The Art of Making Fruit Cake

Recently, dear Aunty Poh Sim supervised a few of us in making Christmas fruit cake. Her measurements followed the Imperial standards and one needs to convert them to the metric system.

Cherries are to be prepared ahead of the baking session - it is ideal to soak them with 3 to 4 tablespoonfuls of sherry at least over night. Cherries are to be sliced, before mixing with seedless dates, brown raisins, mixed orange peel and almond thins. (images above and below). Use 1.5 pounds of brown raisins, half a pound of seedless dates, a quarter pound of mixed orange peel, another quarter pound of cherries and a half pound of almond thins.

The oven has to be preheated to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a nine inch round or square baking container - brush it with butter and then line the surface with two layers of grease proof paper. Also brush the butter between the paper layers and on to its outside surface.

Cream the ten ounces of butter and five ounces of brown sugar together, until they are soft and pale in colour (below). Add in contents of 5 well beaten eggs and ensure consistency and thoroughness of the resulting mixture. Then add in 4 tablespoons of golden syrup.

Stir in first only half the amount of fruit mixtures prepared and sift in likewise half the dry flour ingredients. Then separately add the other half of fruit and dry ingredients. Add another four tabelspoonfuls of sherry to the mixture. The dry flour mixtures consist of seven ounces of plain version and another three ounces of raising flour. (image below)

Two teaspoons of all spice powder and half a teaspoon of nutmeg powder are then added to enhance the flavour of the resulting cake mixture (image above).

Before placing in the oven, ensure smoothening the cake mixture surface to slope towards the centre - this shall better ensure the resulting baked cake is level, once the mixture has risen when baked. First place the cake mixture tin on the lower half of the oven, to help ensure that it is not over browned in the baking process. Bake on this lower section of the oven for 120 to 150 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitor the emerging fruit cake when in the oven, especially during the second stage baking at the lower temperatures.

Reduce the oven heat to 275 degrees Fahrenheit for the second stage of baking, for another hour. For this second phase, cover the cake with grease proof paper folded over a piece of dampened paper.

Always use a cake skewer to test whether the resulting cake is ready to be taken out of the oven.

After taking the cake out of the oven, do rest the cake for at least five minutes in the oven before placing it on a wire tray. The result is not ready to be consumed at this stage - it should be soaked with two tablespoons of sherry every two or three days for a fortnight, before being served.

From an idea and flour, to the piece that we bite into on Christmas Day, the process requires love, concentration and patience. A wonderful reflection of care we have for family and friends.


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