Saturday, December 24, 2011
The past few days were madness. I was caught in the rain countless of times and barely avoided an onset of flu. The shops were filled with mobs, the train service went kaput a few times and Orchard Road flooded (yes, again). However, yours truly survived, coming home with presents, groceries enough to feed an army and even a couple of ornaments for the tree. A jar of apple cranberry chutney and bottles of chili jam were gotten over with, the goodies wrapped and stuck under the tree, the house cleaned to a presentable state for Vijay's parent's visit. I even managed to bake this cake.
Taken from a page of my mother's battered old recipe notebook, this was my late father's favorite of all her baked goods. I'm pretty sure it came from the back of a Big Sister Fruit Mix box, just like most of the recipes of our mothers. You can really whip this up in no time. There is no boiling, separating of eggs, basting with booze and other hair pulling tricks. Only if you wish, and especially if you have a bottle of stray rum, cognac or brandy lying around, make the drunken version. After a little over an hour of having your house smelling like Christmas, you will be reward with a moist, just spiced enough cake to be savored in small bites after a possible mayhem of turkey, ham and lamb roasts.
Except if you, like me, decided to spend another (few) hours fiddling with royal icing, piping nozzle, sugar sprinkles and various designs of snowflakes. In my defense, it was dark and raining yesterday (yes, nothing new to report here) and I got a little carried away after dressing up the border of the cake. Before I knew it, there were four sizes of snowflakes, employment of a pair of tweezers and it was time for dinner by the time I was done. It is, after all, Christmas. This is probably the only time I would bother with royal icing.
Have a blessed Christmas with you and yours, now you'll have to excuse me. The ham (and parents) are waiting in the kitchen.
Fruit Cake [Printer Friendly Version]
Cake recipe from my mother, possibly from the back of a Big Sister's Fruit Mix box. Royal icing recipe adapted from Yossi Arefi-Afshar's Apt. 2B - Baking Co.
Yield: 1 8-inch round cake
Notes: For this cake I didn't use a boxed fruit mix but instead mixed up some dried blueberries, cranberries and sultanas. Though I've chosen to make an alcoholic version of this cake, my mother's recipe is booze free and equally good. You can steep the fruit mix in a warm concoction of orange juice, star anise, vinegar and palm sugar to give it an extra kick. Fruit cakes are best made ahead and allowed to mature in flavor for at least 2 days.
- 375 grams fruit mix
- 500 milliliters rum
- 9 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon all spice (five spice powder is also good)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 ounces light brown sugar
- 7 ounces salted butter, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a sterilized canning jar, soak the fruit mix of your combination in the rum, ensuring that the fruits are submerged completely in the liquid. Cover tightly and let it sit anywhere between 2 weeks to a month. When ready to make the cake, strain the fruits the night before and let stand to dry. Preheat oven to 190°C with a rack at the lower third. Grease and line an 8-inch round cake tin, set aside.
Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl, fold in the prepared fruit mix, making sure all of them are well coated with flour. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar till smooth and light. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl well. Add in the spices and vanilla extract. Remove bowl from mixer. With a spatula, fold in the flour and fruit mixture gently. Pour batter into prepared tin.
Bake for 45 minutes or until cake is done. Cool on a wire rack completely before storage. Cake keeps up to a year in the freezer and 3 months in the refrigerator, wrapped well.
- 1 egg white
- 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk. Beat with hand or stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Use immediately to decorate, covering bowl with a damp dish towel to avoid icing from drying up.
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