Moist Fruit cake
This moist fruit cake is dark, dense, spicy, fruity, and indulgent. The recipe is a moderate and modern take on the traditional fruit cake. It is lighter and easier on the palate but will hit all the right notes expected of a traditional fruit cake. It is mostly used for weddings and as the Christmas Cake in Nigeria.
The traditional fruit cake was my dear mother’s speciality. She made it for special occasions like Christmas, birthdays and church confirmations. They were made months ahead, and never just one single cake. The excitement was palpable on cake baking day, because good things always followed it, especially the licking of the remaining decadent batter in the huge basin. This was a huge basin reserved for cakes.
Ours was a typical Nigerian home, with plenty of relatives and live in helps, so in the morning of cake baking day, everybody knew what was expected of them.
Nobody cared about measuring ingredients then, the large tins of blueband® margarine would be opened and emptied into the basin, in goes the sugar and the creaming began. The grown-ups took their turns creaming while my mum supervised, checking and once the butter-sugar mix is declared creamed, we all rejoiced because it was smooth sailing from then and it brought us closer to the ‘lick’.
Meanwhile, the eggs were cracked, first into a small bowl before dumping into the egg basin. This was done to avoid adding a spoilt egg accidentally and thereby ruining the whole batch. So egg after egg was checked this way until all the crates were done.
The dry fruits which had been soaking in brandy, not just any cheap brandy, was another attraction, everybody got a bit before it went into the basin. I loved those brandy soaked fruits. She would then assemble everything, taste it like you will taste our traditional Onugbu soup, then certify it excellent.
Lined tins filled, cakes baked and cooled, doused with more brandy, wrapped tightly in plastic bags then aluminium foil and stored in covered basins. She would meticulously feed the cakes with brandy week after week, wrapped and put them back in their basins. You were only allowed to look and long for that far away day. She said the cake had to mature before it will be eaten, so it helped age and ripen the cake, thereby building and intensifying the flavour. Those Fruit cakes of hers were legendary within our circle.
This moist fruit cake recipe is not my Mother’s fruit cake, this one takes into account those who find fruit cakes too dense and rich, the flavour is more restrained.
For those who, though like the flavour of dry fruits but find it a nuisance in cakes, just grind the fruit in a food processor or dry mill of your blender before adding it to your cake batter.
To make Moist fruit cake:
4 cups mixed dry fruit 1 cup glace cherry (halved) 3/4 cup rum, brandy or apple juice 3 cups flour 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup butter 2 cups dark brown sugar, (packed) 4 eggs 1/4 cup golden syrup (light molasses or honey) 1/2 cup apple juice or water
Brush two 9-by-5-inch cake pans with butter or oil and lightly sprinkle with flour.
Place fruit, cherry and rum in a bowl and set aside for 24 hours t0 3 days or microwave on high for 1½ minutes and leave to stand for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and baking powder, mix to blend then set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar till well combined. The colour should be a pale brown.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add flour mixture, mix gently until well combined.
Stir in syrup and apple juice.
Add fruits with any soaking liquid remaining, stir to spread fruits evenly.
Fill prepared pan 2/3 to 3/4 full, smooth top and bake for 2 hours 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on top of a wire rack till completely cooled, turn out of the pan.
Brush with brandy or rum and wrap the cake in plastic wrap, then in aluminium foil and keep in a cool, dark place. Brush and feed with brandy or rum once a week for at least 6 weeks before serving. This builds the flavour of the cake and ripens it. Though if you are out of time or impatient, from 3 weeks will do.
FILLINGS AND FROSTINGS:
Royal icing, fondant.
Wrapped with plastic wrap or foil, keep in a cool dark place for 6 to 8 weeks, brush with rum once every week.
If you prefer light and fluffy, then try this Pound cake.
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