sugar can, and do, belong in the same sentence sometimes.
Back in November, I was invited to contribute a recipe for the Active Brokers Diabetes Cookbook. The plan was that this recipe book would be full of useful recipes for people living with diabetes, including health information and a series of sweet and savoury recipes that are easy to make at home.
Having grown up in a family where mealtimes had to take into account my Dad’s type 1 diabetes, the daily routines of carbohydrate monitoring and insulin injections have always been very familiar to me. Fortunately, medical advances have meant that my Dad can now take a more flexible approach to managing his diet than ever before. I was therefore especially interested in taking part in this project.
Knowing that Christmas was just around the corner, I thought that it would be fun to produce a festive recipe ………. all of which led to the creation of The Diabetic Christmas Cake. It is substantially lower in sugar and fat content than the traditional Christmas cake and has a deep, rich flavour. It can be kept for up to two weeks, or it can be frozen.
Perhaps I should rename it, ‘The Diabetic New Year Cake’ ….. or, ‘The Diabetic Cake You Wish You’d Had For Christmas’….. or ‘Next Year’s Diabetic Christmas Cake’ …? Miracles can be worked with a little rebranding ;-)
The Diabetic Christmas Cake
125g (4 oz) unsweetened dried apple rings, roughly chopped
50g (2 oz) dried cherries
175g (6 oz) currants
125g (4 oz) dried apricots, roughly chopped
175g (6 oz) golden sultanas
5 tbsp (75 ml) brandy
250g (8 oz) half-fat spread
75g (3 oz) dark muscovado sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
250g (8 oz) self-raising wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp (30 ml) skimmed milk
125g (4 oz) mixed nuts
3 tbsp (45 ml) reduced-sugar apricot jam
Mix together the apple, cherries, currants, apricots and sultanas in a large bowl and pour over the brandy. Cover and leave to soak for 12 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F).
Lightly grease a 20 cm (8-inch) round cake pan. Line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment. Wrap a folded length of brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string.
Place the half-fat spread and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon and orange zests and stir to combine. Gradually beat in the eggs and almond extract.
Stir the flour, salt and spices together with a whisk, then add to the mixing bowl. Fold in gently until thoroughly incorporated.
Fold in the soaked fruit and milk.
Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the top. Decorate carefully with the mixed nuts.
Bake in the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake (cover the surface lightly with tin foil towards the end of the baking time to prevent overbrowning).
Place the tin on a wire rack and leave the cake to cool slightly before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack. Carefully peel away the baking parchment.
To glaze the cake, warm the apricot jam until runny and brush over the nuts. The cake can be decorated with a wide coloured ribbon tied around the side.