Sunday, December 16, 2012

Certosino (Italian Christmas cake)


  • 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 125g (1 1/4 cups) Dutch cocoa (see top tips)
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each nutmeg, ground cloves and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g assorted glace fruit (peaches, apricots, pears, figs, cherries - see top tips), finely chopped
  • 75g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 220g (1 1/3 cups) blanched almonds, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 50g (1/3 cup) pine nuts, roasted
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) red wine
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 530g (1 1/2 cups) honey

Glace fruit topping

  • 350g assorted glace fruit (peaches, apricots, pears, figs, cherries, clementines - see top tips)
  • Candied cedro (citron - see top tips), thinly shaved lengthwise (optional), to serve


Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a 24cm springform pan, then line the base and side with baking paper. Sift flour with cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl. Add glace fruit, chocolate, citrus zests and nuts, then, using your hands, rub chopped ingredients through the dry ingredients to distribute evenly.

Place wine, sugar, butter and 440g (1 1/4 cups) honey, in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low–medium heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Remove from heat, then cool mixture for 10 minutes.

Make a well in the flour mixture, add honey mixture and stir until well combined. Spoon mixture into pan, and, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth the top evenly. To make topping, cut assorted glace fruit into large pieces and arrange over cake.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean (it will still be a little sticky in the middle). Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Place remaining 90g (1/4 cup) honey in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Drizzle honey over cake in the pan, then leave to cool completely in the pan.

Remove from pan and serve decorated with cedro, if using.

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