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Christmas Cakes

This year (2006) a tried out approach

 

 

The Recipe:

Soak, overnight, 1500 g (YES 1 1/2kg) of mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel), in at least 1 glass of brandy/whisky - Irish Whisky is the best. The next day mix this fruit mixture with:

  • 100 g chopped red glacÚ cherries

  • 1 rind of orange

  • 1 rind of lemon

  •  chopped nuts (almond, hazelnut or whatever you prefer)

To decorate:   

  • 100 g red glacÚ cherries to decorate the cake

  •  almonds

Other ingredients:

500 g flour, 500 g butter, 500 g treacle sugar, 500 g beaten egg, optional 100 g ground almonds, 2 teaspoons of mixed spices, some people prefer to add a little more nutmeg and cinnamon, 1 packet (8 g) vanilla sugar or couple of drops of vanilla essence.

 

 

The secret of this recipe is equal quantity of the basic elements:

500g beaten eggs, 500g brown treacle sugar, 500g butter and 500 g plain flour. The right weight (quantity) of these 4 elements is most crucial, so don't try to cut corners by saying an egg is about 50 g. Use 10 beaten eggs and weigh these, if not enough add more egg, if too much reduce, but make sure that the final quantity is 500g.

 it.

Make sure butter and eggs are the same temperature, preferably cold (straight from the fridge).  Beat butter and sugar until the mixtures looks cream oak, then start adding a trickle of beaten egg.  Set your mixer at a relatively high speed and continue to add the beaten egg slowly. Add a table spoon of flour (this is an additional quantity, the total amount of flour might turn out to be  600 if not 700)  if there are any signs of the mixture curdling.

This is how the mixture  of butter and sugar should looks like, although I used brown treacle sugar the mixture looks nice and creamy:

 

This is how the mixture looks like after adding the beaten eggs:

 

 

Mix the remaining flour, spices, ground almonds and baking powder and add to the butter, sugar and egg mixture, spoon it into the mixture or use the K hook on your mixer and and turn the mixture as slowly as possible, don't go too fast otherwise you will beat the air out of it.

Add the fruit mixture as soon as all dry ingredients have disappeared. Again slowly turn this fruit mixture into the mixture.

Line the cake tins with grease proof paper. this is necessary otherwise the cake will get too dark, or might even burn.

 

Fold the grease proof paper over the cake and if necessary cut a separate piece of paper to cover the top and use some copper coins to weigh the paper down (no not a plate or metal dish).

 

Preheat the oven to 160  C, place the cake tin on the middle shelf and after 1 hour turn the oven down to 150 C. (These are temperature settings for fan-assisted ovens).  Increase these setting with about 5 - 10 degree when using a standard, conventional convection oven.

In my case it took 3 1/2 hours to bake this quantity (a square cake and a round cake). You can test the cake after at least 3 hours by sticking a skewer or long needle into it.  The skewer should come out dry, nothing should stick to it, at least no dough, you might pierce a piece of fruit and pull that out. Leave the cake a little longer, at least 1/2 hour, if the skewer (needle) is not dry.

 

 

Below: The square cake quartered and you can see the fruit evenly spread (not sunk to the bottom).  The reason don't wash the fruit or soak it in water, just a couple of tumbles (1 glass) of whisky and make sure that the butter/sugar/egg/flour mixture is not too wet. It should fall in lumps of a spoon.