My Alternative Xmas Cake
I've wanted to make this cake for years - ever since I bought Annie Bell's book 'Gorgeous Cakes' - but every Christmas something has happened to stop me making it. This year nothing interfered, not even the thought that I'd got for too much food already, and a cake wasn't really even necessary!
It was a delicious cake, but not perfect! One fault was mine, but if I was going to bake it again, I would make some changes to produce something even more delicious. My fault was being too enthusiastic with my new Kenwood Chef mixer, and believing the recipe book, which said that beating the eggs into the creamed sugar and butter at maximum speed would lessen the likelihood of curdling! I now know that you still need to go the traditional route of adding a little flour with each egg! The bad curdling resulted in a slightly stodgy texture, rather than the sponge-like appearance I had been expecting.
The second problem was not enough orange flavour. I think the cake needs at least the zest of an orange in the cake batter, and I would probably replace the rum with orange juice, as the rum flavour wasn't very noticeable. I used sultanas and dried cranberries in the cake, and these could be plumped up first in orange juice, if you wanted to keep the rum.
Apart from those problems, it was a really good cake. Having a crisp shortbread layer, and the marzipan only at the bottom of the cake, and pieces of nuts only at the top, made it interesting to eat, as there was a variety of textures and flavours depending on where you took a bite. Definitely a good alternative to a rich fruit cake - even FB, who avoids most dried fruit, liked it!
A few recipe details, to make a cake in a deep 20cm tin with a loose bottom - the shortbread layer was made from 90g butter, 40g golden caster sugar, 75g plain flour and 50g ground almonds. This was pressed into the cake tin and chilled. A circle made from 200g marzipan, spread with 75g coarse-cut marmalade was placed on top of the shortbread before the cake batter was added. The cake batter was made from 225g golden caster sugar and 225g unsalted butter, creamed together. 4 whole eggs and one egg yolk were added next, followed by 90mls rum. 225g SR flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder was folded in, then 75g each of sultanas and dried cranberries (raisins in the original recipe) was stirred in gently. After this was transferred to the cake tin and spread evenly, 20g each of flaked almonds and pine nuts were scattered on top. The cake took around 70 minutes to bake at 170C, and was cooled in the tin.
December's letter is X, and X-mas is considered an acceptable choice of word to use as part of the name of what we produce. Hence I am entering this as my alternative X-mas cake! AlphaBakes is jointly hosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes, and Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker. The rules can be found here, and Ros is the host this month. There will be a festive round up at the end of the month, although I wonder if there will be any entries that found an alternative to X-mas!