Wine, chocolate and fruit – not an obvious combination, but it’s a lovely one that really works. This is a strong, dark cake that’s wonderfully versatile. Serve it with afternoon tea or as an after dinner dessert, or just as an “anytime snack”. It will please and impress on all occasions.
Makes: 10 – 12 slices
Time: About 90 minutes + cooling time, then 30 minutes to decorate
Need: A 900g/2lb loaf tin
(Simply double the ingredients to make two loaves together, as shown below.)
- 160g/6oz unsalted butter, softened
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 60g/2oz cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- 275g/10oz golden caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 60g/2oz golden raisins (or black if golden not available)
- 60g/2oz glace cherries, quartered
- 200ml/7fl oz red wine (reasonably good quality)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / Fan 160°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Either grease and line the tin or simply insert a paper liner. (NB I’m all in favour of paper liners, mainly for their convenience, but on this occasion the standard ones I normally use couldn’t contain the amount of mixture that I had, so I reverted to lined tins. I used fresh liners to sit the finished loaves in prior to delivering them.)
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and whisk together. Toss the raisins and cherries in the flour until coated.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, adding 1 tsp of the flour mixture each time. Stir in the vanilla extract.
4. Gently fold a third of the dry mixture into the wet mixture, followed by a third of the wine. Repeat this twice until the batter mixture is complete. Spoon this into the prepared tin.
5. Tap the tin on the work surface to settle the mixture, then bake for 50– 60 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
6. Leave in the tin for 5 – 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
(Use the lower measurements for a moderate layer, the higher measurements for a thick layer)
- 75g/2.5oz – 125g/4.5oz dark chocolate + knob of butter (optional)
- 50g/1.75oz – 75g/2.5oz unsalted butter, softened
- 50g/1.75oz – 75g/2.5oz cream cheese (or mascarpone), softened
- 150g/5.5oz – 200g/7oz icing sugar
- 1 – 2 tablespoon milk
- Sprinkles & gold spray (optional)
1. Melt the chocolate, either in a bain marie or the microwave, stirring regularly.
2. Put the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat together using an electric mixer.
3. Sift in the icing sugar and add the milk. Stir first to incorporate the icing sugar then beat with the mixer until smooth.
4. Add in the melted chocolate and stir until combined.
5. Either spread on with a spoon and palette knife or pipe on, then add sprinkles and gold spray if desired. (I played around making patterns with a fork, but wasn’t impressed by that, so stuck with a plain surface + sprinkles etcetera.)
I made two of these loaves together, simply doubling the ingredients. It all went well, except that when I realised the mixture was too much for the two loaf tin liners, I had to quickly line the tins more traditionally, with baking parchment to give a bit more space, then tip the two mixtures into the tins. This was a very messy (but tasty) job. The other problem – no, not a problem, more of a sacrifice – was to raid my wine cellar (the garage) and use nearly a whole bottle of reasonable plonk. I did test eat a slice from one of the cakes and it was good, so it was worth it and I still had a glassful left.