Gâteau de Noel aux Fruits Confits

This is an Italian style of Christmas cake, with its satisfying blend of anise, chocolate, and candied fruits. I love to slice it thin and include it on a plate of Christmas cookies, or serve it after dinner with Brie. It is a dry rather than moist fruitcake.

1-½ cups (375ml) delicate honey, such as lavender

3 tablespoons (45ml) water

4 tablespoons (2 oz;60g) unsalted butter

5 cups (725g) all-purpose, unbleached flour

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (250ml) thick apple sauce

2-½ teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon warm water

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 teaspoons anise seed

½ pound (250g) almonds, skinned

1/3 cup (50g) pine nuts

½ cup (2.5oz;125g) white raisins

½ pound (250g) mixed candied fruit

7 ounces (210g) bittersweet chocolate, diced

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ºF (180ºC). Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan.
  2. Place the honey and the water into a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat and heat gently, just until the honey melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
  3. Sift the flour and the salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Pour in the honey and the butter and mix until it is thoroughly blended. Mix in the apple sauce until combined. Place the soda into a small bowl and mix in the water, then add to the batter and mix until combined.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be thick and somewhat stiff.
  5. Turn the dough into the bundt pan, smooth it gently into the pan and bake in the center of the oven until the cake feels firm but not dry to the touch, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan.
  6. When the cake is cool, either place it in an air tight container or thoroughly wrap it and let it sit at least 24 hours before serving.

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