I am a long time fan of fruit cakes and will usually pick fruitcake over the usual varieties but what I've never done is actually make one. With Christmas approaching this seemed like a good time to have a go.
Why are you making it in October I hear you ask? well unlike its chocolate and sponge cousins, a fruit cake matures and improves over time when stored in a cool dry place and wrapped tightly up. The quality of the cake is also improved by 'feeding' the cake at regular intervals with an alcohol such as whisky, brandy etc.
So without gilding the lily and with no more ado (salute to the first person who names the source of this quote) here is the recipe I have used for my first ever Christmas cake.
2oz Glacé Cherries
2oz Cut Mixed Peel
1 1/2 oz Ground Almonds
1/4 tsp Orange Rind
1/4 tsp Lemon Rind
4 Tblsp Brandy
10 oz Self Raising Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Mixed Spice
8 oz Soft Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Black TreacleMethod
Add the first 8 ingredients to a bowl and pour over the Brandy, mix well and leave, at the very least. overnight. I left mine from Friday night to Sunday late afternoon.
Cream the butter and sugar together and rub into the flour, mixed spice and salt.
Combine this mixture with the soaked fruit.
Add the treacle and the beaten eggs and mix well.
Line your chosen tin, for this I used a 8 inch square tin but feel free to use what ever tin you like such as small round 4 inch tins or larger 6 inch tin but try and use a deep cake tin.
I think lining tins is a horrendous irritating part of baking (mainly because I cant do it properly) so here is a guide courtesy of HRH Delia Smith: how to line a baking tin.
Place it in a pre-heated oven at the appropriate temperature and time
For an 8 inch square tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour and 10 mins then 140 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes.
6 inch round tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour then 140 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.
4 inch round tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour then 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.
These times are a guide, after the time as passed, stick a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. if not stick it back in and check every 10 - 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and tin and place on a cooling rack. Pierce the cake at several points and pour a few tablespoons of brandy over the cake. This is called 'feeding' and can be done weekly or monthly up until Christmas.
Once cooled, wrap in baking paper and then again in foil and store in a cool dry place.
Sit back with a cup of tea and wait for Christmas and my icing post!
This recipe is borrowed with thanks from The Bakelady over at: http://bakelady.wordpress.com/, go check out her lovely blog and other baking recipes.