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TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE

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റെസിപി ....
TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE
By : Sumod Tom

Fruit cakes , synonymously is always associated with Christmas. My initial memories of this fabulous Christmas fruit cake go back to my childhood,
My uncle and aunt had brought it when they came down for Christmas from New Zealand.
And the cake used to be tucked in grandma’s safe custody.. We kiddoes’ use to crave and queue up for a slice….
The unique rich taste, the aroma, the rich dark colour, everything was very special.
It was then that I learnt ,that the pre preparation for the cake begins months before Christmas, with the soaking of dry fruits in liquor, baking months ahead of Christmas and again drizzling/brushing liquor over the baked cake till the Christmas day…
My hunt for a perfect fruit cake started ,thus, and I got this… (adopted from britishfood..about..com..., and modified).
I always do small changes to any recipe, and the results are always amazingly good.
The whole process involved in baking this cake is just wonderful and I love each and every bit of it. Shopping for the best quality dark dried fruits, the long chopping and soaking process, then the slow baking and the aroma when you finally get to bake it is just amazing. It last for weeks. My kitchen haven smell so wonderfully good. And the weekly drizzling of liquor over the baked cake, and finally slicing it on the Christmas day….every small procedure done for this bake is precious for me.
The best of carols being played in the background throughout the whole process just completes the feeling of the Season.
I don’t deny the fact that the whole process is laborious…but the fruit of your labour is definitely sweet here…
Ingredients:
525g currants
450g mix of raisins/sultanas/prunes/cranberries
110g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
165 glace cherries, halved
300g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 level tsp mixed spice (I used Cinnamon, Cloves, Caraway Seeds and Nutmeg)
300g butter, slightly softened
200g soft brown sugar
Caramel Syrup made from 100 gms granulated Sugar
Zest of ½ lemon and 1 Orange
Juice of 1 Orange and 1 lemon
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp brandy, or Rum or Red Wine, plus extra for feeding (you can use more)
2 Tbs each of Orange marmalade and Black currants Jam
2 tbs Black treacle Syrup
Method:
2 months before Christmas, in a large mixing bowl, add the liquor, jam, black treacle, spice powder and mix well. To this add all the finely chopped dried fruits and peels and give a good mix with a wooden. Store it in an air tight glass jar in a dark, cool cabinet. Give in a thorough mix every alternate day, till the day of baking. (I use to feed more liquor, if the mix was found dry.)
The day of baking
All the ingredients have to be at room temperature.
Pre heat the Oven at 150 C.
The temperature is low as the cake needs a long slow bake. It is packed with sugars, fruits and brandy and if the temperature is any higher the outside of the cake will burn and the inside will be undercooked.
Line a 9 inch cake tin with 2 thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of newspaper around the outside; ensure the outer paper lining stands few inches above the baking tin, to accommodate the top paper cover. This acts as an insulator and to prevent the cake from burning on the outside.
Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt together and keep aside. In a large mixing bowl, add butter and powdered brown sugar. Cream together till it is fluffy.
Add in eggs, little at a time; continue whipping on high speed till it is well combined. Scrape down the sides and repeat till all the eggs are added and well combined.
Add the caramel syrup and orange and lime juice and give a mix. Remove the beater and start folding the flour, say in 3 turns. Fold in gently till it is well combined. Now add in the soaked fruits mix slowly in three turns.
Fold till in the mix is well combined.
Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin making sure there are no air pockets.
Once filled smooth the surface with the back of s spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).
Finally, using a piece of paper towel clean up any smears of cake batter on the greaseproof wrapping, if left on they will burn, and though it won't affect the cake, it doesn't smell too good.
Cover the top of the cake (the outer newspaper) with parchment paper.
Bake in pre heated oven for 2 to 2 ½ Hours. (Baking time may very form oven to oven). Keep checking after 2 hours with a tooth pick, till it comes out clean.
The cake should be nicely risen and a deep brown all over. If there is sticky dough on the skewer when you pull it out it needs cooking longer, if it is clean, the cakes is done and remove from the oven.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.
Once cooled prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 - 3 tbsp brandy. This is called feeding and should be repeated every week up until Christmas.
The cake should be stored wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper in an airtight tin, in a dark and cool cabinet.
The cake is rich in dry fruits, has a great aroma, very moist and tastes fabulous. Do give a try. Promising that it will be worth it..
Note 1: You can vary the liquor proportion, a mix of brandy and rum works best for me.
Note 2: Do not skip the double lining (inside and outside) and the covering of the baking tray.
Note 3: If you do not want to use rum or brandy, replace with fruit jams and red wine.
Note 4: Try using dark dry fruits for a rich dark colour, preferably dark raisins, black currant, prunes, cranberries etc:-
Note 5: If sealed and stored properly in a cool cabinet (no need to refrigerate), the cake stays fine for months.
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