A Traditional Fruitcake

Recipe from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Fruitcake Notes

Before jumping in and making the fruitcake I wanted to share a few important notes with you. These were all a part of Tante Stephanie's teaching and the notes my mother made. With a little care while preparing the fruitcake and considering these notes, I am sure practically anyone will be able to make a wonderful fruity and delicious fruitcake equally as exquisite as the ones I had the pleasure of enjoying at Tante Stephanie's or later at my mum's.

So, in future if you should ever make a fruit cake, either this one or any other one, you will find some very helpful notes here to refer to.

Basics
The batter for the fruitcake is basically a regular cream cake batter, where butter is creamed together with the sugar and then the eggs are added and beaten in portions to make a smooth mixture.

Before you start read the recipe carefully and set out all the required kitchen machines and ingredients. Measure all the ingredients as required by the recipe and set aside.

You will need to allot a lot of time to make a really good fruitcake, because the preparations and the baking time takes a little bit longer than most cakes.

Before you start with the batter prepare your cake form carefully, by lining it with baking paper and place the oven rack/baking sheet right in the middle of the oven. Then pre-heat the oven at the required temperature.

Preparing the Cake Form
Butter or spray your form, making sure that you butter the sides and base well. Fruitcakes require to be lined with a double layer of baking paper, on the sides as well as on the bottom. Cut out two sheets of baking paper to fit the base and strips to fit the sides of your cake form. Line the base with both sheets of baking paper and overlap the strips for the sides. Press down and straighten out all the creases.

Because of the longer baking time, fruitcakes require more protection from the heat. This is basically to avoid the cake from getting too dark around the sides and base. Therefore, pack the outer sides of your form in a few sheets of newspaper. As the oven is set to a low temperature this is totally unhazardous. To protect the form with newspaper, take a few sheets and wrap it around the form tightly, making sure that the newspaper is not sticking in the form. Then simply tie some kitchen thread around the from tightly.

The Cake
As I mentioned above, it is advisable to weigh all the ingredients and prepare your kitchen machines in advance. Sieve your flour and baking powder, chop up your dried fruit and nuts. If using dates or prunes, check if you need to pit them. Take the butter out of the refrigerator in advance so that it is soft once you are ready to use it. Even eggs should be at room temperature and should be taken out in advance.

When is the cake done?
This was my mum's single one question to Tante Stephanie and many years later, I too asked my mum the same question. Every oven is different, gas, electric, etc. Tante Stephanie simply suggested to use the old toothpick trick. About 20 to 30 minutes before the required baking time of the cake is up, stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean then it is ready and can be taken out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool in the cake form overnight. Fruitcakes are actually the most wonderful type of cakes. Their aromas and flavors infuse with each other as time goes on. Tante Stephanie compared the fruitcake to a good bottle of wine - time brings out the best of flavors. So, by leaving the cake for a few days or, as we do, a few weeks - you will be rewarded with an aromatic, fruity and moist cake.




Ingredients

250 g soft butter
230 g brown sugar
4 eggs - lightly beaten
160 g raisins
160 g currants
185 g mixed dried fruit - dates, figs, apricots, prunes
60 g dried cherries
60 g Amarena cherries - substitute with cocktail cherries
95 g powdered almond
90 g almond slivers
240 g all-purpose flour - sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder - sieved
2 tablespoons rum
120 g whole almonds - peeled

Notes about the ingredients:
The original Dundee cake is made with currants, raisins and sultanas. My mother substituted the sultanas with a variety of mixed dried fruit. Tante Stephanie also used cocktail cherries in her version of the cake. My own touch was substituting theses with delicious Amarena cherries. Furthermore, Tante Stephanie used dried orange an lemon peel in her cake, which gave a wonderful fragrance. This time I chose to use dried, slightly sour cherries. Cranberries would also make a great additions to the cake.



Method

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Prepare a round cake form (20 cm diameter) as explained above.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar using a hand mixer or your kitchen machine, until smooth. Slowly add the eggs in portions - beating each portion until in has been fully incorporated into the batter.

Transfer to a larger mixing bowl and add all of the dried fruit, Amarena cherries and the almond slivers and powder. Fold into the batter.

Add the sieved flour and baking powder and pour in the rum. Using a metal spoon carefully fold into the butter cream.

Pour the batter into the cake form and smooth out the top. Line with the whole almonds. Bake for 2 to 21/2 hours. About half an hour before the the time is up check to see if the cake is done. Place a toothpick into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean it is ready to be taken out.

Allow to cool for at least 4 hours, recommended overnight. Store in an airtight container for a few days, to allow the flavors to infuse.