A Traditional Christmas Fruitcake, Part One: Baking the cake

As little kids, we are always adorned with fruitcakes for Christmas either bought by mom or baked by our grand auntie. I can't remember when we had stop having fruitcake for Christmas, that's perhaps the last time I tasted fruitcake. With age, my grand auntie had retired from the kitchen and handed me her stack of recipes. Through the stacks for hand written recipes. I've found the fruitcake from before. I've tried the all time fravorite recipe from Delia smith. And this pass on recipe definitely superceds. 

Fruitcakes are super dense and heavy with moist plumped fruits of Christmas colors, aromatic orange peels, spices, molasses and generous feedings of brandy. Like a good wine, fruitcakes are meant to be aged and ripen in the refrigerator until Christmas. When you have kept it in the refrigerator for a week or two, it becomes dense and less cake-like. 

Typing this now, I am savoring a 7 day old slice that I had been feeding daily with brandy. cake and it taste everything of Christmas. Fairly young now, I can still feed it with more brandy, It shall be left at the back of the refrigerator for a graceful age till Christmas and top with an astonish sauce of butter, cream, sugar, more brandy and nutmeg. I know it's a stunner. 

I've baked three 8 inch cake with the batter to be decorated with marzipan and icing which shall be posted next.

400g raisins
400g currants
400g sultana
250g mixed peel (dried orange peel)
200g green glacé cherries
200g red glacé cherries
150g chopped almonds (the skins can be left on)
1 cup brandy
½ cup molasses 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
-Soak the above-

570g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
-Sieve the above-

500g butter 
300g caster sugar
8 large eggs, 2cups
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Juice of half orange 
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange zest

You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 24 hours.

Next day pre-heat the oven to (140°C). Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they're all there. Begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl. Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale and fluffy about 10 mins on med-high speed with mixer. Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won't curdle. If it does, don't worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can't fail to taste good!

When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and molasses and finally the grated lemon and orange zests. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don't intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface. Finally cover the top of the cake and sides with a double square of silicone paper or foil (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking).
Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 3hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½vhour longer than this. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's cold 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.

On how to decorate the fruitcake, click here.
-till next post, ss.

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