Saturday, 28 February 2015

February's bake of the month


Phew!!! Just made it in time for this month’s bake of the month.

I always feel sorry for fruit cakes, as with the exception of Christmas and Easter, they’re pretty much ignored for the rest of the time. Not today.

This cake is slightly different to the more traditional fruit cake. Whilst there’s alcohol in it, it doesn’t use the conventional rum, brandy etc. It uses beer (porter/stout to be exact) which gives it a lovely flavour.

The method used to make the cake is also different. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar as you would normally, most of the ingredients are put in a pan and left to simmer. This allows the fruit to absorb the fabulous flavours of the orange juice, mixed spice and beer.

The end result is a beautifully light, moist cake which I’m sure even fruit cake haters would enjoy....

Fruit porter cake (adapted from a Goodfood recipe)

  • 6oz/175g butter
  • 1lb/450g mixed dried fruit
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 6oz/175g light muscovado sugar
  • 7fl oz/200ml porter/stout (Guinness, Caffrey's or whatever you like)
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 10oz/300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice

  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar

  • Pre-heat oven to 150º c/Gas Mk 2. Fan oven 130ºc.
  • Line a deep 8 inch/20cm round cake tin with baking parchment or cake liner. 

  • Put butter, dried fruit, orange zest and juice, sugar and porter/stout in a large pan. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until the butter and sugar have dissolved, then simmer for 15 minutes.

  • All the mix to cool for 10 minutes then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will foam up but don’t panic as that's supposed to happen.

  • Stir the eggs into the pan then sift in the flour and spice, mixing well.

  • Pour the mixture into the tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds and Demerara sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. To test if it’s cooked insert a skewer (I prefer to use a piece of spaghetti for this but you could use a clean knitting needle or cocktail stick) and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
  • Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

The addition of the flaked almonds and Demerara sugar gives the cake a wonderful crunchy topping. You can simply leave them out if you prefer.

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