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Friday, 30 November 2012

Moist Christmas Cake

I will be honest I have been marinading the fruit in lashings of Cointreau for 2 weeks now, just waiting for the time to make my cake. My girlfriend Jacquie and I have been making this cake forever, its our little Xmas ritual and hopefully we will continue to do it for a long time.
It always surprises me how many of my girlfriends have never made a Xmas cake, mostly because they have a Mum around who does it for them. Well, Jacquie and I both moved to Sydney a very long time ago, away from our Mums, so we decided that we had better get busy with the cake otherwise it was never to be. I love fruit cake probably more than any other cake, and the ceremony of the preparation which we have. When the children were much younger they would all have a stir and the adults would have a few glasses of bubbles as we worked. The tradition has changed a little as the children are all adults now except for one, and are too busy, for something seemingly so unimportant ! The workers still enjoy a glass or two of bubbles and everyone would be devastated if we didn't make the cake.
I have made many different recipes for fruit cake, but this one is our adaption of an old Women's Weekly one and I think we have perfected it.
The amount of fruit will make two cakes, so invite a girlfriend or a sister to join you, or halve the ingredients. You can marinade the fruit for three weeks. You can also make it three months ahead. I have never been that organised and it's very hard to get the glace fruit that far ahead. A couple of days is fine a week would be great. Glace fruit is available at any good health food shop. I will post a photo of the cake when I have made it !

6 cups sultanas or 1 kilo
2  1/2 cups currants
2 cups raisins
1  1/2 cups  seeded dates
1 cup seeded prunes
4  1/2 cups glace fruit this can consist of glace pineapple, pears, apricots, peaches but must contain some cherries and ginger.... about 1/2 cup of each or a little more of your favourite
3 medium apples grated
grated rind of 3 oranges
2/3 cup fig jam
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups of brown sugar
2 tablespoons mixed spice
1  3/4 cups Cointreau

Chop all of the glace and dried fruit into chunks, not too small and all similar size, cherries in half. Leave raisins, sultanas and currants whole. Put them all into a large tupperware or similar plastic lidded container, mix in the jam, rind of orange, grated apple, lemon juice, sugar spice and Cointreau. Stir well to combine, cover and set aside in the pantry and stir every second day.

1/2 Quantity of fruit mixture .. for one cake
250 grams melted cooled butter
5 eggs beaten slightly
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2-3 tablespoons Cointreau

Preheat the oven to slow 160C. I don't use fan forced for a fruit cake.
Line a square or round tin with paper, internally on the bottom and sides. Cut the bottom to fit. I use 2-3 layers of paper. Either use Glad Bake or brown paper which you will have to grease. Extend the paper to come up the sides of the tin about 5 cms.

Place the basic fruit mixture in a large bowl and mix in the butter and eggs, then the sifted flour in two batches. Spread the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake uncovered for about 3 hours. Brush with the Cointreau and cover the tin in foil. Cool overnight and turn out. Every oven is different, you may need to cover the cake with foil or Glad bake in the last hour as it may be catching and burning on top. If you can smell the cake, it usually is pretty close to being cooked. If your oven is really hot, turn it down a bit and cook a little longer. You don't want it to be burnt on the outside and not cooked in the middle. I really hope this becomes a favourite !

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