Friday, December 02, 2011

Pineapple & Ginger Christmas cake

It is only a few short years since I truly mastered my Queen Anne Fruit Cake recipe. As good as this cake is (and it is exceptionally good), I have found I have friends who enjoy a different set of flavours at Christmas. So I amended my fruit cake recipe to turn it into something a little different. I took out the cherries, because lots of people don’t like them, and I replaced them with glace pineapple and ginger. Last year was the second time I baked this combo and the feedback from friends I gave it two was that it was a taste sensation. So I thought I’d share the recipe with you and see if you like.

Ingredients
250g each of currants, sultanas and raisins
90g each of dates and pitted prunes
60g of mixed peel
60g glace pineapple
100g glace ginger (do not use crystalised ginger)
100g whole blanched almonds
2 tblsp each of rum, brandy and sherry
5 eggs
250g butter
250g brown sugar
300g plain flour
1tsp each of ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice
1 tblsp pineapple jam
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp parisienne browning essence
2 tblsp golden syrup
1 tsp glycerine
1 tblsp lemon essence

1. Put all the fruit into a large bowl, making sure you cut any large pieces into quarters (like dates, prunes and glace pineapple). Add the rum, brandy and sherry and mix to thoroughly wet the fruit. Cover tightly and leave to soak for as long as you can - a week at the minimum, but a month is best if you can! I actually soak my fruit in a five litre bucket which has a lid. I periodically pick the bucket up and shake it so the fruit and fluids can mingle better.

2. On the day that you bake, prepare your tin by double lining the bottom and sides with thick baking paper. The paper should peak an inch and a half above the top of the tin. Then wrap the exterior of the tin with a double layer of newspaper. This is to stop the cake from burning. I also put my cake tins on a baking tray which I’ve lined with newspaper to further prevent burning.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 120 degrees celcius.

4. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. You may need to scrape the mixing bowl sides down periodically.

4. In a separate dish, combine pineapple jam, vanilla, parisienne essence, golden syrup, glycerine and lemon essence. Mix until combined.

5. Add the jam mixture and the flour to butter mixture. Mix slowly on a low speed to gently combine – if you over mix the batter your cake will be tough! Add spices and mix until combined.

6. Pour the cake batter over the dried fruit mix and combine it using clean hands. This is much easier than using a spoon since fruit cake mix is extremely heavy. Once the fruit and batter is combined, pour into the tin, being careful not to flatten the paper lining on the sides. This mix will neatly fill an 8 inch round tin. You can also divide it between two 6 inch square tins.

7. Bake on a low shelf in the oven for 3 hours. Test if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer through the middle. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

8. Pour one tablespoon of brandy over the top of the hot cake – it will sizzle, which is fine. Cool the cake in the tin for about half an hour, then turn it out and cool it on a wire rack. This will take several hours. I usually wrap it in a tea towel and leave it to cool over night.

9. To store your cake, peel off any remaining baking paper. Tightly wrap the cake in cling film. Then wrap it in aluminium foil. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until it is required. I suggest you cook your Christmas cake about six weeks in advance. If you choose to do it earlier, open it once a month and pour another tablespoon of brandy over it. I promise you the flavour will be amazing when you finally serve it.

A well stored fruit cake can be kept up to one year. Light and air are its enemy, so be very careful to store your cake correctly.

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