16th February 2012
Middle of the afternoon before I decided to bake a cake. Haven’t cooked a fruit cake since baking Mary’s fast Mincemeat Christmas Cake, so thought it was about time for another.
As usual, oven on to preheat.
I must admit I have never made a fruit cake before using a tin of condensed milk, this was a new one to me. So, saucepan out of the cupboard and the condensed milk poured in. Next you had to add all the fruit and cherries, together with the butter. Raisins weighed and added, same with the sultanas – at this stage I was beginning to think I should have picked a bigger saucepan, it was filling up rather quickly. Currants weighed and added and then the cherries. Luckily this time it didn’t say you had to wash them, just roughly chopped. I halved the cherries as I’d rather have a good half cherry than a small piece of cherry in my fruit cake. The pan by this time was nearly full to the top. I then realised that I hadn’t added the butter and the next step was to place the pan over a low heat until the butter had melted into the condensed milk. Well if I put the butter on top of the fruit it was going to sit there for quite a while. So, the butter was thinly sliced and put down the side of the pan.
The smell from the melted butter, milk and fruit was lovely. It reminded me very much of Christmas. Once all mixed together the mixture had to simmer gently for five minutes – stirring occasionally. Once the five minutes were up it had to cool for 10 minutes.
During the 10 minutes I greased and lined my 7″ round cake tin. Some people don’t like lining tins, but I somehow find it very therapeutic!
Tin lined, so now time to measure the flour and spices out into a bowl. Cinnamon and mixed spice were the spices today. Slight panic as I could find Allspice in the cupboard but no mixed spice to start with. Eventually I found it – sign of relief.
A well was then made in the flour mixture ready for the eggs and fruit mixture. I’m never sure whether or not you should beat the eggs before putting them in the cake, so to be on the safe side I very lightly whisk them, just to break them up. Eggs in, fruit mixture in – blend together.
I spooned the mixture into the tin, but at one point noticed that some of the flour had not been mixed in properly, so a quick stir to the mixture already in the tin to combine it all together and then in with the remaining mixture. Top levelled out and into the oven it went. Mary said for 1 3/4 hours to 2 hours, so I set the timer for 1 3/4 hours.
After an hour the kitchen was smelling extremely Christmassy and I thought I should have put some carols on, but I don’t think the children would have appreciated it. I may have got away with it if they had been at school, but not during half term!
After the 1 3/4 hours, the cake wasn’t quite done, so I set the timer for another 10 minutes. It always seems to be the way at the moment in this house that as soon as I sit down for my evening meal, the cake needs to come out of the oven. After 10 minutes, I still wasn’t happy, the cake tester was still coming out slightly sticky. In total the cake was in the oven for 2 1/4 hours, slightly longer than Mary suggested.
I let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turned it out and removed the greaseproof paper. I was surprised at how dark the sides of the cake were in relation to the top. The top was, I thought, golden brown as Mary said it should be.
By the time the cake had cooled, it was too late to try some, so I had to wait until the next day – nice cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake for elevenses. To me the cake was a little too sweet, obviously the condensed milk and had a very slight caramel taste to it. The family seem to like it as it is disappearing fast. I think I would make this again, but may experiment a bit with the spices.