Summer cake’s tropical notes
This interesting Christmas cake has rapidly become one of Alison’s most requested recipes!
It is lighter in colour than most traditional Christmas cakes, and very pretty - the golden cake is studded with light coloured crystallised tropical fruits, that is perfect for celebrating our summer Christmas, but is apparently also proving very popular as a birthday cake, and is especially popular for golden wedding anniversary celebrations.
The crystallised fruits can be a little bit harder to find than conventional dried fruit, but are now available in most supermarkets (or other stores) that stock a range of bulk foods. CHRISTMAS CAKE For a 20cm square or 23cm round or square (2.25kg) cake. About 1 cup each cubed crystallised mango, papaya, pineapple and melon 1 cup sultanas 1 cup dried cranberries or extra sultanas 1 cup chardonnay (or other white wine) or 1/2 cup orange juice plus 1/2 cup water 1/2-1 cup glace cherries, optional 250g butter 1 cup sugar 5 large eggs 1 cup ground almonds 1 tsp vanilla essence 1/2 tsp almond essence, optional grated rind of 1 orange and lemon 1 1/2 cups high grade (bread) flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Buy a total of about 1kg of 3 or 4 of the crystallised fruits. Cut these into 5mm cubes with scissors or a sharp knife. (You need 3-4 cups of cubed crystallised fruit in total.)
Add the sultanas and cranberries to the crystallised fruit. Simmer the fruit and wine in a covered frypan for five minutes or until nearly all liquid is absorbed, then leave to stand in the covered pan overnight or for 8 hours to soak up remaining liquid. ( Fruit will have a beautiful jewel- like appearance!) Stir in the quartered cherries, if using.
Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (140C fanbake), with the rack just below the middle.
Prepare a 20cm square, or 23cm round or square pan, lining sides and base with baking paper or a Teflon liner.
In a food processor or large bowl, beat the soft (but not melted) butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the ground almonds after each one. Beat in the essences, remaining ground almonds and the finely grated citrus rinds, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Combine the cake mixture and the cold, prepared fruit using your hand and spread mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
Cakes in 23cm pans are 5-6cm high and should bake at 150C (140C fanbake) for 45 minutes then at 130C (120C fanbake) for 11/2-2 hours. Cakes in 20cm pans are about 6-7cm high and should bake at 150C (140C fanbake) for 45 minutes then at 130C (120C fanbake) for 2-21/2 hours. Cover top with paper if it browns too fast. Cakes are cooked when a skewer pushed deeply in the centre comes out clean.
When cooled, wrap loosely with baking paper, then refrigerate. For best flavour, leave a week before eating. Serve as is, or ice with almond icing and royal or plastic icing.
Seasonal treat: Alison Holst’s Christmas Cake recipe is a popular one.