Sunday, 9 October 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

My love of Christmas or Fruit Cake is nearly as big as my love of custard tarts (but that's another blog!)....A few years back I made my first forray into the world of the christmas cake....I did a lot of research....If I'm going to do something I'm going to do it properly.  I knew just one thing....I wanted the cake to be dark...I didn't want one of those light coloured fruit cakes.  It had to be rich, dark and full of fruit....The world of the fruit cake is a complicated one....some people add this, some people add that, everyone wants to tell you their recipe is the best...I looked at them all.  I asked a lot of questions and I did a hell of a lot of googling.

In the end I decided traditional was best.... I didn't want all those added extras like jam, dates, apricots, pecans....So with that in mind I ruled out a lot of the Jamie Olivers, Bill Grangers and Rachel Allens of this world as they were the worst culprits for popping in those things that I didn't want.  So I looked back to the Margaret Fultons and Delia Smiths of this world and Delia Smith won out....Raisins, currants, sultanas, peel and glace cherries....bit of brandy,sugar, butter, flour, eggs, nutmeg, all spice, lemon & orange zest, almonds and molasses for that deep rich colour....Simple.

Anyway to cut a long story short, the cake was a hit with everyone. We loved it and it was a talking point for some time.....our family is easily think a cake kept us all happy for so long!!  The cake went into hibernation for two one has had a cake as a gift since, and I've been asked many times to make some more christmas cakes so I thought I'd start early this year.

I made two this weekend.  The first one was a little over cooked....I was using an oven that was unfamiliar territory to was an electric fan forced fancy thing....I'm used to a gas guzzling old clonker that I know and love and it never lets me down....anyway, the second cake is perfect....and here tis.......

I'm pretty proud of it....but here are a few photos of how it came about.

I soaked all of the fruit for 24 hours prior to making the cake, you can soak it for longer and I have but it works just as well for the shorter time.

I was pretty organised this time and measured out all the ingredients first.

I won't bore you with the details, but beat sugar and butter, slowly add the eggs until whipped light and fluffy, add the flour, fruit, almonds and molasses and lemon and orange zest. and into the tin, and then decorate with blanched almonds if you desire....I personally love the almonds on top, but some people prefer to ice their cake, not me...I hate cake icing so almonds it is....a pretty pattern is required here.

The next step is quite have to line the top of the cake with silicon or baking parchment so it doesn't burn on the long slow cooking process and I also like to wrap my cake tin in brown wrapping paper so the sides of the cake are protected in the oven....reminds me of one of those dogs with the cone around his head!

Three and a half hours later....

I did cut the cake that I kept for myself....I had a sneaky piece last night with a cup of was delicious.... you can see how dark the cake is and so full of fruit....there is only 225g of flour around a cup and a bit, so not a lot of batter at all, more fruit that anything else....just how I like it.

And with a little festive ribbon it turns from a fruit cake into a christmas cake.

If you would like to make your own cake the recipe is here.  I will add fruit cakes aren't cheap to make if you buy your dried fruit from the supermarket....although I was lucky all the dried fruit was on special at Woolies.  The best thing to do is take your recipe to a market and have them measure out the exact requirements you need, then there is no wastage.... at the end of the day what are you really going to do with half a bag of mixed peel and some leftover glace cherries!!

This cake lasts forever.  You do need to keep feeding the cake, so every week you open it up from it's little bed of grease proof paper and foil and feed it....that means poke holes in it with a skewer and drizzle a bit more brandy down into the holes....keeps the cake incredibly moist and gives it that beautiful smell that is so familiar of fruit cake.

I hope you give it a the fruit mince pie, that's a challenge I want to conquer.

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