Recipe: Chestnut, Sourdough and Rum Christmas cake

Recipe: Chestnut, Sourdough and Rum Christmas cake


250g chopped prunes or figs

250g raisins

130g Candied Orange Peel

200g shelled pecans

150ml dark rum

125g crème fraiche

50g Black Bee Honey

150g dark Muscovado sugar

2 teaspoons Steenberg Organic Allspice Powder

250g tin of vanilla sweetened chestnut spread

75g cold unsalted butter, chopped

3 medium eggs

100g sourdough starter, mixed 1:1

75g Mulino Marino Organic Chestnut Flour

125g Marriage's Finest Strong White Bread flour

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

extra rum or brandy to finish

A dark rich fruit cake with a tang of sourdough that slices well and keeps for a few months perfectly if wrapped well and stored in a tin. The crème fraiche is boiled with the sugar and baked into the cake, so like butter it will add richness and keep perfectly well. The excellent Mulino Marino Organic Chestnut Flour adds a subtle earthy background to the sweetness of the fruit and honey.


On Stir-up Sunday place the prunes, raisins, candied orange and nuts in a mixing bowl. Pour over the rum, stir well, then leave overnight or up to a week longer covered so the fruit softens and soaks up with spirit. If you’re in a rush, do a microwave quick soak of the fruit (see tip).

Put the crème fraiche, honey and muscovado sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring well. Pour this into a large mixing bowl, whisk in the allspice, chestnut puree and butter until melted and smooth. Beat in the sourdough, then the eggs then whisk in the chestnut flour. Stir in the dried fruit, reserving any soaking rum (see tip) then mix in the flour and bicarbonate.

Line the base and sides of a round 23cm diameter spring-form cake tin, and heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/335°F/gas 3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 90-120 minutes or until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly then spoon 2 tablespoons of rum over the surface. Cover the cake top lightly to stop it drying then leave until completely cold. Remove from the cake tin, wrap well in foil and store until Christmas in a cool dark place, spooning a tablespoon of rum over the top each week until you decorate it.


1. Microwave quick-soak: put fruit in microwave safe bowl with spirit, cover with cling film but poke an air vent hole in, and heat on full power for about 4-5 minute until very hot. Remove from oven, peel off the cling film carefully to avoid steam burning you, then stir well and leave until warm before using.

2. If there is any leftover soaking liquid, don’t put into the cake mix. Hold it back and spoon over the cake in place of spirit while the cake is warm, and the reminder over the next few days.