I love the idea of mulled wine at Christmas time. The thought of it warming you as you stroll round the log cabins at a continental style Christmas market. A mug of it warming your hands while you listen to the Salvation Army band playing. The steam rising from it as the carol singers, dressed in brightly coloured scarves and bobble hats, go through their selection of favourite festive medleys. There's one thing that's completely wrong with this picture – I don't like mulled wine or in fact any alcohol. Can't stand the smell let alone the taste. So when I was determined to make Christmas Bundt cake I knew I had to find an alternative to mulled wine.
With so many visits to the garden centre recently for allotment supplies I came across a large table filled with bottles of Belvoir Fruit Farms Mulled Winter Punch. It has all the fruitiness of red grapes plus elderberries and blackcurrants and also the spices of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to make it the perfect non-alcoholic substitute to mulled wine. Of course if you do actually like mulled wine then feel free to use it instead in this recipe. Do remember though that the fruit needs to soak for several hours in the liquid so do plan ahead when you are going to make it. With so much liquid in the cake mix it does make it a naturally moist cake.
I've added a selection of dried fruits such as cranberries, cherries and dates so if the traditional rich fruit Christmas cake isn't to your taste you may like to try this instead. I've made this in my Nordic Ware Jubilee Bundt tin as I love the way you can add little cranberries or other pieces of dried fruit or nuts in the natural ledges of the design. Over the top I've added 'snow' icing flavoured with orange extract. You can leave out the orange flavouring if you wish or indeed the whole icing mix. Instead you could leave it plain or just add a dusting of icing sugar over the top.
Equipment: Large mixing bowl, large saucepan, 10 cup Bundt tin
3½ oz (100g) Chopped dates
3½ oz (100g) Glacé cherries, quartered
3½ oz (100g) Dried cranberries
2 oz (55g) Cystallized ginger, chopped
3½ oz (100g) Chopped almonds
2 Oranges, juice and zest
1 tsp (5ml) Ground cinnamon
½ (2.5ml) Mixed spice
12 fl oz (350ml) Belvoir Mulled Winter Punch or Mulled Wine
9½oz (275g) Plain flour
1 tsp (5ml) Baking powder
8oz (225g) Golden caster sugar
4 tbsp (60ml) Vegetable oil
8oz (225g) Icing sugar
2-3 tbsp (30-45ml) Water
¼ tsp (1.25ml) Orange extract (optional)
Dried cranberries to decorate.
1. Put the dates, cherries, cranberries, ginger, almonds, orange juice and zest in a large bowl.
2. In a large saucepan pour in the mulled winter punch or wine and gently heat for about five minutes and then pour over the fruit and nut mixture.
3. Stir together and then leave to infuse for at least eight hours or overnight.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3 and grease the Bundt tin.
5. Add the cinnamon, mixed spice, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs and oil to the soaked mixture and stir well together.
6. Pour into the prepared Bundt and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
7. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely.
8. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and then add the water and orange extract stirring until it forms a pouring consistency. Pour over the top letting it run down the sides and then add the cranberries.