4 February 2013

The Ultimate Fruit Cake

So it's not everyone's cup of tea.  Most people I know would probably prefer a nice vanilla sponge cake or a chocolate cake over a fruit cake any day.  But recently, my little baking company has had several requests for the old classic.  Below is a fantastic fruit cake recipe that I adapted from the Leith's bible.

Try and make it at least a week or two before you intend to consume it...they really mature and get even more tasty.

Firstly you need to prepare the tin.  We want the cake to cook really slowly so for this reason you need to protect the cake from the intense heat.  

  1. Cut a round piece of greaseproof paper the size of the base of the tin.
  2. Cut another piece long enough to go right round the sides of the tin.  
  3. Grease the tin (I love using an oil spray, it's so easy), place the round bases down, push the long  strip around the edge then grease again.  Now the cake won't stick to the tin.
  4. Get a newspaper, fold it over a few times so it is very thick, then tie it with string round the circumference of the tin so that the newspaper is tight against the metal (you may need someone to help you with this bit).  
Now the butter and eggs need to be at room temperature so try to remember to get these out of the fridge a good few hours before you want to make the cake.

You will need:
110g glace cherries
55g chopped mixed peel
350g raisins
250g sultanas
100g currants
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp black treacle
200ml beer or sweet cherry (I prefer beer)
50ml or a couple of glugs of rum (I use Malibu)
225g butter, room temperature
225g soft dark brown sugar
5 eggs, beaten, room temperature
285g plain flour
2 tsp ground mixed spice
100g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 170oC, 150oC fan assisted.

Measure out the raisins, sultanas and currants in a bowl.  Chop the cherries and add to the fruit.

Add the grated lemon zest, add the treacle, beer (or sherry) and 
rum and stir well.  Leave to sit cool place for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Cream the butter until soft (about 2 minutes).

Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.  Use a spatula to scape down the sides of the bowl so you incorporate everything together.

Add the eggs slowly, beating well after each addition - about 8 additions in total.  If the mixture curdles, beat in 1 tablespoon of the sifted flour.  If it does curdle, don't panic!  It will change the texture of the cake slightly but it will still taste as good.

Fold in the flour, mixed spice and ground almonds.  Then add the fruit/beer mixture and fold until all incorporated together.  

Place the mixture in the prepared tin and make a deep hollow in the middle with the back of a spoon, like this:

Bake for around 2 hours - after this time, put a skewer in the middle of the cake to check that it comes out completely clean.  If it doesn't, put back in the oven for another 15 minutes and test again.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes then turn out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap the cake in greaseproof paper and store in a airtight tin. Try to 'feed' your cake every few days:  make 5 holes in the cake with a skewer and pour over a few tablespoons of brandy.

Then, if you so wish, you are then ready to cover the cake in marzipan and icing.  

Here is one I made at Christmas time:

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