Stained Glass Christmas Cake

Temps des Fêtes 2004
food and drink

BY: Jennifer McLagan

An American friend gave this recipe to my mother. It was so exotic to us, with its pecans, brazil nuts and bourbon. This cake doesn't improve with ageing; you could even make it Christmas Eve. Slice it thinly and you'll see that the slices are translucent and colourful just like a stained glass window. You can buy candied citrus peel but it is never as good as homemade. It is not difficult to make and it lasts.

1¼ cups (300 mL) pecan halves
1 cup (250 mL) brazil nuts
¾ cup (175 mL) crystallized ginger chunks
¾ cup (175 mL) crystallized cherries
¾ cup (175 mL) crystallized green cherries or pineapple
¾ cup (175 mL) candied citrus peel (recipe follows)
3 eggs
½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) bourbon
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) ground allspice
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground ginger
¼ tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
Pinch salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and lightly toast the nuts, about 7 minutes. In a large bowl, mix them together with the fruit and the candied citrus peel.
2. Lower the oven temperature to 300ºF (150ºC).  Line an 8 x 4-inch (1.5-L) loaf pan with aluminum foil and butter lightly.

3. Whisk the eggs with the sugar, bourbon and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Gradually whisk the sifted mixture into the egg mixture and continue whisking until smooth. Pour this over the fruit and stir until well mixed. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

4. Bake for 1¼ hours until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out cleanly. Cool in the tin, then remove and wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Makes 1 cake

Candied Citrus Peel
3 organic lemons
3 organic oranges
2 organic grapefruit
2 cups (500 mL) sugar

1. Rinse the fruit well, then dry. Cut a slice off the top and bottom of each fruit. Take each fruit and stand on one of the cut sides. Cutting down with a sharp knife remove the peel with the pith in large pieces. Keep the flesh for juice or fruit salad. If any flesh is attached to the pith, remove it. Place the peels in a large saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, pushing the peels down under the water. As they cook, they will soften and sink.

2. Drain and rinse the peels with cold water. Cut the peels into small dice. Place the sugar in the saucepan and add 1 cup (250 mL) water. Heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Add the diced peel and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After this time they will be very soft and translucent.

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove and place them, in a single layer, on a large baking sheet lined with wax paper. Leave at room temperature. After about 2 hours transfer them onto another wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Leave for another 2 hours then repeat the process. Leave the peels at room temperature for about 2 days or until dry. Once dry, place in a screw-top jar. Keeps for up to 2 months refrigerated.

Makes about 2½ cups (625 mL)

What to Serve

5 Bonus AIR MILES®