It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, I’ll admit I’ve been doing quite a lot of baking from the Clandestine Cake Club Book and have really been enjoying it. As I’ve said before I’m struggling with these last few recipes, although I know I need to bake them to get to the end of the book. Perhaps I should hide all my other baking books until I’ve finished this one. The problem is the family have also been enjoying the cakes from The Clandestine Cake Book too and they know that there are only a few recipes left from this book that they will like.
I have two fruit cakes left to bake, I thought I’d bake this one with a view to it being our Christmas Cake, but it wasn’t to be…
The first part of this recipe has to be prepared the night before you wish to bake as you have to leave the fruit in the alcohol overnight. So the first thing to do was to put into a large bowl 175 glace cherries (Mary does say to rinse them under water before you chop them into quarters, but I’ll admit I didn’t. With the amount of fruit in this cake, I didn’t think they’d have chance to sink). Next I weighed out 350 g currants, 225g sultanas, 225g raisins, 175g dried apricots (chopped) and 75g candied peel. After mixing the fruit together 4 tbsp of brandy went in and was stirred through. It was a case of covering the fruit up and leaving it overnight to soak.
The next day the oven was put on to preheat at Fan 120°C and a 23cm (9″) deep round cake tin was lined (both the base and sides) with a double layer of baking parchment. Luckily I had just enough to do this!
Into my huge mixing bowl I weighed out 275g plain flour, 1/2 level tsp grated nutmeg, 1/2 level tsp ground mixed spice, 400g softened butter, 400g dark muscovado sugar, 5 eggs, 65g chopped almonds, 1 tbsp black treacle and the grated rind from a lemon and an orange. This was beaten together with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed together. I thought it would be quite hard to do, but for once I obviously had the butter at the correct softness. The soaked fruits were then folded into the mixture. I was so pleased that I had used my largest mixing bowl!
Into the prepared cake tin went the mixture and the top was levelled out. Gosh I thought, this is going to be a very big cake. Mary does say to decorate the top with whole blanched almonds and halved glace cherries (pushing them lightly into the top), but as I thought I’d use this for our Christmas Cake I decided to leave these off as the cake would be iced at a later stage.
The top of the cake was covered loosely with a double layer of baking parchment and the cake was popped into the oven for 4-4.5 hours. My cake actually took 4.5 hours to cook, at which point it was firm to the touch and the old trick of inserting a skewer into the cake came out clean. It was removed from the oven and then left in the tin to cool As the cake came out of the oven at around 9.30pm in the evening, the cake was left overnight to cool. Mary does state to take it out of the tin when it is almost cold, but I wasn’t going to wait up until after midnight to do this. It came out of the tin easily in the morning and the parchment peeled off easily too.
The base of the cake was pierced with a fine skewer and a little brandy was drizzled over the top. I should have then wrapped the cake up in parchment and hidden it, but it did look very big and I was beginning to have doubts as to whether we wanted a cake this size for Christmas. I do like fruit cake, but the whole family isn’t really a fan of rich fruit cakes. I like a lighter fruit cake with ‘a bit of sponge’ in it! Anyway, that evening my husband asked if there was any cake in the house – there wasn’t – this cake was the only one. He too thought the cake would be too big for Christmas so we decided to cut into it.
Tastewise it was very good, but it was a very rich cake indeed and you only really needed a small slice. I think a week after baking it we still have almost half of the cake left and I gave my parents a quarter of it when they popped in the other afternoon, so I’m glad I didn’t keep it for Christmas, because I’m sure we would still be eating it at Easter next year.
A tip from Mary at the bottom of the recipe says that you can vary the fruit if you like as long as you make sure the total weight is the same as in the recipe. Seven more recipes to go…