Once you step out of your home, you simply can’t deny that christmas is in the air. All the supermarkets, stores and malls are dressed in beautiful red and green. The music and the variety of goods on display only adds to the charm. Having gone to a convent school, we celebrated christmas every year with carols, christmas decorations replete with a tree and of course cake! This year I would be celebrating christmas at home with my toddler, his friends and their mothers. This means that there is a lot of baking in tow for me, the following week.
With so much of christmas everywhere, I planned to kickstart the season with this rich fruit cake. Indeed, I have a weakness for fruit cakes. I simply love how the dried fruits and nuts, spices, flour and sugar magically transform into a delectable piece of cake sure to win hearts and minds of those around.
This cake is rich in flavours and filled with fruit in every bite. I used a combination of dried cranberries, black & golden raisins, currants, dried apricots and dried figs with walnuts and cashews. Since I didnt have citrus peels on hand, I grated the zest of an orange into the fruit mixture. All these fruits together created real magic in my cake. The man of the house with discerning tastes relished the cake and gave his thumbs up which I must say makes me happy each and every time he does it.
I feel blessed to have a very happy and cheerful baby. But like all babies, he is prone to those “cling to your mother” days once in a way and wont relax unless I hold him close to my heart, cuddle him and keep him entertained. As I put him to nap in the afternoon and stepped into my kitchen, rearing to go with all the excitement, feeling happy with the gorgeousness and colour of the fruit and right after I had mixed the dry ingredients into the wet, the alarm bells came calling and my boss was up! My baby had chosen this day to be one of those days when he needed me and would not settle for anything else. This meant that I didnt have time to decorate the cake and had to rush with placing the almonds over the cake and I somehow managed to shove the cake into my oven and rush to him on time. This also meant that I didnt have much time to style and shoot. The travails of having young ones on hand! But one smile from that angelic face that lights up our days, those endless innocent babbles and it all seems worthwhile and I feel like sacrificing thousand such endeavours for the contentment and well being of my child.
This fruit cake is great not just for christmas but for any special occasion. You could ice it with fondant to make it even more special but I prefer to leave it as it is and let the glories of the fruit take over. One word of advice, allow the cake to completely cool before slicing it. This will make the cake firm up and prevent breaking. Infact, it is best left overnight for the cake to firm up and develop flavours before it is sliced up and relished and transports you into “fruit cake heaven”.
Eggless Fruit Cake recipe
You could use your favourite dry fruits here, but this combination ups the flavour quotient to the maximum. This cake, adapted from Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma Das keeps well, so it is one of the best recipes to prepare in advance. Potato starch is a common ingredient found in egg replacers and the potatoes here act as a binding agent and you can't detect its presence in the cake. Replace the butter with vegetable margarine or oil for a vegan version of this cake.
1 tbsp (15 ml) melted butter
280 gm (2 cups) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
500 gm (1 pound) mixed dried fruit* ( I used 400 gm of dried apricots, figs, cranberries, black and golden raisins, currants and 100 gm of walnuts and cashews)
220 gm (1 cup) brown sugar (demerara sugar)
200 gm (1 cup) butter
1 tbsp (15 ml) golden syrup or maple syrup or date syrup
finely grated zest from one orange
250 ml (1 cup) water
1 tsp baking soda or bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp (30 ml) yogurt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp allspice powder
250 gm (1 cup) smoothly mashed potato
blanched and peeled almonds for decoration
Grease the base and sides of a deep 8” (20 cm) round cake tin with the melted butter. Line the base with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda, mix well and sift once to make the mixture uniform.
In a medium sized saucepan, combine the dried fruit, sugar, butter, syrup and water and heat slowly on low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and allow the mixture to come to a boil, reduce the heat and then simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Remove the sauce pan from the heat, mix in the 1 tsp baking soda and allow to cool.
Once the mixture has reached room temperature, stir in the yogurt, vanilla extract, all spice, zest and mashed potato and beat well with a whisk, until the mixture is smooth. Put in the nuts, and carefully fold in the flour, mixing until well combined
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the help of a spatula. Decoratively arrange the almonds over the top of the cake. Cover the cake with aluminium foil and bake at 180 degree centigrade/ 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes clean.
Once the cake is done, allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. When the cake has cooled, place the serving plate over it and turn it upside down. Carefully remove the paper, turn it over again with the help of a plate and serve.
If possible, allow the cake to mature over night or atleast for 4 to 5 hours before slicing it up.
Makes one 8" round cake