Spiced Mocha Christmas Cake

To me, this is Christmas in a cake – fragrantly spiced with the familiar flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, and bejeweled with Christmas colours. This cake is perfect as a Christmas table centrepiece, shared with friends or colleagues with a cuppa, or left as a snack for grateful Santa.

Ingredients
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml hot water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee (I use decaf)

5 tablespoons icing sugar
1½ – 2 tablespoons hot water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 dried oranges, halved
A good handful each of dried cranberries, pepitas, shaved coconut and flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160ºC fan-forced. Line a 24cm loaf pan with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, lightly toast the coconut and almonds in a non-stick saucepan.

To make the icing, combine vanilla icing sugar and 1½ – 2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave it to thicken slightly before pouring on the cake. Decorate with orange pieces, cranberries, pepitas, shaved coconut and flaked almonds. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘Christmas Cupcakes’ in Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess

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