Christmas fruit soak
(make the soak 5 weeks in advance)
55g caster sugar
90g sultanas (golden raisins)
80g pitted prunes, chopped
80g fresh pitted dates chopped
55g mixed peels
135g chopped dried fig
100g plain flour
½ tsp mixed spice
15g ground almonds
110g unsalted butter
100g brown sugar (I used 70g)
2 tbs honey
2 tbs treacle (I used golden syrup)
1 tbs marmalade
3 eggs, lightly beaten
150ml brandy for feeding
1.) To make fruit soak, put the sugar in a saucepan with the water and bring to boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour the brandy and cooled sugar syrup into an airtight container and add fruit, mixing well to coat. Cover and keep at room temperature for about 5 weeks.
2.) Preheat the over to 190 C. Greased 2 x 12.5cm round cake tins and line the base and side of each tin with baking paper.
3.) Sift the flour, mixed spice and ground almonds together in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, honey, golden syrup and marmalade until pale. Add the eggs, a little at a time, ensuring each amount is completely incorporated before adding more (take care the mixture doesn’t curdle at this stage). With the motor still running, add the flour and stop as soon as it is combined. Using a gloved hand fold in 900g of the fruit soak until combine.
4.) Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake tines, tapping heavily on the bench to settle. Place the cake tins on an oven tray and place in the oven. Immediately lower the temperature to 160C and bake for about 40 mins. Turn the trays and continue to cook for another 20mins until the cake is cook. (It may take up to 1 hour and 20mins to bake). Cover loosely with baking paper if the top starts to brown. Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tins to cool.
5.) Make about 20-30 holes in each cake using a skewer and pushing it about ¾ of the way through the cake. Cut two large sheets of foil and two large sheets of baking paper. Place each piece of foil on the bench and lay a sheet of baking paper over each foil. Place the cake on the baking paper and draw the paper and foil around the cake scrunching it together on top to form a container that will hold any alcohol.
6.) To feed the cakes, open up the top of the foil wrapping and brush over about 1 tsp of brandy. Repeat this every 3-4 days for 8-10 weeks or until the alcohol seems not to be soaking in anymore. Once the cakes are fed, wrap them well and store them in the container in a dark cool place until ready to serve.
Recipe adapted from : Bourke Street Bakery, the ultimate baking companion. pg. 338.