Treat yourself and your guests to a Christmas cake with a twist – from gluten-free to fresh and fruity, try a lighter take on the traditional.
Follow these tips to ensure you get the very best result every time.
Canola cooking spray is great for effectively greasing baking tins and uses just a little oil.
Be prepared. Have all your ingredients measured out before you start making the cake.
Use accurate measurements – 1 cup means a level cup and1 teaspoon, a level teaspoon. Good baking requires accuracy.
Always preheat the oven to the correct temperature.
Non-stick cake tins are the healthiest option. The flexible silicone ones are good too.
When creaming spread and sugar, you can use either a wooden spoon or electric beaters.
When folding in flour and fruit, use a large metal spoon in a figure of eight movement.
Always sift flour before adding.
Mixed spice is used in all three of the recipes but you can try ground cinnamon or ginger.
For a low-fat cake, you need to use a reduced fat spread. Check the label to see if your choice of low-fat spread is suitable for baking.
Apple puree is a great way to add moisture to low-fat cakes. You can easily make your own or look for it in the supermarket in the chutney aisle or with the canned fruits.
Cooking times are guidelines and will vary slightly depending on your oven. Fan assisted ovens are faster.
Leave cakes to cool in their tin for 10 minutes before removing.
Different cakes store for varying lengths of time. Check details at the end of each recipe.
Expert tips: Gently does it for the perfect cake
Step 1 After carefully beating in eggs one at a time, add dry ingredients to wet, using a lifting action, rather than a stirring action, to keep the mixture light.
Step 2 Gently fold in dried fruits and chocolate chips in a figure of eight motion with a large metal spoon. Over-mixing knocks the air out of the cake, making it tough.
Step 3 Leave to cool in the baking tin, then move to a wire rack. Spread the cooled cake with warmed jam. This keeps moisture in and helps the icing to stick.
Step 4 Roll out the icing to the shape of your cake. Dust your hands with a little icing sugar and lift the sheet gently, trying not to tear. Carefully position the icing over the cake.
All three cakes (see links below) can be eaten without icing or served with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Alternatively, use any of these:
Lemon cream cheese icing
Mix 250g reduced-fat cream cheese, 1/3 cup icing sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Mix until smooth.
Mix 2 cups icing sugar with enough water to make a smooth but quite thick paste. This quantity will be enough to ice each of the recipes generously.
This is the classic icing for a Christmas cake. You will need 500g ready-rolled icing to cover the Healthy Christmas cake. Traditionally, the icing would go over marzipan but our recipe forgoes this. Follow packet instructions to use ready-rolled icing.
Without icing, the Healthy Christmas cake will keep for up to five days in a sealed container. When covered with the ready-rolled icing, it will keep for up to one week.