Fruit Cake Help

Fruit Cake Help

I must say I never thought I would answer questions on fruit cakes, especially now with Christmas over but I have received several emails on fruit cake problems, so I hope that this helps.

Fruit Cake may rise 2 or more inches during baking; remember this when pouring batter into a pan. To prevent a fruit cake from burning before the baking is completed, place a pan of hot water on the floor of the oven, replenishing it as necessary during the baking.

Here are 2 general rules for a successful fruit cake:
1. the uncooked dough must be very stiff
2. the cake must be baked in a very slow oven.

From: The Cook\’s Companion by Frieda Arkin, 1968

Traditional British Christmas Cake Recipe
(unkown author, but a very good recipe)

10 oz currants
6 oz sultanas
3 oz raisins
3 oz dark natural glace cherries
3oz mixed chopped peel – Cut your own or use ready cut
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of whiskey, brandy, rum or sherry
4 eggs – room temperature
6 oz butter – room temperature
6 oz soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if you have none)
3 ½ oz of self raising flour (use all plain if you have no SR flour, this cake is not intended to rise, but be level.)
3 ½ oz of plain flour
2 oz ground almonds
1½ teaspoons of mixed spice (this should contain cloves, cinnamon etc)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
Optional 2oz walnuts or blanched almonds chopped.
Optional 2 oz chopped dried apricots

The quantities in this fruit cake recipe must be baked in a deep Round 8 inch tin or Square 7 inch tin.

Prepare these things first.

1. Before you mix up the cake, soak the dried fruit and the halved cherries in the alcohol for about 4-8 hours before using it and also remove your 6oz butter and 4 eggs from the fridge to bring them to room temperature about 2 hours before cake making begins. Sometimes I just put all the fruit in a screw top jar and shake it every day for about a week or two. The soaking helps plump and hydrate the fruit.

2. Heat oven to 140 degrees Celsius or Gas mark 1 or 275 degrees Fahrenheit

3. Butter your tin type and double line it and butter it again with 2 circles of greaseproof paper and an inner band of paper.

4. Outside the tin add a double band of brown paper that rises 2 inches or so above the tin. Tie with string.

5. Place the tin ready on a flat pizza or other baking sheet – this helps in removing it from the oven.

Christmas Recipe: Basic Method

Next – Chop ready the nuts you decide to use or omit if preferred.

Sort out 4 eggs which you can lightly whisk in a jug in preparation.

In a large bowl sift the flour with the mixed spice. Add the ground almonds and the chopped nuts to that bowl.

Mixing the Cake

In another very large mixing bowl cream the room temperature butter with the sugar – I use an electric whisk. Next start to use the 4 mixed eggs and add them teaspoon by teaspoon to the sugar and butter, beating well to mix them in between additions. If you add too much egg too soon and it curdles, then shows separation if that happens just add a tablespoon of flour and mix in.

Now add the golden syrup. Dip a tablespoon into piping hot boiling water and remove the spoon of syrup from the tin and drop it onto the cake mix and stir it in.

Next fold in the spiced flour and ground almonds and nuts.
Now add all the soaked dried fruit.
Stir it all together until mixed well

Spoon the Christmas cake mixture into the tin and smooth the top absolutely flat with a spatula or even your clean dampened hand. This cake should not rise in the middle, but be flat.

Then drop the tin from about 10inches in the air onto the floor to make sure it has no air bubbles. Replace it onto the pizza support tray.

Baking the cake

I bake this rich fruit cake for 3 hours in my oven using the ordinary section, not the fan section of my electric cooker oven. Fan ovens can over dry cakes of this type which require long slow cooking to help the flavour and colour develop.

This same recipe is baked for 4 hours in my mother’s oven which is gas fired. So oven timings will vary. But don’t look at this cake before 3 hours has passed. I have no idea how long it would take in an Aga so if someone tries it in one please let me know.

Test with a skewer and bake the Christmas cake another 10 minutes before testing again. A cooked cake is evenly raised and should be moving slightly from the tin sides. The singing hum stops.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. The next day remove the paper wrap and make some skewer holes on the underside. Pour over 2 tablespoons of alcohol. I use sherry or any good spirit available. Do this about every 5 days for several weeks. Each time wrap the cake in double greaseproof paper and then tinfoil and store in a tin or plastic container.

You can either eat the fruit cake immediately as it is or keep feeding the cake for a month once or twice a week until you are ready to decorate. You can add almond paste and finally icing or fondant. Or instead use a simple glazed topping of crystallized fruits or nuts and encase in large ribbon band. Warn drivers of the alcohol content of the Christmas cake, but otherwise enjoy it.

Alternatively, decorate the cake exceptionally quickly with glace fruits and an apricot jam glaze made from heating 3 tablespoons of apricot jam with 2 tablespoons of brandy or sherry, as shown in this example. You could also use a quality selection of various nuts such as brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in rows or circles.

Fruit Cake (An Old German Recipe)

2 cup of sugar
1 cup butter or shortening*
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened and unseasoned)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cup flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb fairly coarse nut meats
1 lb raisins **
2 lb gumdrops ***

* Reserve 1 Tbsp butter for frying nut meats
** Bleached small white raisins are better than puffed, seeded.
*** Gum drops cut more evenly if scissors are first dipped into hot water. Use only a few green as their flavor is so strong, and No Black gum drops.

Cream sugar and butter. Add slightly beaten eggs. Add applesauce and vanilla. Sift next 6 dry ingredients and reserve 1 cup. Add dry ingredients (except for the 1 cup) and mix well. Fry nut meats, heat well but do not brown, stir constantly.

Flour nut meats, chopped gum drops and raisins in the reserved flour mixture. This is best done by placing all ingredients into a strong paper bag and shaking vigorously. Mix with batter.

Line cake pans* with waxed paper. Do not fill pans more than 2/3 full.

Bake in slow oven (275 degress) until done. Baking time depends upon size of cake. 8 1/2 X 4 inch load requires about 2 hrs. Do not over bake. Cake should be farely moist when done.

Remove waxed paper immediately after removing cake from oven after baking.

Immediately rewrap completely in fresh waxed paper or cellophane. This will seal in moisture. (Paper in which cake is baked will become set on cake and difficult to remove later when cold.)

*This recipe makes approximately one 8 1/2 X 4 inch loaf cake and one 8 inch square cake. Cake should keep an indefinite length of time.

A Modern Fruit Cake Recipe
(unkown author)

1 cup (210 grams) light brown sugar
1 cup (240 ml) hot water
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (125 grams) seedless raisins
1/2 cup (65 grams) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (75 grams) dried cherries
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (175 grams) candied and chopped mixed peel

Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). (Note: if you are using a dark colored pan reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C).)

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil the sugar, water, butter, spices, raisins, cranberries, and cherries. Boil for five minutes, remove from heat, and let cool till lukewarm. Stir into this mixture the flour, baking soda, vanilla extract and candied fruit. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cover and store, if possible, for a few days before serving.

Makes one – 9×5 inch loaf

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