Monday, 17 October 2016

Ginger & Dried Fruit Fruitcake

It's possible this looks quite a lot like our traditional family fruitcake that I make for Christmas, because it's possible I used that as a model. Well okay, I confess. I did! This version has a selection of lighter and perhaps more sprightly dried fruits rather than the traditional glacé fruits of the other. I also added lots of ginger and cardamom because I like them. The results are definitely more in line with modern tastes. I'm not sure I'd say I like this one better, but it's very good. If I had made them both, how would I ever choose? I couldn't. I'd have to eat both of them. It would be sad, if only for my waistline.

I am posting this now because if you want to have fruitcake for Christmas now is the time to make it. Hair-raising but true. Plum pudding ditto.

Ginger & Dried Fruit Fruitcake

Mix the Fruit: 
225 grams (1/2 pound) blanched almonds
225 grams (1/2 pound) dried apples
225 grams (1/2 pound) dried pears
225 grams (1/2 pound) dried apricots
225 grams (1/2 pound) dried cherries
225 grams (1/2 pound) golden raisins (sultanas)
1/3 cup soft unbleached flour

To blanch the almonds, drop them into boiling water to cover for one minute. Drain them, and pinch each one out of their papery skin as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Chop the apples, pears, and apricots into pieces about the size of the dried cherries. Mix all the fruit in a very large mixing bowl, then stir in the flour until the fruit is evenly coated with it.

Make the Batter: 
3 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh gingerroot
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3-4 pods green cardamom pods
1/2 cup good sherry
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
generous quantities more of sherry for brushing

Measure the flour, and mix in the baking powder and salt. Set aside. Butter a 10" tube pan, and line the bottom with a circle of buttered parchment paper. Dust the cake pan with flour. Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Cream the butter, and beat in the sugar and the egg yolks, one or two at a time, until quite light and fluffy. (Put the whites aside in another mixing bowl.) Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the sherry, then half the flour. Mix in the milk and the remaining flour.

Pour this batter over the fruit and mix them together.

Beat the egg whites, with the cream of tartar, until stiff. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites gently into the cake, then fold in the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing it out and taking care not to leave large gaps in the batter.

Bake the cake for about 2 1/2 hours, until done. You will need to cover it with foil after about an hour, when it will be mostly as brown as you would like it. I would start checking it for doneness at the 2 hour mark.

Allow the cake to cool, and remove it from the pan. Wrap it in cheesecloth, and brush it all over with sherry. Wrap it in foil and keep it in a cool, dark spot until wanted. You can take it out and brush it with more sherry whenever you feel so inclined; no-one will complain.

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