Tuesday 19 June 2012

Christmas baking 2012 - Part 1

EOFYXCs (aka, End Of Financial Year Xmas Cakes)

You can buy cakes, but you can't buy time, making these cakes rather special!  This is the second time I have made Christmas cakes by my end-of-financial-year rule.  The idea is to make them before 30 June so they have time to mature into beautifully rich and moist cakes, ready for eating.  I gave one each to my parents and in-laws last year and they loved them.

These cakes fill your kitchen/house with beautiful aromas while baking.  It's a great thing to do in the middle of an Australian winter.  If you're making these as gifts, it'll also free up your November/December to enjoy the sunshine.

Here are the ones I made this year on 17 June 2012:

I adapted my recipe from the Rich Fruit Cake recipe in Country Women's Association: Cakes, 2009, page 26.

Here's what went into them (for 2 x 20 cm round cakes and 1 x 25 cm square cake):
  • 1 kg sultanas
  • 710 g currants (they were all I had left in the cupboard)
  • 500 g raisins
  • 500 g crystallised ginger, chopped
  • 200 g mixed peel
  • 300 g walnuts
  • 540 g glace cherries (I like random measures!)
  • ~4 tsp mixed spice
  • ~1 tsp salt
  • ~4 tsp ground cinnamon (I roasted 4 cassia sticks in the warming oven and enlisted help of hubby to grind with mortar and pestle)
  • ~4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • To soak fruit in: ~1 cup dry sherry (original recipe asks for sweet sherry but I only had dry McWilliam's Royal Reserve dry sherry) + "happy" glug of brandy (as much/little as you'd like. I used St Agnes 3 Star brandy)
  • 600 g butter (original recipe would have required 1 kg but I found this was too much from last year's results)
  • dollop of molasses (I have a knack for not measuring! There was plenty of sugar from the fruit in this so I decided to cut out the sugar altogether and instead at a touch of molasses for flavour/colour)
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 200 self raising flour

(given the large quantities in this recipe, you may have to do this in 2 mixing bowls and add each quantity of ingredients in halves)
  1. On the day/night before baking, get the biggest mixing bowl you have (if not a clean bucket!) and soak the fruit in sherry/brandy.  I only managed to fit the currants, raisins, glace cherries and mixed peel into my bowl, so these got soaked in sherry and brandy.  Next time, I would get a bigger container so I could soak all my fruit.
  2. On the day of baking, add walnuts to the mixed fruit.
  3. In a separate bowl, melt the butter, and then add the spices, salt and molasses.  Mix.
  4. Into a separate bowl, crack the eggs and whisk/beat to combine.  Tip eggs into butter mixture and mix until even.
  5. Pour egg/butter mixture over fruit/nuts.
  6. Weigh out flours.  Add to wet ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Add extra brandy/sherry/water if mixture looks too dry.
  7. Spoon into baking tins.  Tap tins on benchtop/floor to ensure the cake batter settles.  You don't want gaps.
  8. Bake at 140 degrees C (if you have a fan-forced oven) / 150 deg C (if not) for 2 hours.  Although I didn't do this, I would have covered my cakes with foil for at least the first hour of baking to prevent the cakes from drying.  After a post-baking chat with the master baker (aka my English mother in-law who's full of baking wisdom), I realised most recipes call for fruit cakes to be baked with foil to seal in the goodness.  Traps for young players!!
While the cakes look OK, I cut part of the square one to see the texture inside.  Unfortunately it was a bit dry.  I will be pouring brandy over these every now and again until Christmas, so I'm hoping that will add some much needed moisture.

I won't be using the loose-base tin again.  I found that the butter seeped out the bottom while baking.  That could have been a reason why my square cake (baked in the loose-base tin) was a little dry.  I can't check the round cakes - they're gifts!  Fingers crossed they're not as dry.

When the cakes cooled, I poured brandy over the top and wrapped them.  They're now sitting in a cupboard waiting for the next "drink".  They'll get a sip every now and again til they're wrapped up as gifts.

The fruit and nut mixture (not all of it is in this bowl):

The round cakes:

The square cake (you can see where the butter seeped out at the base - I won't be using a loose-base tin next time.  They're good for tarts, not so good for heavy fruit cakes):

1 comment:

  1. wow they would be as tasty as they look- we love the richness and the texture and its not as sweet as the commercial ones- we keep half of the cake to eat in the Aussie winter , yumm ....