Amazing Cakes #17: Traditional Fruit Cake

I was far too disorganised to bake my Christmas Cake early, let alone on Stir Up Sunday! I got as far as buying and mixing the dried fruit up and soaking it in some port on that day. I did manage my Christmas pudding as that steamed away in my slow cooker while I did other things. I was even thinking of not making a Christmas cake at all this year. Things as you know are very different this year and it will just be my own household for Christmas: Mr S, myself and our two grown up children. Neither of my children like Christmas cake. Mr S and I like it but by the time we get round to eating it in the New Year I am always on my usual New Year Diet!

Last year’s Christmas Cake leftovers are still in the same tin I put them in back in January. We had one slice each I think on New Year’s Day after I had cut some off for my mum to have. I think I love making the Christmas Cake just to decorate it to be honest! Last year’s cake was decorated with Christmas roses and holly leaves but I just do not have the time this year. Mr S suggested buying a small cake from M&S. I was outraged! Telling a cake baker to buy a cake is not what you do and although I love M&S food and their cakes are lovely, there’s nothing like homemade.

In the end I decided on a compromise. I would like something like a Christmas cake but with smaller bitesize portions and less marzipan and icing. So I found a recipe in the Amazing Cakes book which would do just that. There is a recipe for a traditional fruit cake but there are adaptations to and ingredient quantities for baking the cake in various size tins. I was pleased to see one option was for a shallow traybake cake. This meant I could cut the cake into tiny amounts and only be able to ice the top as well.

Finally, my cake was baked last Monday morning when I had a day off work. I was at home catching up and so glad I could finally put all that dried fruit soaking into a cake instead of seeing it in a bowl covered in a clean tea towel on the worktop.

Now you may be wondering why I had soaked my dried fruit in port when usually it is traditional to soak it in brandy. Well that’s because I forgot to get some brandy and we had a bottle of port left over from Christmas last year. We ended up with two bottles of it given to us and it’s not something we really drink much of except at Christmas. I have a port with my Christmas pudding or with cheese and that’s about it! So the dried fruit was soaked in some port and it did smell lovely. I will feed the cake once a week until I get round to icing it nearer Christmas.

To start the cake itself I had to melt butter and dark brown sugar in a pan on the hob. The recipe asked for molasses sugar but I couldn’t find any so used dark brown muscovado sugar instead. Once this had melted I took it off the heat.

I then weighed out some plain flour and various spices, such as ginger, cinnamon and ground mixed spice. The mixed spice was in place of ground cloves and nutmeg as I wanted to use what I had in the cupboard. Then I added beaten eggs and the whole mixture was carefully folded in before spooning carefully into my prepared traybake tin.

As it was a traybake tin, the cake’s cooking time was a lot shorter had it been in a different and deeper tin. It only needed roughly about an hour but I checked with a skewer.

The cake doesn’t look all that attractive and looks very bumpy but I am sure it will look much better once it is decorated! I will update the post as soon as that’s done nearer Christmas.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cherry And Almond Loaf

It was Friday afternoon and I wanted to bake something. I try to make different things but it always ends up being brownies. This week, though I hadn’t got any chocolate in and there was no way I was going out to our local Co-op just for chocolate. Even though restrictions have been lifted, I am still really anxious when going out and only go out to shops if I have to. I looked in my baking cupboard and saw I had most of a tub of glace cherries and some ground almonds. Cherries and almonds together sounded perfect, just like Cherry Bakewells! So the idea for a Cherry and Almond Loaf cake came about.

CHERRY AND ALMOND LOAF

You need a 2lb loaf tin (greased and lined or you can use a ready made loaf tin liner available from all good cookware shops)

Serves 8-12 depending on how generous you are!

Ingredients:

175g soft margarine, such as Stork

175g caster sugar

200g self raising flour, sifted

50g ground almonds

3 medium free range eggs

1 tsp almond extract

150g glace cherries

  1. Wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the cherries. Then cut them into halves. I like nice big chunks of cherries in my cakes. Rinse and dry them again as often you find syrup inside them as well! Toss the cherries into a tablespoonful of the self raising flour reserved for the rest of the cake. This should help to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake when cooked.
  2. Put all the ingredients (except for the cherries) into a large mixing bowl and mix together until well combined.
  3. Fold in the cherries.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf tin.
  5. Bake in the oven for 1- 1 1/4 hours at 180oC/ 160oC fan/ 350oF/ Gas 4. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

If you bake the recipe, do let me know if you like it. My daughter doesn’t like glace cherries but she thought that you could substitute chopped dried apricots instead. They would work well with ground almonds.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx