Cider Fruit Cake

This is a quick sort of fruit cake, so if you haven’t made your Christmas cake yet, this one might just do for you. It’s a melt-it-all-in-a-pan sort of a cake.

DSCN0240

Ingredients:

50g unsalted butter

200g muscovado sugar

approx. 250g assorted dried fruit of your choice

175ml cider

175ml water

1tsp mixed spice

1tsp ground ginger

225g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

Icing sugar to decorate.

To make:

Preheat an oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.

Put everything up to the flour in a big pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for two minutes, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.

Into a baking tin and bake for 25ish minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch.

Christmas Cake

DSCN0221

Because now’s the time to bake a Christmas cake. That’s one job done!

You will need:-

7oz dark brown sugar

7oz butter

2tbsp treacle

Marmalade

Tsp vanilla essence

4 eggs, lightly beaten

8oz plain flour

Mixed spice

Ground cinnamon

Ground ginger

2-3ibs dried fruit, candied peel and/or nuts of your choice, preferably soaked in alcohol of your choice (I used whisky with blackbeer and raisin wine)

Preheat an oven to 150C/300F/GasMark 2 and prepare an 8ā€ round/7ā€ square cake tin. You may have enough left over for some muffins. I got a dozen testers. Just in case of poison, you understand.

  • Cream sugar and butter, then mix in treacle, marmalade and vanilla. Iā€™d say until light and fluffy, but this is going to be heavy and sticky, so good luck with the light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the eggs bit by bit, adding a spoon of flour-and-mixed-spices with the last bit of egg
  • Fold in the rest of the flour-and-mixed-spices
  • Stir in fruit-and-nuts
  • Bake for about 3 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool and then wrap up in foil and store in an airtight container.

Optional: every week pour a spoon or two of preferred alcohol (I’m using mead) over the top and allow to soak in until ready for icing.

Christmas Cake for the Disorganised

I think I promised this recipe for a simple Christmas cake, which doesn’t really need months of maturing and weekly brandy feeds, way back on Stir-Up Sunday, when you’re supposed to bake cakes and puddings for Christmas.

If, like me, you hadn’t the time, inclination, or both, back then, or just thought that it was too early to think about Christmas, here’s a recipe for that cake you meant to bake. Now that we’re, you know, in the last few days before Christmas.

What you need to do is easy. Put whatever dried fruits and candied peel that you like into a bowl. I don’t mind if you don’t like vast quantities of fruit in a cake – my fiance doesn’t, either. He doesn’t like dried grapes, which is more annoying. So, yes. Choose your fruits and amounts according to taste. Pour a little (or a lot; your choice) brandy into the bowl and let the fruits soak it up greedily. Traditionally you leave them to soak overnight, but I’m presuming you’re not that organised. I know I’m not usually. Even when I plan when I’m baking my cake. Half an hour’s fine. So’s 5 minutes. It’ll all go into the cake mix anyway.

Lay your hands on a simple sponge recipe/grab a sponge mix from the supermarket. The first time I made this cake, I used a Victoria sponge recipe. Today, I used one of Sainsbury’s Hallowe’en recipes, for a chocolate orange spider-web cake. I’ve just adapted it a bit.

Image

So, I had:

125g butter (I don’t care what Sainsbury’s says, I’m not using something called “baking spread” in my cake.)

125g light brown sugar. I didn’t have caster sugar.

2 tbsps milk

2 large-ish eggs

125g plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder

40g white creme brulee chocolate powder. I’ve been saving it specially.

A bowl of dried fruits in brandy.

And the steps for making goes something like this… Mix together in order, starting by creaming together the butter and sugar, then folding in the rest.

Stick in a previously greased and lined tin and shove in the oven at 180C until it looks about ready. Half an hour or so should do it.

The trick is in using a recipe you know will give you a decent-sized cake. As you can probably see, mine’s a bit thin. Probably needed double the recipe. Never mind. Cake’s cake. I’m not fussy, I’m not proud. Or a smaller cake tin. Meh.

Stir-Up Sunday

So the countdown to Christmas begins.

Image

Traditionally, today, the last Sunday before Advent, is the day when all the Christmas baking is done. So that’s the cake, the pudding and the pies. With home-made mincemeat, of course, which you prepared back in the Autumn when the apples fell.

Image

I haven’t actually made my cake yet. I haven’t had time. I’m going to use a cheat’s recipe at some point in the next month (in my *ahem* copious free time…). I’ll share it when I make it…

Normally, I’ll have made it by now, and I’ll feed it brandy every week. Not that I make traditional Christmas cakes. Mark isn’t a fan of raisins (or any dried grapes), so I substitute them for various other fruits, like cranberries and blueberries. Makes it a slightly lighter sort of cake.

How early do you do your Christmas baking?