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Playing Nigella Lawson's Date and Marmalade Christmas Cake


  • 1 cup strong black tea
  • 18 ounces Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup natural color candied cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (15 tablespoons total) coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Scant 1 cup good-quality marmalade, plus more to brush on the cake
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1 8-inch springform cake pan


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Using your springform cake pan as a template, cut out a parchment paper circle for the bottom then make a lining for the sides of the pan that is about 2 1/4 inches higher than the height of the pan itself. Do this by making a very long rectangular strip of parchment paper, then fold the long bottom edge in by about 3/4 inch, as if turning up a hem, then take a pair of scissors and snip into this hem at intervals as if to make a rough frill. Curl this around the inside of the pan, with the frilly edge flat on the bottom, and then sit your parchment circle on top of the frilled bit to hold it in place.

Make your tea: I just pour 1 cup boiling water over a tea bag, let it steep and make sure I take our the bag before adding the tea to the pan. Remove the pits from the dates, and snip each date into 4 pieces, using scissors. Halve the candied cherries, also using scissors. Of course, you can use a knife if you prefer.

Get out a saucepan that will take all the ingredients, including the tea, and put everything in it except for the almond meal, almonds and eggs. Place on the heat, stirring to mix, and stir every now and again until it comes to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The stirring not only helps the dates break up and “dissolve,” but it also keeps the heat even and stops the mixture burning on the bottom of the pan. After 10 minutes, take the pan off the heat and let the batter stand for 30 minutes; an hour wouldn’t matter. 

Stir in the almond meal and chopped almonds, followed by the beaten eggs, and when it’s all combined – though frankly I could eat batter just like this – pour it into the prepared pan and even out the top with a spatula, then bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. The sides will be coming away from the pan, and the cake, while squidgy, should leave only a slight stickiness (rather than any actual batter) on a cake tester.

Remove to a wire rack, brush with about 3 tablespoons of marmalade, and let the cake cool in its pan (if you marmalade is firm, you may need to warm it a bit first to make it brushable – 20-30 seconds in the microwave, or warmed through in a small saucepan should do). Leave for a day before eating. I like to brush a little more bitter marmalade on top again, before slicing and serving. Obviously, you must feel free to decorate further and more seasonally if you wish.

Make Ahead Note:
The cake can be made 1 week ahead. Wrap the cooled cake in a double layer of parchment paper and a layer of aluminum foil. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Store Note:
Once cut, store the cake – still wrapped in parchment paper and foil – in an airtight container for up to 1 month.