Fruit cakes are totally new to me – I have never actually made one before! Although I remember as a child when my mum would make them at Christmas time, I would sit on the work top and help her stir all the ingredients in a giant bowl. I didn’t really appreciate the time it takes to make one, let alone the handful of cakes mum would make for family and friends. I totally underestimated the amount of time it would take to make, as well as the amount of ingredients you need and the preparation needed before it even goes in the oven. Last Monday evening was a late one for me, being use to making sponge cakes which can easily be baked in 30 minutes, I was a little thrown when I realised a fruit cake needs to bake slowly at a low heat for almost 4 hours! I was really happy with the results though, it was worth all the hard work and effort!
The below recipe is Mary Berry’s Classic Fruit Cake from BBC Food Recipes
- 350g/12oz currants
- 225g/8oz sultanas
- 225g/8oz raisins
- 175g/6oz glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
- 175g/6oz ready-to-eat dried apricots, snipped into pieces
- 75g/3oz mixed candied peel, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp brandy, plus extra brandy for ‘feeding’ the cake
- 275g/10 oz plain flour
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- ¾ tsp ground mixed spice
- 400g/14oz butter, softened
- 400g/14oz dark muscovado sugar
- 5 free-range eggs
- 65g/2½oz whole almonds, chopped (skins left on)
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 1 lemon, grated zest only
- 1 orange, grated zest only
- Put the currants, sultanas, raisins, rinsed, dried and quartered cherries, snipped apricots and chopped mixed peel in a large bowl. Stir in the brandy, cover the bowl and leave in a cool place overnight.
- Lightly grease a 23cm/9 inch deep round cake tin.
- Cut a strip of greaseproof paper to fit twice around the sides of the tin. Then fold the bottom edge of the strip up by about 2.5cm creasing it firmly, then open out the fold and cut slanting lines into this narrow strip at intervals.
- Put a circle of greaseproof paper into the base of the tin, lightly grease the outer edge and then fit the prepared strip of parchment with the snipped edge in the base of the tin to line the sides of the tin.
- Preheat the oven to 140C.
- Put the flour, grated nutmeg, mixed spice, butter, sugar, eggs, chopped almonds, black treacle and the citrus zest into a large bowl and beat well to mix thoroughly.
- Fold in the soaked fruits.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.
- Decorate the top with the whole blanched almonds and glacé cherries, pushing them lightly into the top of the cake mixture.
- Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 4¼-4 ¾ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. I found that within 3 and a half hours the cake was firm, and after an extra 20 minutes in the oven the cake was completely baked and the skewer came out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
- When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and ‘feed’ with a little splash of brandy.
- Once the cake is completely cold, leave the lining paper on the cake, wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil.
- Store in a cool, dry place for up to three months, feeding at intervals with more brandy.
I didn’t need to store this for long, as it was needed for last Friday. Instead, I had the exciting task of decorating the cake ready for an 80th birthday. As I have never made a fruit cake before, I was really unsure how to actually decorate it, but starting from basics (and remembering what my mum would do) I bought some pre-packaged marzipan and fondant roll on icing, as well as some apricot jam and started there.
To Decorate your Fruit Cake:
Firstly, warm the apricot jam in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You will only need a few tablespoons to cover the entire cake, and can spread it evenly by using a pastry brush.
Roll out the marzipan until it is approximately 1/2 inch thick, and gently place it onto the surface of the cake, making sure to cover the sides as well. This should be left overnight to set before layering on the fondant icing.
As you can see, pink was the favourite colour and roses were a must. The numbers are hand cut and the large fondant roses were made purely of fondant, will a light glaze over the top. You may remember my post on fondant roses for a friends birthday cupcakes? These were made in exactly the same way, but by using a larger circular cut out, and also adding a few extra circles to the roll.
The other flowers are all fondant again, but were used with a flower cutter. These are brilliant! I would definitely recommend a set if you work a lot with fondant. They come in some many different shapes and all various sizes. I have a large collection, and they can be used for cookie cutting as well as fondant.
I was really pleased with how it turned out, and the time and hard work was all worth it in the end! Now, onto the next task of making eggless cupcake!
Have you ever made a fruit cake before? How did you find the whole experience?