Winter means that even a modestly early morning in the kitchen is spent facing darkened windows, although this last Saturday the freezing cold snap (might have to revise the use of the term snap as that implies brevity) meant that there was at least the sparkle of ice and snow in the pitch black of my garden at 5am. I was glad to wake early as I had a morning free from builders, a recipe and a brand new spatula (gifted to me on my birthday) to try out.
I really enjoy Dan Lepard’s ‘How to Bake’ series in the Saturday Guardian, it’s one of the first pages I turn to frequently one to cut out and add to the stack slipped into various notebooks and recipe books. I always hope for a cake rather than a bread or pudding recipe and the previous week I was rewarded with a festive fruit cake recipe that was immediately pinned up in the kitchen as ‘one to make soon’ rather than tucked away.
I made my Christmas cakes, in mini loaf form, some time ago to the same Mary Berry recipe as last year and have been tending to them ever since, feeding with Brandy and trying to resist picking at their fruit and nut studded tops,
So I really don’t need another fruit cake in my kitchen – what a ridiculous statement!
I originally baked this as a gift to take to a family gathering that I’m going to this weekend, and once cooled I double wrapped it ready to be stored for the week. But I just couldn’t resist. The thought of the figs, prunes and walnuts contained in the caramel cake was just a little too much. Plus, I had to cut into it to get a photo so I could properly blog about it didn’t I? Then, of course, the tasting is all important to ensure the feedback I leave here is accurate. I’m not sure at what point photographing and tasting became munching, but my god, this is a tasty cake. So I had to bake two more on Sunday morning. Cake number one has been distributed and devoured by a couple of people, cakes two and three are wrapped and ready to be transported and cakes four and five are in the planning! This will definitely be my stand by fruit cake from now on.
This has no booze in it (although you could feed afterwards) and no pre-soaking of the fruit so there’s not a huge amount of preparation. In fact with the figs being taken care of with kitchen shears rather than chopping (handy tip that) the prep was quick, especially as the cherries are left whole (although I did give them a rinse) and the walnuts remain in their halves. What you end up with is a cake rich with delicious fruit with wonderful texture from the nuts and whole cherries – I’d even go as far as to say that the addition of alcohol might detract from the soft, warm richness from the caramel.
Dan adds that the cake is ready to ice and decorate ‘as you please’ but I think the only things needed alongside a slice of this is a mug of tea, a slice of sharp cheddar and perhaps an open fire and to enjoy it by. Should you happen to have all, some, or none of the above to hand, the recipe on the Guardian’s site is definitely one to bookmark