150%">Classic Christmas Fruit Cake
I tasted this cake a while back at The Miele Experience Centre in Abingdon. It left a long lasting impression on me. Up until that day, I’ve never really understood what fruitcake lovers were going on about. This cake sets the record straight and set me off on a two week quest of fruitcake madness. I’ve got several recipes to share with you, but I will start off with this one which seems to have fruitcake lovers enthralled. Like all fruitcakes, make it well in advance as the flavour and the texture of the cake improves with age. You can also feed it once or twice a week with a little extra brandy but to be honest, it doesn’t really need it. You’ll see from the picture that my cake is not iced and the reason is it never got to this stage as people from all over the village kept stopping in to have a taste. It doesn’t need the icing, but if you want the full effect, it can only enhance what is already a very spectacular cake.
If you think you might get fed up of fruitcake, then by all means half the recipe. It works well and you will have sufficient cake to get you through Christmas and possibly the New Year. For half the recipe I baked my cake for just over 2 hours. Remember that all ovens are different and what really gives this cake the wonderful moistness is a low and long baking using conventional heat, that is top and bottom heat. This stops the cake drying out.
Makes a large cake to serve about 12 – 16 people
100g glace cherries
100g dried apricots
50g mixed candied peel
8- 10 Tbs brandy (or Jack Daniels, if you want to ring the changes)
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
50g flaked almonds
1 orange, zest only
1 lemon, zest only
250g ground almonds
250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
250g dark brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tbs black treacle
Weigh all the dried fruit into a large bowl and pour the brandy over it, mixing well. Cover and leave to soak for several hours and preferably overnight.
Grease and double line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown paper on the outside of the tin.
Select a conventional function on your oven (ie, not fan) and preheat the oven to 140 C. If you have a Miele oven then use the automatic programme for rich fruit cake and follow the instructions in the oven display unit.
Combine the ground almonds and spices into a large bowl and add the flaked almonds, orange and lemon rind.
In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar until light. Beat the eggs in little by little to make an emulsified mixture the texture of mayonnaise. Add the black treacle and mix through. Gradually fold in the ground almonds and spice mixture, followed by the soaked fruit. Mix through gently to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed and pour into the prepared tin. Smooth down the mixture with the back of a spoon or spatula. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double circle of greaseproof paper.
Place in the oven on a wire rack on the middle shelf. Time the cake for 1 hour and then reduce the temperature to 120 C and continue to bake for up to 3 hours. (Check after 2 ½ hours to see if the cake is done.) To check if the cake is done, place a skewer in the middle of the cake. If it’s done it should come out clean. The cake should also be firm to the touch.
Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the tin. (This is the hardest bit as your house will smell amazing and everyone will want to dig into it straight away.) This cake can be made up to 3 months in advance. But if you are like me, you can make it a week before Christmas or even just a few days before. It definitely improves with age and you will get much neater slices if you can stop yourself cutting into it straight away.
To store the cake re-wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight tin. Keep it somewhere cool and dark and feed at intervals with brandy or sherry.