Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Fruitcake

I feel guilty that, as the Caked Crusader, I can’t abide fruit cake. Never have liked it, but members of my family do and, in truth, I rather enjoy making it. It’s a satisfying cake as it won’t be rushed and always works. It is also incredibly easy to make.

Like last year, I have made my trusted Australian Women’s Weekly fruitcake but have made two changes. Firstly, I have made it in a round tin (OK, not exactly revolutionary), secondly I have used chopped crystallised ginger in place of one of the fruits – just pick your least favourite fruit ingredient and blue pencil it.

The most fun part of this recipe, because it feels so odd, is when the cake comes out of the oven. Straightaway you have to brush the additional brandy over the cake and then wrap the whole thing (the cake is still in the tin) tightly in tin foil. For the rest of the day whenever I wander past my mummified cake I can’t resist feeling the foil to see how hot it still is! It takes hours to cool down – it will take overnight.

The cake is very moist – this photo shows how the brandy seeps into the cake:

As is the way with a Christmas cake, it won’t be cut until the big day so I’ll post pictures of cut slices when that happens. My Christmas cake is always served sans marzipan and icing because it only gets picked off and left on the plate. I asked the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da), who is the main consumer of Christmas cake, whether I should put some whole blanched almonds on the top for decoration and he looked at me like I was insane. Fruitcake for him is just that.

Although I’ve called this Christmas fruitcake it would better be named Year cake for me, as the CCD is pretty much the only one who eats it and he makes it last throughout the year. The cake keeps perfectly in an airtight container and doesn’t dry out at all.

Post Christmas update:

The cake has now been cut and declared a success. The consensus was that the addition of ginger was most welcome. As always I served the cake simply with just a frill and a message!

The happy snowman frill is very cute:

You can see that the cake is moist and packed with fruit:

250g sultanas
250g raisins
140g chopped seeded prunes
110g currants
125g chopped seeded dates
110g chopped crystallised ginger
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:

- At least one 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 but don’t worry – nothing bad will happen! If curdling upsets you add a little of the flour to counter it.
- 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 2 hours 45 minutes.
- 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. This ensures 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.
- Decorate as desired.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


J.Danger said...

I always feel guilty when I hear about fruitcake. I actually like it. I always feel sheepish about admitting that I think it is good! If it is made right of course.

Cakelaw said...

What a superb looking fruitcake! I love its grandness, and I am with you - why bother with marzipan and fondant that no-one eats?