If ever I was to write a cookery book, there would be entire chapters devoted to fruit cakes and plum puddings.
Leafing through my tear-sheet recipe collection, I seem to have amassed an inordinate amount of christmas cake and pudding recipes, to the exclusion of almost everything else. I find the look of rich, golden fruit cakes photographed in pre-christmas publications very seductive and cannot resist adding another to my stash. However, despite this virtual fruit cake catalogue, it is the reliable old standby that I opt for every time.
My preference is for a boiled rather than creamed (beating butter and sugar together) fruit cake because the initial bubbling of the fruit in the liquids produces a dark syrupy mix, full of fruity flavour – and it’s easier!
1kg mixed dried fruit
100g glace cherries, halved
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup water
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbspn treacle
2 tspns grated orange rind
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1/3 cup SR flour
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
small packet of blanched almonds to decorate
- Pre-heat oven to 150 deg C.
- Grease and line a deep 19cm square cake tin with two layers of paper (brown paper or baking paper). Allow paper to extend above the sides of the tin.
- Place fruit, butter, sugar, sherry and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 mins. Take off heat and cool.
- Stir eggs, treacle and rind into fruit mixture.
- Stir in sifted dry ingredients.
- Spread into prepared tin and top with blanched whole almonds.
- Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Depending on the type of oven you have it could take longer, so check by testing with a skewer. If the skewer comes out of the middle of the cake dry it’s ready.
- Cool in the tin.
Not done yet. The next part is to wrap and store. Mine is currently swaddled in its original baking paper, a layer of foil and an aesthetically pleasing tea-towel. If you can, pop it away in the pantry for a month. By early December, you will be rewarded with a nicely matured seasonal cake to share with family, and friends who drop by for coffee.
Postscript: could not resist including an image of the divine Mildara Chestnut Teal Sherry bottle label – which is equally as seductive as the cake glossies!