My husband is a convert!!! Yes, both him and me were not fond of fruit cake, especially the ones which are too sweet and oozing with artificial vanilla (or whatever..) extracts…. I mean, there are some fruit cakes which leave quite awkward aftertaste – too sweet, bitter, essence-y (if that is a word :p)- all at the same time…or one that gives you feeling of drinking cough syrups…you get what I mean??
When I told Sachin (that’s my husband) that I am preparing things for making a fruit cake his first reaction was don’t spend your efforts coz you know I don’t like these fruit cakes…I assured him that he will like the one I am making; and boy he loved it…he enjoyed the cake to the last crumb! That’s why I call him a convert…and why only him, I am a convert too 🙂
So, what did I do? Well, first and foremost I reduced the amount of sugar significantly, secondly I did not use the ground spices…third, I did not use candied fruit or candied peels. Perhaps, candied fruit when baked turns quite bitter..lastly, I also wanted this to be white cake, so I did not use cocoa powder either. Not using the ground spices (because those definitely add colour) and not using cocoa powder were the best decisions I made, I think!
I read through many recipes and haven’t much seen the use of star anise; however I just love the mild, sweet taste of this spice and I decided to add it to my cake, I liked the way it rendered its taste into the cake. But, feel free to not use it or use your traditional spices…I know Christmas is already knocking on the door, as this cake does not require a lot of time I am sure some of you can definitely make this cake a part of your Christmas celebrations! Let me know in the comments section if you do bake this, I would love to hear if you liked the recipe.. 🙂
I made this cake almost 2 weeks back…but I was too busy with office work and other things to post it here…neither did I get enough time to take the pictures…I could take only a few – I know they are not very good, but just to give you a glimpse of what the cake looked like.
Here is a snap of all goodness that went in this cake –
1. Cloves, cinnamon and star anise in simmering port wine; 2. Drained port wine with all the goodness of whole spices; 3. Finely chopped orange peel soaking in port wine; 4. port wine + plus orange peels, dry fruits and fruits all set to mingle 🙂
So, here is a long list of ingedients~
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter – at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs – at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup port wine (or any liquor of your choice)
- Whole spices: 7-8 cloves, 1-2 inch cinnamon stick, 2 star anise and a pinch of grated nutmeg
- Fruits & dry fruits: dried cranberries, fresh figs, fresh pineapple and raising contributing to 1 cup measure (figs and pineapples cut into bite size cubes); walnuts, almonds, pistachios contributing to 1 cup measure (coarsely chopped)
- Peel of one medium orange cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- zest and juice of one lemon
Here are the step wise instructions~
- One day (anytime between 12-24 hours) before you plan to bake the cake, prepare fruits, dry fruits, orange peel and lemon zest.
- In a non-reactive pot or saucepan, pour 1/2 cup port wine and simmer for about 2 minutes. Now add the whole spices and bring to a rolling boil; reduce the heat and let simmer for a couple of minutes (the kitchen just smells heavenly… :))
- Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Let the spices sit in the port wine for for an hour or two. This way, port wine will be infused with all the goodness of the spices. Now, add finely chopped orange peel. Let this mixture sit for 2 hours.
- Add chopped fruits and dry fruits to the above mixture. Give a quick and gentle mix. Keep this mixture aside – you can refrigerate the mixture covered.
- The next day, bring the fruits-dry fruits and port wine mixture to room temperature if you had refrigerated it. Otherwise, proceed to next step.
- Prepare an 8″ round baking tin by buttering the bottom and sides thoroughly. Now, line with parchment paper, try to keep height of the parchment paper for sides about an inch above the rim of the tin.
- Beat room temperature butter with an electric mixer till pale, add in the sugar and beat on low to medium speed till the butter and sugar is mixed well and the mixture becomes light and fluffy – about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs and continue beating till the mixture is fluffy.
- Add 1 tablespoon flour (from the 2 cups flour) to the port wine mixture and toss gently so that the fruits are coated evenly. This will ensure the the fruits won’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
- Add 1/2 cup orange juice, lemon zest and lemon juice to the butter mixture and beat on very low speed to just about incorporate the juices.
- Add all the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula very gently not loosing any air from the batter. Note that this batter is quite thick and it will be quite an arms-workout mixing this batter.
- Lastly, add the port wine mixture including any remaining liquid and mix in gently.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Level with back of the spoon or spatula.
- Bake in preheated oven at 170 degrees C for about an hour and a half. Keep a close watch around 1 hour and 10 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can bake for additional 5 minutes if the crust is not browned too much by putting the cake on the top most rack.
- Cool the completely in the tin for 20 minutes, then cool on wire rack for another half an hour or till the cake can be touched with your fingers.
- We enjoyed it as such as well as with a glass of milk. You can dust the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
Here is how the cake looked like –
I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!