300g cooked pumpkin
200g soft dates (weight with stones removed)
100ml maple syrup (or honey)
250ml rapeseed, sunflower or other light oil
50ml juice and zest of one orange
3 large eggs
200g plain flour
200g ground almonds
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice, finely ground
½ teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
7 cloves, finely ground
A blade of mace, powdered
The seeds from five cardamom pods, finely ground
25g dried cranberries
3 tablespoons brandy (or strong, freshly brewed tea)
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tablespoons brandy (or orange juice)
1 10 cup/2.3 litre Bundt tin (or a 20cm square or a 22cm round cake tin each about 6cm deep)
Set the oven to 180˚C.
If you do not have a non-stick cake tin, lightly brush the inside with oil, then sprinkle with two teaspoons of plain flour. Shake and rotate the tin to ensure all surfaces are coated and then turn upside down over the sink to dispense with any excess flour.
Chop the dates and put in a bowl with the orange juice and maple syrup. Put the 3 tablespoons of brandy (or hot tea) in another smaller bowl with the sultanas and cranberries. Leave both to stand while you cook the pumpkin.
For 300g of cooked pumpkin you will need a piece of pumpkin of approximately 400g with the skin on and seeds in. Scrape out the seeds with a tablespoon and wrap the pumpkin tightly in kitchen foil. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 45-60 minutes until soft. Remove the foil and allow to cool, then scrape the flesh from the skin with a metal spoon. Dispose of the skin or use for stock.
Put the dates and their soaking liquid into a blender and process until smooth. Add the oil and process again. Then add the eggs, orange zest and vanilla essence and process again until well mixed. Finally add the pumpkin and process again until completely smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl. Stir through the ground almonds. Carefully fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture, being careful not to overmix. Remove the soaked dried fruit from the brandy (or tea), squeeze to remove excess liquid and quickly fold in. Retain the brandy, if used, for the icing.
Spoon about half of the mixture into the tin. Divide the marzipan into three and roll each piece into a thick sausage about 1.5cm in diameter. Shape them to fit around the centre of the circular pan in the middle of the mixture. Spoon over the final half of the cake mix and carefully smooth the top. If baking in a square or round tin you can break the marzipan into thumbnail-sized pieces and fold gently into the mixture with the dried fruit.
Put the Bundt tin onto a baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a cooling rack set over a piece of greaseproof paper.
To make the icing, mix together the maple syrup and brandy in a small bowl. While the cake is still warm coat the whole cake with one coat of the syrup using a pastry brush. Allow to cool completely, then paint once again with the remaining syrup and brandy mixture. Then dredge the cake heavily with well-sieved icing sugar. You may need to do this several times to achieve a suitably snowy coating.
Transfer to a large plate, decorate with seasonal berries or leaves.
Provides 16 slices.