Courtesy: Alice James Paniculam
It might sound like blasphemy but I must admit, I never enjoyed the exalted fruit cake served during the Christmas season. I always wondered what was the hype behind this cake which was barely cake and filled with things that I didn’t enjoy.
Then I met my mother-in-law’s cake and the rest is history. Not only am I an absolute convert but I take pride in encouraging everyone to venture into this area by using her foolproof recipe!
A good Christmas cake is very moist , fruity and doesn’t crumble. So the secret to this is to slowly bake the cake at a lower temperature till taut. A larger quantity of fruits and nuts helps it to be well distributed across the cake.
P.S The choice of ingredients could be varied depending on your likes and dislikes but the crucial fresh orange peel and slow cooking temperatures mustn’t be tampered with .
- Grease and line a 10″ baking dish (or two 5″) with baking paper. Repeat baking paper lining and set aside.
- Preheat the oven at 140 deg C.
- The cake base follows the principle of a pound cake which is based on equal weight for flour, eggs and sugar.
- Chop all fruits and nuts to required size and keep it aside
- Dry grind the spice mix. The ratio of spices would be nutmeg:cinnamon:cloves = 1:4:3
- The inside of the Orange peel has to be scraped off, then chopped and sliced to the tiniest size.
- You could make your own candied orange peel. First,scrape off the inside white part with a fork. Now thinly slice the peel and stew it in sugar syrup till it’s softened. Toss it in castor sugar and refrigerate it.
- Prepare the caramel ahead and store in a jar. In a thick bottom pan layer the sugar and melt till it starts turning darker than golden brown. Add boiling hot water.
- Make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature before you start
Flour – 200gms or 1 and 1/3 cups
Baking Powder – 1.25 tsp
(Self raising flour 200gms)
Castor Sugar – 200 gms or 1cup
Egg – 200gms or 3 -4nos (Separated and at room temperature)*weigh eggs as a whole
Unsalted Butter – 200gms or 1 cup(at Room Temperature)
Dark Brown or normal sugar for the caramel sauce – 100 gms or 1/2 cup
Chopped Dates – 200 gms or 1 cup
Chopped Nuts—(cashew and walnuts) – 150 gms or 3/4 cup
Seedless Raisins (soaked in rum for at least 4-5 weeks) – 250 gms or 1 and 1/3 cup
Any other dry fruit like apricot, cherries – 150 gms or 1 cup
Fresh Orange peel -1 no (finely chopped)
Candied Orange peel- 1 tbsp (optional)Orange Light Cake
Spice powder (nutmeg,cinnamon,cloves) – 1 tsp
Marmalade-1 tbsp (optional)
Dark Rum – required for soaking raisins and painting the cake
So let the party begin,
• Sift Flour and Baking powder thrice and set aside ( if you are using self raising flour, just take same quantity and avoid the baking powder.
• Cream butter & sugar till almost white in colour.
• Separate eggs. Add in yolks one by one. Beat well .
• Add in spice powder and finely grated or chopped fresh orange peel. Beat well.
• Add in required caramel sauce till you get a deep coffee brown colour.
• Fold in flour and the fruits & nuts alternatively in three parts each. The fruits can be slightly floured so that they don’t sink. Stir in the marmalade and candied orange peel.
• Stiffly beat the egg whites and fold it into the cake
• Bake in the prepared baking dish @ 140 deg C for 3 hrs and 30 minutes or till the top is taut. If you test with a skewer, it should have some crumbs left on it. Take it out of the oven and let it cool in the tin.
• Apply rum on top of the cake once it is done. Remove only the outer baking paper. Let the other remain. Cover top with baking paper and foil wrap it again. This way the cake would stay moist.
Just another tip
• While soaking raisins, drown it in dark rum . And store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place . Make sure that the fruits are always moist. If not , add extra rum and give the container a shake
• Preferably use same rum left behind after soaking raisins for painting the cake later.
To download and print the recipe , click the following link , Christmas Fruit Cake