S, my daughter insisted that a Christmas cake had to be planned well in advance. Fruits steeped in alcohol at least a month in advance. We realised nothing can be planned when there is a baby at home. Then Priya posted this recipe for a last-minute cake. We put the little one in a pram, headed for the nearest supermarket, picked up the ingredients, stayed up most part of the night and had the cake ready on Christmas eve.
There are three stages - preparing the caramel, preparing the fruits, and preparing the batter
Sugar - 1/2 cup and water 1/4 cup
Mixed fruits - 11/4 cup ( the packet contained raisins,sultanas,figs, mixed peel) - and I added dates, and orange zest. Chop the fruits
Nuts - 1 cup - cashew, almond, walnut - chopped coarsely
Orange juice - 3 tbsp
Rum - 2 tbsp ( though Priya says you can omit the orange juice and add up to 1/4 cup of rum)
Unsalted butter - 230 gms
Granulated sugar - 1 cup
Eggs - 3 large
Vanilla - 1 tsp ( or rum extract)
All Purpose Flour - 1 1/4 cup
Mixed spices - 1/2 tsp each - nutmeg, ginger powder, cinnamon powder
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Making the caramel - Take a pan, add the 1/2 cup sugar and allow it to melt on medium heat. Be very careful. It will turn golden brown. Keep swirling/mixing and allow another 30 secs till it turns slightly darker. Remove from heat. Add the 1/4 cup water. The caramel will harden. On slow heat allow the caramel to melt. It will be a dark solution like that of Coke. Remove from heat. Cool and keep. Do not allow the sugar to burn as the cake may turn bitter. Keep a close eye and regular mixing is essential )
Preparing the fruit - in a pan, add the orange juice/ rum. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the chopped mixed fruit and orange zest. Cook 3 minutes. Add the chopped nuts. Keep a minute longer. Remove and cool.
Sift the flour, salt, spice, baking powder
Pre-heat oven 180 C
Line a 8" tin - bottom and sides
In a bowl , beat the butter and gradually add the sugar, continue to beat till a soft mixture is obtained
Add eggs - one at a time - continuously beating the mixture
And the vanilla extract
Now fold in flour and then the caramel alternately- till the whole amount is used up
Add dry fruits and nuts. Mix well.
Pour into the prepared cake tin.
Place in oven. Bake for about 50 minutes. Check cake regularly after 40-45 minutes with a skewer through the centre. Make sure it comes out clean before removing it from the oven.