Sunday, 16 December 2007

Multi-Purpose Fruit Cake

This is a recipe from my ‘Christmas Cakes and Puddings book’ from Australian Women’s Weekly . Their recipes are exceptionally reliable. I have spent a while pondering what other purposes the cake may have to justify the ‘multi-purpose’ in the title and think it must mean that this fruit cake would work in any situation where fruit cake is needed i.e. the whole gamut of hatches, matches and despatches as well as seasonal events. I don’t think you could use it stop leaky taps or wedge under a wobbly table, for example.

My fruit cake will remain nude this year. No one in my family really likes the marzipan and hard icing so why bother with it? Sure, it looks pretty but why slave over something that everyone is going to discretely pick off and discard on their plate? A paper ruffle and a plastic Santa will suffice!

The great thing about this sort of fruit cake is that you can tailor it to your tastes. For instance, if you loathe glacé cherries, omit them – as long as you maintain the overall weight of fruit in this cake it doesn’t matter what you choose to put in or leave out. I left out the glacé apricots simply because I didn’t have any and increased the amount of raisins, sultanas and currants accordingly. What pleased me with this recipe was the inclusion of dates and prunes – often overlooked in Christmas cakes; as I have a weakness for both they were a most welcome addition!

Here is the mix waiting to go into the tin:

Dense fruit cake is fascinating when you think about it. Study a slice of cut fruit cake and you will notice how little ‘cake’ there actually is. The batter is merely a way of holding the fruit together. OK, perhaps it isn’t that fascinating.....(note to self – new year resolution: to get out more)

Here is the finished cake - it was a really gloomy day when I took this photo so I needed electric lighting; it seems to have caused some light reflection on the surface for which I apologise.

As this is for Christmas I cannot show you a cut slice yet - I will add a photo of a slice after Christmas. However, by photographing the side and base of the cake, you will get an idea of what it will look like:

Whenever a recipe requires dried fruits to be soaked in alcohol I recommend soaking for as long as possible; my preferred time is 24 hours in advance. I leave the spoon next to the dish and whenever passing stop and give the mix a stir. This seems to work well. Here is all the fruit freshly soaked in brandy glistening like jewels:

Post Christmas update:

The cake has now been cut and eaten so here are some update photos. This is how I served it - very simple indeed!

Here is a cut slice and the cut cake:

250g sultanas
250g raisins
140g chopped seeded prunes
110g currants
125g chopped glacé apricots
110g chopped seeded dates
60g chopped glacé cherries
125ml brandy
250g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
200g brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 eggs
225g plain flour
75g self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
60ml brandy for brushing on the hot cake

How to make:

- The day before you make the cake, place all the fruit (i.e. the first 7 items on the ingredients list) into a large bowl and pour on the brandy. Cover the bowl and, whenever you think of it, give the fruit a stir so it evenly absorbs the brandy.
- Preheat oven to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/ Gas mark 2 and line either a 19cm square tin or 23cm round tin with greaseproof paper. As the baking time is so long, use two or three layers of paper and make sure that the paper comes up approximately 5cm above the edge of the tin. This protects the cake from burning.
- Beat the butter, lemon rind and sugar in a bowl until well combined.
- Add the honey and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. By the time you reach the final egg the mix may start to curdle a little but don’t worry – nothing bad will happen!
- Stir in the fruit and then stir in the flours and spice.
- Spoon into the cake tin and even the surface.
- Bake for approximately 3 hours or until a skewer comes out cleanly. I’d recommend checking the cake after 2 ½ hours. If the top is colouring too much, put a sheet of baking paper over it. Mine took exactly 3 hours.
- This is where the recipe differs to other fruit cakes you may have made. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, brush on the extra brandy.
- Wrap the cake, still in the tin, tightly in foil. What this does is make the cake extra moist. Leave to cool completely over night.
- The next day, remove the cake from the tin and wrap in fresh greaseproof paper and foil. Keep in an airtight container until you are ready to use.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


Anamika said...

dear cake crusader

i like your fruit cake recipe and the illustration through the medium of the pictures.

a fellow cake lover

Anonymous said...

Have you put the marzipan on yet? I am dithering about whether to use it just on the top, when to put it on or and having doubts about using it at all.

The Caked Crusader said...

I'm not going to put marzipan and icing on - I've noticed people only pick it off and it detracts from the simple beauty of the cake.

When I have used marzipan and icing in the past I tend to do it about a week before Christmas. Always let the cake cool thoroughly and settle before doing it - ideally about a week after baking.
Good luck!

Anamika said...

Thank you caked crusadar for passing by my blog and leaving a wonderful commnet. I wish you,your family & your friends a very happy Christmas and exciting New 2008.

Margaret said...

I love Australian Women's Weekly books, they are a real joy. The cake looks delicious - where would you get glace apricots from?
Happy Christmas and New Year. Mx

Sagari said...

fruit cake looks delecioussssssss

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Margaret

In truth, I have no idea where to get glace apricots from. Anyone have any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Try here

The Caked Crusader said...

Thanks Clarice!