Saturday, 22 December 2012

(Christmas) Fruit Cake

I've never made a real Christmas cake. I think I must have been put off the idea, years ago, when I saw that a fruit cake should be made 1 to 3 months in advance to allow the flavors to mature.
Now, I'm the kind if person that starts buying Christmas presents in September, but making a cake that far in advance (unless it's going in the freezer! ) is something I just cannot bring myself to do. But I do enjoy fruity, boozy, nutty cakes (hmmn.... I have a few friends who fit that description, too!) so I have my version of a fruit cake that I bring out at this time of year. Conveniently, you can bake it one day in advance!
It's not as heavy and rich as a 3 month-matured Christmas cake, but (in my opinion!) it has just the right amount of spice, fruit and alcohol to capture the Christmas "spirit"  ;  )

An interesting addition to the ingredients of this cake, is a layer of marzipan/ almond paste that is baked inside the cake. To do this you half fill the cake pan with batter, lay down a layer of rolled-out and cut-to-size almond paste, and top with the remaining batter. As it bakes, the marzipan melts into the centre and adds a delicious layer of taste to the cake. A lot of people really don't like the taste of marzipan, so you can of course omit it.


Rich Fruit Cake

Preheat oven to 150'C
Prepare cake pans with baking parchment **

225g flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
175g butter
175g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
1tbs golden syrup
100g glacé cherries, chopped
300g raisin/ sultana/ currant mix
50g slivered almonds
50g mixed peel, chopped
3tbs sherry + more
Marzipan/ almond paste for the middle layer.


**Wondering what size can tins to use? This recipe makes enough for one 20cm /8inch round tin; or a 18cm / 7inch square tin. Or 3 mini 10cm/ 4inch round cakes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time - add a tablespoon of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling.
Then add the syrup and sherry. Fold in the dry ingredients, fruits, peel and almonds.
Spoon half the mixture into the cake pan, followed by a layer of marzipan - the thickness of this layer depends on your taste - make sure there are no air bubbles under the marzipan. Spoon in the rest of the batter, and smooth the top.

Place a small ramekin containing water in the oven, this will help keep the cake moist.

Bake at 150' C for approx 2 hours (1 cake) or 1 hour (3 small cakes) - until the cake is firm.
(if you try testing with a skewer, you'll go through the marzipan layer, and the inside of the cake will seem undercooked, when it is in fact done).

Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the cake tins. Prick the surface of the cake with a skewer, and spoon some more sherry onto the cake while it's still warm.


The traditional icing is a layer of marzipan, then white Fondant....but that of course is up to you : )

A mini (10cm) Christmas cake 

Happy baking!

xxM

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