Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baker's Corner: Christmas Fruit Cake and Season's Greetings!

You know what is better than the holiday season? It is when you have family around to spread the cheer 😊 Right now, my sister and her husband are visiting us in Singapore and we sisters are busy painting the town red! In the past few days, we've been all over Singapore and we still have so many more places still to go. With all the fun we are having, it seems like time is whizzing by. I would have almost not done this post save for the fact that I had been diligently monitoring my jar of dry fruits soaked in booze in order to bake my first christmas cake (something that a dear friend inspired me to do). So, even though the relentless sightseeing, cooking and multitude of chores at home have left me hard pressed for time, I have stubbornly made up my mind to do this post no matter what!

I prepared this recipe two weeks ago. I needed a good tried and tested recipe so that my first christmas cake wouldn't end in disaster and scar me for the rest of my life! I knew that I probably might not have the time I need to go grocery shopping for specific ingredients for my cake once my sister and my brother-in-law arrived so once I settled on a recipe, I finished shopping for all the ingredients much in advance. As is a habit with me, I didn't follow a single recipe for this. I read through several recipes on various websites and blogs and having watched more than a dozen Christmas specials on the Food Network, I had a fair idea of what would go into my cake. I was quite certain about what dry fruits I wanted in my cake so I added only the ones that I like. As I mentioned earlier, the fruits were soaking in a jar of rum for about a month prior to the baking process. I didn't want the cake to have too many nuts in it so I went easy on that. I also infused my cake with a variety of fragrant spices like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla with an added perfume from orange zest. It goes without saying that the smell coming from the oven during the baking process was tantalising! The cake turned out sweet, aromatic and moist....just like I wanted it to be. The dry fruits and nuts add a richness to the cake  which made us want to come back for more. So, I can assuredly say that my Christmas fruit cake was a resounding success and this will mark the beginning of a new baking tradition in our household 😇



I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May this Christmas be bright and cheerful and may the New Year begin on a prosperous note!

To spread some festive cheer, here are some pics that I took during my recent outings in Singapore with my sister in tow 👯

Happy holidays!



I
Christmas Fruit Cake

Soaking time for the dry fruits: Preferably a few weeks to two months in advance
Preparation time: 15 min
Baking time: 60-75 min
Serves: 6-8
Recipe category: Dessert/Western
Recipe level: Easy


Ingredients:

For soaking the fruits:
2 cups dry fruits (such as raisins, sultanas, currants, cranberries, glazed cherries, apricots, figs, prunes, candied citrus peels, dates)
1 cup brandy/rum

For the cake:
150 gm all-purpose flour       
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 
150gm unsalted butter 
100gm dark brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla essence 
2 tbsp orange marmalade
1/4 tsp  orange zest 
100gm chopped walnuts & pecans


Method:

1. Soak the fruits in rum a few weeks, preferably a couple of months ahead of baking the cake. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Give the container a shake once in a while.

This is how the dry fruits will look at the end of the soaking period.


2. On the day that you decide to bake your cake, measure out and keep all your ingredients at room temperature. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices (ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C and line the base and sides of a 23cm (9-inch) round tin or a 20cm (8-inch) square tin with a layer of greaseproof paper. You will need the side lining to be a good 8 cm higher than the tin.




3. If you would like your cake to be particularly moist, blitz one quarter of the soaked fruit in a food processor to make a paste, and stir back into the rest of the fruit.

4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Grate in the zest of your orange and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the marmalade. Add the flour into the butter mixture little by little and beat well. Finally, fold in the soaked fruit and nuts.





5. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin, tap to ensure the surface is even and bake in the oven for about 60 to 75 min. Keep a tray of boiling hot water at the lowest rack of the oven. Check after an hour and bake until a skewer comes out clean.



6. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick holes in the cake with a toothpick brush with a little more booze. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove.

7. Wrap and seal the cake with parchment paper, followed by aluminum foil; cling wrap it and pop it in a ziploc bag. Store in an airtight container for 2–12 weeks. During this time, feed the cake the alcohol of your choice by gently pouring it over the top and rewrapping.

8. Serve the cake as it is or dusted with icing sugar.





I
P.S. - This post has been submitted to a Holiday Baking event hosted by Ammaji Recipes

Notes:
  • Cream the butter and sugar very well until light and fluffy and use room temperature eggs otherwise the eggs may seem to "curdle" when you beat them in. If this happens, don't worry. Once you add in the flour, everything goes back to normal 👍
  • This cake is quite sweet so if you don't like your cakes very sweet, you can cut down on the sugar content
  • Good quality dry fruits translates into a good fruit cake
  • You can substitute rum with brandy, whisky or cognac. Fruits can be soaked in rum for a few weeks, preferably a couple of months ahead of baking the cake. Note that you can make an alcohol-free version of this cake as well
  • This cake keeps for very long but take care to store it properly so that it doesn't dry out. For the cake to remain moist, wrap it as described above, pop it in a air-tight container and store it in the fridge until required

Cheers,
Megha

4 comments:

  1. Cake looks really yum Megha :-) Merry Christmas and happy new year to you too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. your fruitcake looks amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do we have to pour alcohol on cake for 2-12 weeks after baking before we can eat? Or is that part (step 7) only for storing?

    ReplyDelete
  4. No you can eat it after baking but a lot of people like their X'mas cakes to be extra boozy and so they repeatedly "feed" the cake with alcohol before serving it. The taste does get better with time. If you bake your cake ahead of time i.e. before X'mas you can still feed it a couple of time before the grand unveiling :)

    ReplyDelete

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