The hens will be off the lay soon with the days getting so short. While I still have a moderate glut of eggs I am storing them up in some fruit cakes that will keep for months providing good food through the winter.
I have used a very easy recipe from Aunty Letitia and it is rich in eggs and butter and fairly quick and simple as far as fruit cakes go.
A fruit cake is very heavy and dense with fruit and has far less flour than other types of cakes. In fact the flour is more about the binding than the structure of the cake and has no raising agent.
They are cooked over long periods in a low heat oven so that they stay moist.
One of the mysteries for most people is the paper buffering which protects the cake from over browning and help retain moisture during the cooking.
I like an old fashioned heavy tin and definitely NOT one of those pretty coloured anodized tins as they tend to heat up so much and burn the outside of the cake. I save all my paper packet from the flour as they are sturdy and double thickness.
Lightly grease the tin, and I really do mean lightly because it is just a light smear to help the paper lining stick to the tin. Place the paper around the inside edges of the tin so that it extends up a few centimetres above the tin edge. I make a second lining of baking paper and then place the paper wrapper from the butter on the bottom.
Simple recycling again! There really isn't much I throw out, well not the first time round anyway. You can use brown paper and foil but check that third drawer first hey!
I should have a photo of filling the cake pan but I forgot so I hope the explanation will be clear enough.
Put four good blobs of cake mix in each corner, about a fistful size I guess. Pack and push it into the corners so you will get a nice squared shape and the paper will be stable. Spoon in the rest of the mixture and smooth it over with your spoon or spatula.
Into the oven on 150C and let it cook very slowly for about 2 1/2- 3 hrs. See the cuts in the top where I was testing by inserting a knife blade till it came out cleanly.
Now pull it out and let it cool in the tin by placing it on a cake rack.
Turn it out when it is cold and peel off the paper carefully, eating all the stuck caramely bits off the paper.
The butter and fruit has created some heavenly caramel flavours.
Bright and glossy...
A rich moist heavy brick of a cake.
Cream together 1lb of butter and 1lb of sugar
Sift 4oz plain flour and 1lb of Self Raising flour with 1 teas mixed spice
Beat 8 eggs with 1 teas of vanilla essence
Add the flour and eggs alternatively to the creamed butter
Add 1 1/2 lbs of mixed fruit
Cook in a slow oven at 150C for 2 1/2 hrs or till cooked.
The mixed fruit can be your very own mix. I used sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, almonds, walnuts.
Some say a fruit cake is best left 3-4 weeks to mature.
Wrap and store in a cake tin.