Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Festive Cake

Glazed Fruit Festive Cake
A latecomer, so not exactly a fully fledged Christmas cake but an equally full gorgeous flavoured delicacy to share with friends, family & especially a taste of welcoming heaven for those unexpected drop'ins who were just passing!!! Don't underestimate this tasty cakes seductive prowess, just because its a late starter & doesn't include all traditional ingredients doesn't mean we lose any of the moist rich deliciousness. I'm all for the entwining mature flavours, flowing amongst a delicate warmth all merging to become a light fruity texture with a scrumptious rich texture finished with a fruity (or if you like nuts) a nutty, sweet sticky glaze.
As you can probably tell - in other words I don't get along too well with the traditional heavy fruit cakes, especially Christmas ones with the marzipan & icing. There's just something about icing that provokes my throat into a barf state of peristalsis!!
Sooooo this recipe is especially for any of you other Christmas cake declinees - who still want the pleasures of having a nice cake but without all the traditional stifled stiffness - this is the cake for you!!! :) Try it & see, use your own ideas if you don't like mine. . its a beautiful alternative yet it can still strut its stuff as a traditional cake , still hold its nuts high amongst the best of the cakes :)
Last year I drizzled my mixture with Jack Daniels - no reason behind this other than it was all I had in the cupboard (except vodka & sloe gin maturing). It turned out beautifully & the flavours awesome. However please drizzle your mixture with your favourite tipple. This year I'm daring to make a batch of them for the family . . . so there's minature Brandy, Whiskey, Rum & Vodka bottles in my cupboard of their favourite tipples :) A couple of them like nuts - the others don't .. so decide if you like the nut finishing then glazed with melted apricot jam or simply glazed plain or even served naked without the glaze :)

8oz Sultanas
6oz Full Juicy Raisins
2oz Currants
6oz Apricots
6oz Dates
6oz Figs
4oz Prunes
* this is where - if you like these specific flavours - you would add
2oz glade cherries, 20z almonds, 2oz pecans, 20z candied peel etc adjusting the amounts to suit taste.
Grated zest of an orange & lemon
1 teaspoon Black Treacle
1 & 1/2 Teaspoons Mixed Spice
Teaspoon Ginger
Teaspoon Cinnamon
Teaspoon Nutmeg
Teaspoon Ginger
3 tablespoons of Brandy or Sherry or Whiskey etc)
Large cup full of water
  • First of all we prepare the dried fruits. Measure them all out individually then with a pair of scissors cut some of the fruits into long thin pieces then into smaller cubes (painstakingly boring I know but well worth the effort) then place into a large saucepan. Once all fruits are cut, add the spices & stir. Add the liquids & bring the mixture to the boil, reduce & simmer for about an 15 mins. Allow to cool, cover then leave to rest into a refrigerator overnight. *Sorry but as its evening, working only with the kitchen light -the photographs of the dried fruit, saucepan & mixture look naff so unfortunately I'll have to take some more tomorrow but it will all be already mixed! However I'm sure you can imagine what weighing our dried fruit looks like & mixing in saucepan :D I'll continue writing the recipe & method just incase there are any more late comers ..

6oz Plain Flour
2oz SR Flour
Teaspoon Mixed Spice
40z Soft Brown Sugar
40z Dark Brown Sugar
8oz Butter (room temperature)
4 Eggs

Apricot Jam

8" round tin, 7" square
Greaseproof paper .

  • Remove fruit mixture from fridge, give a good stir. Remove cover to allow mixture to reach room temperature
  • Pre heat oven
  • Measure out cake ingredients
  • Sift the four well & the spices into a large separate mixing bowl (not the one used to mix the butter & sugar) put to one side until needed
  • Whisk the butter & sugar together to make lovely light creamy fluffy consistency
  • Beat the eggs in a small dish & add them little by little to the creamed mixture, keep gently mixing all ingredients continuously. Once all the eggs have been used into the mixture stop whisking
  • Using a large wooden spoon gently fold into the mixture the sieved flour - do not beat as the air is nicely trapped between each fold which adds to the texture
  • Next fold in the fruit mixture & other ingredients chosen by you i.e. chopped nuts, glace cherries etc
  • Transfer the cake mixture into a lined cake tin . I line mine with greaseproof paper in a cross shape so I have the balance of the cake weight to lift evenly
  • Cover the top of the cake with a double piece of greaseproof paper
  • Cook for 1 hour on 200oC then after an hour reduce heat & continue to cook for a further 2 hours
  • Leave the cake in its tin to cool then once cold remove the greaseproof paper
  • Wrap in double greaseproof paper, add into a large air tight cake tin. Pop some halved apples into the tin (skin side against the greaseproof paper)
  • Before giving the cake as a gift - its a lovely way to finish & to present the cake by adding the glazed fruit/nut topping. Choose which ingredients you prefer to use if its nut slightly - lightly- toast them beneath a grill. If its fruits half them so you still have the whole shape of the fruit.
  • Melt the apricot jam into a small saucepan (you can add a teaspoon of Brandy or whatever alcohol you chose to use) Gently heat & stir until blended & melted. Using a pastry brush paint some of the glaze over the cake as if it were a glue. arrange the fruit/nuts in any pattern you like.
  • Finally brush all of the artistically arranged fruit/nuts with the remaining warm glaze.
  • Wrap a ribbon around the cake & store in a cake tin until needed.
  • I use apricots, figs, prunes & cherries mainly for the colouring & the exquisite aesthetic result achieved by the contrasting colours & the lovely unusual instinctive appearance of the fig against the soft fleshy apricot.
  • I'm sure the same aesthetically pleasing masterpiece can be achieved using walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts & pecans :)