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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Baking a Christmas Cake/Boiled Fruit Cake

We are approaching Christmas and it is time to bake your Christmas Cakes if you want to have them ready for the upcoming feast. I have left it a little late this year, but I still have time left. Ideally, you want to bake a fruit cake 3 months before the date on which you intend to serve it. You then keep it in a sealed container and sprinkle it with brandy once or twice a week to 'mature' it. The flavors will develop fully and the brandy treatments will keep the cake moist. After maturing the cake, you can decorate it (or not) and serve it. There is a distinct difference between a fresh and a matured fruit cake and the latter is certainly better. Let me walk you through the steps of baking a very easy fruit cake.

There are a great many recipes for fruit cakes available, but my favorite remains one that Stork published a couple of years ago in this recipe book of theirs; the Boiled Fruit Cake.

Start by measuring 375 g (550 ml) fruit cake mix in a pot with a heavy bottom. Alternatively, measure 125 g (175 ml) raisins, 125 g (175 ml) sultanas and 125 g (200 ml) currants.

Add 120 g (120 ml) margarine or butter.

Add 2 ml salt.

Add 200 g (250 ml) sugar. (The darker the sugar you use, the darker the cake will be).

Lastly, add 250 ml water to the pot.

The recipe calls for adding the dates to the mix at a later stage, but I prefer to add it to the fruit that will be boiled and I therefore add 60 g (75 ml) chopped dates to the pot.

Put the pot on the stove top and bring to the boil. Boil for about 15 min on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool down. Once it is cool, add 5 ml bicarbonate of soda.

The bicarbonate of soda will react to the fruit and boil up. Stir continuously to force it down.

In the fifteen minutes while the fruit is boiling on the stove, you can mix together the rest of the ingredients. Start by adding 60 g (100 ml) candied peel to a mixing bowl.

Add 60 g (125 ml) chopped mixed nuts to the mixing bowl. I did not have mixed nuts in the house and mixed my own. I chopped and added some Macadamia nuts.

I then chopped and added some almonds.

This was followed by a few chopped Cashew nuts.

Lastly I chopped some Brazil nuts to add to the mix.

Chop and add 60 g (75 ml) cherries to the mixing bowl.

The recipe instructs that we should add ground ginger to the dry ingredients. I prefer to add crushed ginger to the fruit and nut mix. I therefore add about a teaspoonful (5 ml) of the fresh ground ginger to this mix.

Beat 3 eggs and add this to the mixing bowl. Now mix everything together and put it aside.

It is time to start mixing the dry ingredients. I always prefer to put these through a sieve. First to go into the sieve is 250 g (500 ml) flour.

This is followed by 5 ml baking powder.

The recipe now asks for 2 ml ground cinnamon. I prefer to increase this amount to 5 ml.

If you did not use fresh ground ginger, you can add 2 ml to the dry ingredients. Also add 2 ml ground cloves ...

... and 2 ml ground nutmeg.

Add the fruit, nut and egg mix to the boiled mix and fold it in, mixing it well.

Add 20 ml brandy to the mix and stir it through. The better the quality of brandy that you use, the better the fruit cake will taste.

Now add the dry ingredients and fold this in as well.

Spray your cake tin with a non-stick coating. Then measure and cut wax paper to line the bottom with.

Line the bottom of the pan.

Pour the mixture into the pan. Put the pan in a preheated oven at 160 °C. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Stick a test pin into the cake to test if it is ready.

When the pin comes out clean, like this one, the cake is ready. If there is still dough clinging to the pin, put the cake back in the oven and bake for a few minutes until it is ready and the pin comes out clean.

Wait a few minutes before turning the cake out on a cooling rack. Remove the wax paper from the bottom.

Let the cake cool completely, before putting it in a sealed container. Treat it with brandy once or twice a week for three months.

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