Cranberry, Orange and Nut Loaf

This simple cake makes a delicious alternative to a classic rich fruit Christmas cake. It will keep un-iced in an airtight container for a few days. Add the icing and fresh cranberry topping on the day of serving.

Serves 8-10
Ready in 1 hour 45 minutes, plus cooling

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
75g sweetened dried cranberries
50g walnuts, chopped
50g hazelnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice

Frosting

Half 400g tub ready-made royal icing
2 tsp snowflake sugar sprinkles
75g fresh cranberries
Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate (optional)

1   Preheat the oven to 170C, 150C fan, gas mark 3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line the base and up two long sides of the tin with baking parchment.

2   Place the butter, sugar, flour, spice, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Fold in the dried cranberries, nuts and orange zest and juice. 

3   Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

4   Spread the royal icing over the top of the cake. Scatter over the sugar sprinkles and fresh cranberries, plus the fresh mint sprigs if using. Leave in a cool place until set. Serve sliced.

TIP

Instead of the fresh cranberries you could scatter over more festive-themed sugar sprinkles and add a dusting of edible gold spray for a really sparkly finish.