The Jerk that Stole Christmas

Merry early christmas, everyone. It’s the end of november again and therefore time for another seasonal dessert. This time, a quick and easy take on christmas cake, with a blend of jamaican-style spices.

It’s not going to be a traditional jerk flavour, since it lacks any thyme, but it’ll still bring together the fragrant peppercorn flavour of allspice and black pepper with some christmassy dried fruit and the blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves that both influences share.

A real taste of the season but also of the caribbean.

Plus, I swapped out the chillies in my old “mincemeat” recipe for a couple of scotch bonnets to give this cake a little bit of extra jamaican goodness and I strongly suggest that you do the same.

You will need:

Xcakeing

450g mincemeat

220g self-raising flour

150g butter

150g dark muscavado sugar

100g candied orange peel

100ml dark rum or non-alcoholic dark ginger wine

2 eggs

1 dried ancho chilli

2 teaspoons of cloves

2 teaspoons of allspice

2 teaspoons of black peppercorns

And, if you’re going to use a shop bought mincemeat, you may want to add a teaspoon of chilli powder, nutmeg and cinnamon to get the best out of it. Ancho alone won’t give much heat at all and commercial mincemeats often lack the full depth of flavour that you’ll find in a proper, homemade mince pie filling.

In fact, even with my scotch bonnet infused variety, my cake only managed a

2/10

Heat

in the more ancho-filled bites, which still felt as much like it came from the spices as from any chilli. It was barely medium but that just means that more of you can enjoy it, right?

After all, the flavour is far more important than the burn.

To get started on making it, ensure that your butter is roughly up to room temperature and carefully combine it – Chunk by chunk – with the flour, mixing until it forms crumbs.

From there, beat in the eggs and your choice of either rum or ginger wine, then add the muscavado sugar for that rich, dark taste.

Next, grind together your spices and add them all to the batter that you’ve made. The finer the better, to minimise any crunch.

And, likewise, you should chop the ancho and candied peel nice and thoroughly to keep their heat and flavour as evenly distributed as you can.

Xchopped

It’s not a traditional pepper for either dish but the ancho’s dried fruit flavour is perfectly at home here all the same so chuck it and the peel in now, as you add the mincemeat.

Fold them all in and transfer the mixture to a lined and greased cake tin to bake for an hour and a half at 180°c. Or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out goo-free.

A simple but effective way to produce a flavourful christmas dessert without spending months maturing a steamed pudding. And this one’s not quite as stodgy, either. Just don’t expect it to rise as much as a normal cake.

Xcake

With the shear weight of fruit in it, today’s recipe is a little dense and crumbly but, if anything, that’s par for the christmas course.

Xcakeslice

It’s still rich and earthy like a jamaican ginger cake, dark and raisiny like christmas pudding, mildly spicy and pleasantly aromatic.

The one thing that I’m not proud of with this cake is the burnt edges and they’re easily solved by baking it with a layer of silver foil over the top.

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