Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas Fruit Cake

Nomsies Kitchen Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Fruit Cake with Walnuts
Hello everyone! With the festive season upon us, I know I have been sharing a lot of sweet recipes due to all the holiday baking I have been doing. I will try to post more savouries soon, meanwhile I hope you are embracing the festivities and enjoying your holiday baking.

Today, I want to share this very dear and special recipe for Christmas Fruit Cake with you. This is going to be a somewhat lengthy post, but I hope you bear with me as I wish to set out as many tips and tricks that I have learnt from my own hard and sometimes tearful experience with you so that you will be able to achieve the perfect bake.


Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake

Now, I read somewhere that some people regard Christmas Fruit Cakes as being only good to be used as door stops, once upon a time I would have agreed that that statement is not far from the truth. However, my opinion on that changed with this recipe. Since then, there has been no looking back – as far as Christmas Fruit Cakes are concerned. Over the past decade or so, I have been baking this cake with my family every Christmas (and sometimes during the year!) and I would like to think that we have managed to refined the recipe over the years to achieve the perfect bake. This is certainly not one Christmas Fruit Cake that is going to be used as a door-stop!

At a glance, this cake may seem complicated with a lengthy list of ingredients but please do not be daunted. I must emphasise that to keep you on track and from feeling frazzled, you do have to do some planning and preparatory work beforehand. I know my blog is all about making easy everyday food, but there are times when I do make exceptions. I will try to set out the tips in a systematic manner and hope that you can use it as a sort of reminder or checklist.


Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake

Time
First, as a general guideline, do set aside at least 3 hours for this cake. That is, for the prep work, baking time and also cooling time.

Luxury Dried Mixed Fruits
Ideally, you need to begin prep work the day before you intend to bake this cake. Begin by macerating the dried fruits with the brandy and juice mixture for at least 8 hours or overnight. Do not try to take a short cut and macerate it for a shorter duration. I have done this before and there is a significant effect on the flavor as the dried fruits really need time to absorb all the liquid. Visually, you can observe that the dried fruits will really plump up overnight after having absorbed all the liquid. You will also note that in the recipe, I have set out that you should get “Luxury Dried Mixed Fruits”, you can purchase this from the baking section, the difference is that the Luxury Dried Mixed Fruits contain glaced cherries, and chopped pineapple – an important component of this cake.


Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake

Lining the Cake Tins
If you like, you can also get organised and prepare and cut all your parchment paper the day before. Due to the long baking time, I would advise using a double layer of parchment to line the baking tin.

Butter and Brandy
As these two ingredients are central to the taste of the cake, do try to buy the best that you can afford. You don’t have to splurge but do spend a bit more if possible as it does affect the overall taste and quality of the cake.

A further reminder is to remember to take your butter out of the refrigerator and allocate time for it to soften before baking. How much time it will take your butter to soften will really depend on how cold or warm your house is. For me, I need to take it out at least 2 hours before I want to bake my cake. I know things like that may sound obvious, but sometimes I myself still forget.

Ground Almonds and Self-Raising Flour Ratio
This cake requires both ground almonds and self-raising flour. I have been experimenting with different ratios of ground almonds to self-raising flour and now I have set it as 90gm ground almonds to 135gm self-raising flour.

I have found that this ratio of ground almonds to self-raising flour seems to work best. If there is a higher ratio of ground almonds, the cake is moister but it can be too heavy and oily. Conversely, if the ratio of self-raising flour is too high, the cake’s texture will be drier.


Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake


Oven Heat and Placement
I usually bake two 6” cakes at once in my oven. I have found that baking them at 150°C is ideal to produce a very even cake, both in colour and texture. I also tend to bake my cakes one rung below the middle rung of my oven. My oven is rather hot so I found that baking on this rung yields the best result. The key here is knowing your own oven. The feedback I have received from different friends and family is that each person’s oven differs, so you must monitor the cake when it is baking and adjust the heat accordingly. If you are baking one 9” cake, do increase the baking time by 20%.

Storage
Once baked, this cake can be easily kept in your refrigerator for up to 3 months. Wrap the completely cooled cake tightly in a double layer of parchment followed by a layer of foil. You can brush a few drops of brandy over the surface in weekly intervals to keep it moist and rich.

Optional Items
This cake contains walnuts, however, you may want to try using a mix of hazelnuts and walnuts. I find this is a good combination but it can add to your cost and work. As for decorating the cake, you can go ahead and arrange some glaced cherries, almond flakes or whole almonds in a circular pattern on the top of the cake. In the same vein, the same applies for marzipan and icing the cake. I don’t usually do this as I like an unadorned cake and more importantly since the amount of Christmas Fruit Cakes I usually bake are in the double digits, I just do not have the time.


Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake

To wrap up, I hope the tips I have shared will help you. Thank you for bearing with me.

Although I may be thousands of miles away from my mother and sister this year, we are baking this same cake for our respective friends and family. We have even been having a bit of a friendly family competition in terms of judging the bake of the cake to the wrapping and packaging. It is quite fun to have a group chat where we send photos of our bakes and packaging ideas to each other, each trying to outdo the other. I didn’t win the informal competition but I do believe I will be back next year with better ideas.

As for you, I hope you get cracking and start baking this cake!

Nomsies Kitchen | Christmas Fruit Cake
Where is the missing slice?
Recipe for Christmas Fruit Cake
Prep Time: 1 hour / Baking Time 65-70 minutes / Yields: Two 650gm cakes
You will need two 6” cake tins

Ingredients

225gm Butter (softened)
125gm Dark Brown Soft Sugar
30ml Brandy
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
5 Egg Yolks
3 Egg Whites
45gm Castor Sugar
Pinch of Salt
135gm Self Raising Flour
90gm Ground Almonds
1 tsp Baking Powder
400gm Dried Luxury Mixed Fruits
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 tsp Cinnamon powder
80gm Walnuts (roughly chopped)

Method
1.  Macerate dried fruits with brandy and juice and leave overnight.
2. Before Baking, pre-heat oven to 150°C and line cake tins with a double layer of parchment paper.
3. Sift the ground almonds, self-raising flour and baking powder together, set aside. Next, separate the egg yolks and egg whites, set aside.
4. Cream butter with dark brown soft sugar until fluffy, then add in egg yolks one at a time. Mix evenly after each addition. Then, add in the brandy and vanilla essence and mix until even. Set aside.
5. Now, in another bowl, quickly whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in the castor sugar and salt mixture and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
6. Mix 2 ½ Tbsp of flour into the mix fruits mixture – this will help to prevent the fruits from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Now, start folding in the ground almonds and self-raising flour mixture, egg whites mixture, fruits and nuts alternately into the butter and sugar mixture.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared double lined 6” cake tins, do weigh each tin to ensure that both cakes are the same weight. Knock each cake tin gently to ensure the batter is even, then use a spoon to smooth out the tops of the batter.
8. Bake for 65-70 minutes. Use a skewer to test the cake and if it comes out clean, remove from oven and leave to cool in the cake tin for 10-15 minutes. Brush some brandy over the tops of the cakes. After 10-15 minutes remove the cakes from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Only wrap and store the cakes in the refrigerator once it is completely cool.

4 comments:

  1. Your Christmas Fruit Cake sounds fantastic. I have had pretty good Christmas cakes at my aunts place but never tried baking them. May some day when I have enough time in had and am feeling brave enough I'll give this recipe a try ;) Thank you so much for sharing the recipe at Tasty Tuesday. I am featuring it this week. Hope you'll drop by to grab the featured button and share some more recipes with us.

    Wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tanusree, thank you for featuring my recipe. I hope you will be brave enough to attempt this recipe, give me a shout if you need any more tips! Wishing you and your family all the best in 2014! :)

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  2. It looks like a fabulous cake!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Winnie, if I may say so - it really is :) I get a lot of good feedback for this Christmas Fruit Cake, I hope you will bake it.

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