The cake was a massive success at my parent's 25th Wedding Anniversary party, I had lots of of "wow you made that, I thought it was bought" comments which really made all the hard work worth it.
The cake itself was a fruit cake, I have made a fruit cake the last couple of years at Christmas and although last years one was really tasty it wasn't a traditional fruit cake in my eyes. Eventually I decided to try Nigella's traditional recipe from her 'Nigella Christmas' book, however I changed some of the bits around to suit peoples taste so here is my version.
I used a 25cm round cake tin, so was a huge cake! (There was about half left at the end of the party).
650g Dried fruit of your choice (I used cranberries, apricots, and a bag of mix dried fruit)
600ml Sherry (bourbon or brandy)
275g Dark brown sugar
3 tsp Lemon zest (grated)
6 Large eggs
3 tbsp Black treacle (or molasses)
1 1/2 tsp Almond essence
450g Plain flour
225g Ground almonds
3/4 tsp Ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp Ground ginger
1. Place all the dried fruit in a saucepan, add the alcohol and bring to the boil. Take off the heat, covering once cooled and let it steep over night.
2. The next day preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2 and prepare your tin. *
3. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the lemon zest.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with each addition, then beat in the black treacle and almond extract.
5. Sift the dry ingredients together, and mix the soaked fruit alternatively with the dry ingredients, into the creamed mixture.
6. Put the cake mix into the prepared tin, and bake. Reduce to 140C/gas mark 1 after an hour. Cooking time 3 3/4- 4 1/4 hours or until a skewer or cake tester comes out cleanish.
7. Once the cake is cooked, brush with a couple of tablespoons of your chosen alcohol again, wrap immediately in it's tin using a double thickness of foil-this traps the heat and form steam which helps keep the cake soft on top.
8. When completely cool remove the cake from the tin re-wrap in foil, storing in an airtight container for at least 3 weeks to improve the flavour. If you are making the cake to keep for longer wrap it in a double layer of greaseproof paper and then foil. Add some more alcohol every few weeks to feed the cake keeping it moist.
* To prepare for a fruit cake you will need greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Line the bottom of the tin with 2 layers of the paper, then cut two long strips to double line the sides of the tin, making sure that the paper comes about 10cm above the top of the tin. To make these strips sit better in the tin cut small slits at 2cm intervals along the bottom to make a frill to help hold it in place. Make sure that you use butter to help stick the paper to the tin and also to each layer. When making a large fruit cake it is also best to double wrap the tin with brown paper also coming up about 10cm higher than the top of the tin.