Christmas Winter Wonderland Traybake

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: One 12-by-8 1/2-inch loaf
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1 1/8 pounds mixed dried fruit

2 1/4 ounces dried cranberries 

5 tablespoons rum, Marsala, port or brandy (use apple juice or tea for a child-friendly version) 

9 ounces self-rising flour 

18 tablespoons (9 ounces) butter, softened 

9 ounces light brown sugar 

5 free-range eggs 

2 tablespoons ground ginger 

1 tablespoon mixed spice (see Cook's Note)

1 vanilla bean, seeds only (or 3 drops vanilla extract) 

Pinch baking powder 

Pinch salt 

3 tablespoons milk or water, optional 

Sugar Syrup:

1 3/4 ounces maple syrup

1 3/4 ounces sugar 

1 3/4 ounces rum, brandy or water 

1 orange, grated zest only 

Meringue Topping:

1 1/4 pounds granulated sugar

8 free-range egg whites 

To Serve:

Edible glitter, for sprinkling, optional


Special equipment:
a pastry piping bag with a 1/2-inch tip (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-by-8 1/2-inch roasting pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dried fruit, cranberries, alcohol and a little flour together in a bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and light brown sugar together in a bowl, then beat in 2 of the eggs and half of the flour until well combined, then beat in the remaining eggs and flour. Stir in the ginger, mixed spice, dried fruit mixture, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add a little water or milk if the mixture is too thick (it should just drop off a spoon).
  4. Spoon the mixture into the pan and bake in the oven until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. If the cake starts to look dark on top and is still not ready, cover it with foil to prevent further browning.
  5. For the sugar syrup: Meanwhile, heat the maple syrup, sugar, alcohol and orange zest in a pan until the sugar has just dissolved. Boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and brush liberally with the sugar syrup.
  7. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F.
  8. For the meringue topping: Whisk the sugar and two egg whites together in a bowl, then add two more egg whites and whisk well until the mixture thickens and stiff peaks form. Add two more egg whites and whisk again until stiff peaks form. Add the final two egg whites and keep whisking until very stiff peaks form.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan and remove the parchment paper.
  10. Put some of the meringue mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain nozzle and pipe peaks all over the cake, or spread the meringue all over the cake and use a knife to form peaks.
  11. Return the cake to the oven until the meringue is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. (Check every 10 minutes to ensure that it does not burn.)
  12. Increase the oven to 350 degrees F and cook until the meringue is golden brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Watch the cake closely as the meringue burns easily.
  13. To serve, sprinkle with edible glitter, if using, and drizzle with any remaining sugar syrup. 

Cook’s Note

Mixed spice is a spice blend similar to pumpkin pie spice that is popular in British cooking.

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