I have been looking online for the recipe I used yesterday from Delicious magazine, but I can't find it at all...It is Mary Berry's recipe [one of her Christmas cake recipes] so I shall share my version of it, on the basis that a list of ingredients is not copywritable, and anyway, I changed it slightly!
The amount in the magazine is supposed to fill a 23cm round cake tin, but I haven't got one of those - first challenge of the day! Actually, though, it filled a 17cm one AND a 19cm one amply, so I managed to get two smaller round fruit cakes out of the amount. Then I made it all again, and filled a 18.5cm square tin and a 2lb loaf tin from the second batch. The aroma in my kitchen yesterday was amazing!
At the weekend, I soaked the fruit in the brandy. The original intention was to soak it overnight, but it ended up being for about three days. It certainly didn't come to any harm, and we stirred it often.
The soaking part is for this fruit - and these are the amounts I used, not the exact original recipe -
500g currants [just used the whole packet!]
150g dried apricots
200g glace cherries [these are expensive and 300g for each mixture seemed too many]
80g mixed peel
The dried apricots were of the "ready-to-eat" variety, and I used organic ones, which were all Sainsbury's had available, but it meant that they weren't too bright an orange colour and blended in well with the rest of the fruit. I had to chop them up into small pieces.
The cherries were quartered and then rinsed and dried of all the gloopy sugary syrup.
All of that was set in a bowl and 4 generous tablespoons of brandy was mixed through it. Lovely smell!
Yesterday, I double lined and greased the baking tins, including the 100+ year old one from my grandfather's bakery which is the smallest one, and got on with the baking.
I beat 300g of margerine [never buy real butter, sorry!] and 300g dark brown sugar [muscovado is the recommended, but hadn't got any of that...] together, and then slowly added 5 eggs beaten with a tablespoon of black treacle, alternating with the flour mixture [300g plain flour, 2 tsps mixed spice and half a tsp of nutmeg and the grated rind of a lemon] so that it all mixed together nicely.
Then I put all the fruit in. Major arm exercise followed as I mixed the fruit into the batter!
I shared the mixture between the two round tins, then repeated the whole exercise to make the mixture for the square and loaf tins. They all went in a low [120C] oven together. The loaf cake was done in just under two hours, the round cakes took about three, and the square cake about 3 and a half. I just kept checking them!
One tip I did find very handy was to cover the cake with a circle [or square as appropriate] of baking paper so that the top didn't brown too quickly. I found that this also avoided the odd burnt pieces of fruit that I have had rise to the top before and sit there on top of the cake like Nanny MacPhee's wart!
The loaf cake has been used for taste testing already, and UJ and the FH have judged it most satisfactory, moist and full of flavour. Success indeed.
Now the remaining three cakes are to be double wrapped and stored away until the week before Christmas when they will be covered in marzipan and iced. Looking forward to that! Photos at that stage.