Rich Cake (Christmas Cake)

In my personal opinion, I think a well made Christmas Cake is worth every effort put into making it. From what i've read, in the West the preparation of a cake mix usually begins a year in advance. In many parts of Europe people gift each other their cake mixes as part of the Christmas tradition and all that's left to do for the person who receives such a gorgeous gift is to just add flour, eggs & butter & bake it! Mmmmmm..I should ask my friends to start this tradition cuz I really feel that the Christmas Cake recipe is the mother of all recipes (with so much time & effort that goes into it). It is also for this reason that maybe the cake keeps (in an airtight box) for almost 6 months to 1 year after it has been baked. This is typically so because of all that rum or brandy that is used to soak up the fruits & later feed the cake that helps preserve it.

I have been hunting for the right cake recipe for ages. I personally believe that since 'tis the season to be jolly, any cake made with loads of love is a yummy cake after all. However, I will not stop improvising on this cake (like i've done for the past few years). This cake didnt turn out as dark as preferred but it was quite delicious & moist inside (never mind the adventure & near death experience behind!)

Rich Cake
You Need:

Fruits to be soaked:
Soak the above dry fruits & keep covered. You can keep overnight or over several days if preferred (in an airtight jar, stirring once a day)

For the mixed spice
For the Cake
Method: know the drill...beat the butter & sugar, then add the eggs, then the sifted flour...fold, pour into a baking dish....bake...and voila! your cake is ready....Sigh! I wish it was as simple as gobbling up a cake...but since patience is a virtue, I try to take a deep breath & enjoy the process of baking a cake...cuz I've had many a disasters while baking the Christmas cake (from completely burnt to undone - I've seen 'em all). This is my fourth year into baking my Christmas cake & it was the first time that I moved to a conventional oven - the OTG, from my true blue friend - the Electrolux Microwave with Convection which has seen me through many many cakes & breads.

To begin with:

- Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt & mixed spice. Keep aside
- Roll the nuts in some flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake
- Grease a 8" pan with butter & dust it with flour evenly across the bottom & the sides of the pan OR line the baking dish with parchment paper
- Set aside 1 cup of the sugar for caramelising and toss the remaining into a large bowl and add the butter (at room temperature)
- Beat butter & sugar till fluffy for about 3-4 minutes (till the mixture looks a bit pale)
- Add 1 egg at a time, mixing it well & beating it along with the butter & sugar. Beat for a minute & repeat with the next egg till all eggs have been blended well. If the mixture appears like its curdling sprinkle some flour
- Add the flour & orange juice alternately ensuring that everything is well mixed
- Take a thick bottomed pan & add the sugar set aside for caramelising and stir on low flame till it becomes a blackish syrup syrup. Add 1/2 cup of hot water but be careful as the syrup & hot water combo may splutter
- Add the caramelised syrup to the batter
- Stir in the soaked dry fruits and the nuts and the rind
- Fold well. Test the consistency of the batter by dropping a little from the spatula from a height. If its too dry, it wont budge! If its too watery, it will be all sloppy. You just need the right consistency. So you can add either a little flour (about 1 tbsp) or some warm milk (abt 2tbsps) as the case may be
- Preheat oven to 140 degree celcius for about 5-6 mins
- Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and place on the centre rack of the oven
- Bake for 55-60 minutes and check if the cake is done (skewer/knife comes out clean)
- When the cake is done, remove & cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container
- You can use the brandy that was used to soak the fruits to also feed the cake. This is to ensure that the cake remains moist & increase its longevity. Poke a few holes on the surface of the cake with a toothpick or skewer and pour a few drops of the brandy or rum once a week.

Now...get set...go! And tell me how it turned out!

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