“Oh, these people’s minds work in strange ways, Petunia, they’re not like you and me,” said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt Petunia had just brought him.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
I haven’t really made fruit cakes until now. And not because I was worried my husband would use them to knock nails in!
Because I don’t like dried fruits. Yup. I am the person who orders the sundaes which don’t have chopped nuts on top , the one who meticulously picks out all the raisins from my kheer and the one who wrinkles her nose at dates. I have never really enjoyed a slice of christmas or fruit cake. One of the things people find strange about me!
But I realised with all the people writing in for the last few months , that I couldn’t keep away from the fruitcake this Christmas! Hey , change is good !
I also realised another disturbing piece of truth . Making a true christmas fruit cake required a level of commitment and patience that was probably not for me. For best results , fruits need to be soaked months in advance. Months. I am the kind of person who decides to make a chicken sandwich, opens the fridge , sees no chicken , sees egg , decides to make egg sandwich , searches kitchen , finds no bread , makes an omelette. I am also the kind of person who simply HAS to make a layer cake at 12.15 in the night. See the problem here? If there is anything stored or jarred in my kitchen for months , you can bet that it is an un-intentionally forgotten jar of something and is probably growing new kinds of mold as we speak.
So when I read about this fast version of fruitcake – the boiled christmas cake or boiled fruitcake , I was so glad. Instead of soaking fruits in liquor or juice for long durations, the dry fruits are given a quick plumping up by boiling with water , sugar and butter. The eggs and flour mixed right in , so you don’t need to bother with creaming or beating. It bakes up in a fraction of the time that the traditional plum cake does.
I thought perfect ! Lets make a fruitcake for lazy and last minute people like me . Lets rephrase that. Lets make a fruitcake for impulsive bakers who are short on time (like me ?) . I didn’t have to look further than Joy of Baking‘s recipe , Stephanie is really a Godsend for all bakers (lazy or otherwise!). I followed her recipe almost as is , just used a mix of dried prunes , cranberries , golden raisins and black raisins for the boiling and then chucked in some candied fruit. For spices , I used only cinnamon and that too not a whole lot as we don’t like our cakes very spiced. I also baked it in a square pan as I thought squares would be easier to dole out at work and it also bakes up a lot quicker. Choose fruits , spices and pan of your choice !
Everything about this cake seems strange. The name for instance – “boiled” cake? Doesn’t exactly sound appetising huh? The manner of making it is weird and the batter looks funny enough that you say a little prayer before popping it into the oven. This couldn’t possibly become a cake. But it does. And delicious cake at that.
And when a self-professed dry-fruit-hater calls a fruitcake delicious , how could you not want to try it!
- 250 grams or about 2 cups dried fruits (raisins , prunes, plums , berries etc)
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup candied fruit or fruit peel (tutti fruity)
- 200 grams or 1 packed cup brown sugar
- 56 grams or 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 240 ml or 1 cup water
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 185 grams or 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F. Butter or grease an 8 inch square tin . Dust well with flour and line bottom with parchment .
- Whisk together the flour, salt , baking soda and cinnamon . Keep aside.
- Whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Keep aside.
- In a saucepan , measure out the dried fruit , sugar , butter and water. On high heat , bring to boil.
- Once the butter melts and the mixture is boiling , simmer on low heat for 10 minutes , stirring occasionally.
- Take off heat and let cool down for few minutes.
- Add in the candied fruit if using.
- Add the whisked eggs and whisk until incorporated.
- Add the flour and mix until you have a thick flow batter.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 28 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes and unmould to cool completely on wire rack.
- This cake is best eaten the next day and can be stored wrapped well for 10 days or longer.
- If you wish , you can feed (brush) the cake with rum or orange juice .
- Make sure your fruit are chopped small or they will sink to the bottom (like some of my plums have!).
- Also make sure they are deseeded !
- You can cool the boiled mixture completely but if you'd rather not wait that long , cool for few minutes. Keep whisking as you add eggs so they don't get cooked . Add the flour immediately after the eggs are incorporated.
- You can increase the spices to upto 3-4 tsp and use cinnamon , powdered ginger , powdered clove, mixed spice etc.
First things first .. this cake is NOT as rich or dense as a traditional fruit cake. And I realised the pictures of my fruitcake squares are far from festive . That said , its an easier version for a beginner to try and a much quicker one for anyone else. ! Its moist and has a great texture and flavour. It is definitely tasty and fruity enough for any fruitcake connoisseur.
For the non- believers , I will probably be trying my hands at a more traditional christmas cake soon – richer and boozier. Let me go soak my fruits now so I don’t change my mind. You better go boil yours and get back to me.. Happy baking all!