15 April 2012

Ceci n'est pas un fruitcake

This year I hemmed and hawed over what I wanted to make for Easter Dessert. Pies, cakes, ice creams--they all flitted through my mind as non-descript actors flit through the minds of fickle teenaged girls: nothing truly grabbed my attention for more than a few days.

TVO currently airs Edwardian Farm--a 12-episode programme chronicling two experimental archaeologists and one historian living the lives of Edwardian farmers at Morwellham Quay--where one episode included a Simnel Cake--a light fruitcake usually made for the middle Sunday of Lent. Tradition has it that the cake is covered with a round of marzipan and 11 marzipan marbles (one for each of the 12 apostles, less one for Judas).

This idea stuck. Well...some of this idea stuck.

Even though I am a founding member and lifelong president of Fruitcake Liberation Society (a rag tag group of people who like fruitcake and don't understand why people cast aspersions at fruit-ladened and alcohol-drenched cakes (well, apart from the storebought ones...those don't count), I just didn't feel like making a traditional fruitcake (even if it is a light one).

But a cake that combined marzipan and dried fruit...is not a fruit cake.

It is a fruited cake.

I quickly dismissed the idea of a plain fruited cake and decided to go for an almond cake. The nut quotient was increased by good bit by including a marzipan layer in the cake and a dribble of almond extract. I selected my favourite fruits that play well with the dominant nuttiness: apricots, cranberries and blueberries.

Unsurprisingly, this is an almond-lover's cake (so if you don't like almonds, you may want to pass this one by). It's sweet and a bit sticky and a great pick-me-up with a cup of afternoon tea.

Fruited Almond Cake
Yield 1 x 20cm (8") cake

100g (185ml/.75c) dried apricots (14-15 pieces)
100g (165ml/0.66c) dried cranberries
100g (165ml/0.66c) dried blueberries
225g (415ml/1.66c) cake flour
1.25tsp (6.25ml) baking powder
110g (125ml/0.5c) room temperature butter
3Tbsp (45ml) flavourless oil
150g (375ml/1.5c) sugar
0.25tsp (1.25ml) salt
2 eggs
0.5tsp (2.5ml) almond extract
85g (210ml/a generous 0.75c) ground almonds
165ml (0.66c) milk
225g (0.5lb) marzipan
icing sugar (for dusting)

Tip all the dried fruit into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let the fruit plump for at least 20 minutes. Drain, chop the apricots into cranberry-sized pieces. Cover with more hot water until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 170C (350F). Butter and flour a tall-sided 20cm (8") round cake pan. Set aside

Sift together the cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.

Roll the marizpan into a 20cm/8" circle. Set that aside too.

Cream together the butter, oil, sugar and salt for about three or four minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the extract. Mix in the almond flour. Drain the now plumped fruit and fold into the batter.

Add the flour and milk into the batter alternate addition, in the usual way (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry), scraping down the bowl's sides after each dry addition.

Pour half the batter into the prepared cake tin. Lay the marizpan round on top. Pour in the remaining batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. The cake will be golden in colour and begin to pull away from the sides. Remove from oven and let cool completely before unmoulding.

Dust with icing sugar before serving, if you wish.

  • Use whatever combination of dried fruits you wish--sultanas, currants, raisins, cherries--keeping the total weight (or volume) to what's in the recipe

I'm a quill for hire!

1 comment:

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Ton dessert semble très bon.