Monday, 27 February 2012

Cranberry and Apricot Fruit Cake

Recipe Number One Hundred & Sixty Three:  Page 63.

This challenge has made me realise just how closed off I used to be to new flavours and ideas; there's so much I'd never ventured to try. Cranberries feature heavily in this recipe and I am ashamed to admit that a cranberry has never before passed my lips! I've nothing against this apparently sour berry; I'd just never thought to try them before. Mary does mention that cherries can be used instead of the cranberries in this recipe. As tempting as that sounded to my cherry loving heart, I decided to stick to the recipe and embrace the cranberries. After all, it's always good to try something new.

By the time I got around to my cake making it was early evening, so I was glad to be eased in gently with my first task. Chopping the pineapple was nice and straightforward as it was from a can; I only needed to make the slices a little smaller. I was delighted that the juice wouldn't be needed in the recipe as this meant I could drink it. Pineapple juice is very tasty! With fruity goodness coursing through my veins I felt ready to tackle the enormous pile of dried apricots. As I snipped at the apricots with a pair of scissors, I couldn't help feeling that the pile wasn't getting any smaller. My will to live was ebbing!!! Some ten minutes later I triumphantly snipped the very last apricot and shook out my aching hand. Alas my euphoria was brief. My next job was to chop 100g of blanched almonds – this equalled another ten uncomfortable minutes! Funny how all this chopping and snipping doesn't look much in the book; it only takes up one small paragraph!!

Finally I could place the drained pineapple, apricots and blanched almonds into a large mixing bowl. The bowl was half full but I'd only just begun! Next to be included were the dried cranberries, not one but two packets! It is probably a good thing I'd never used them before as they cost a small fortune. I was roughly 20g shy of the total required amount but I refused to pay for a third packet!! After adding the perhaps gold plated cranberries, I tipped in some ground almonds and a huge quantity of sultanas. The fruit and nuts were now right to the top of the bowl. Thank goodness the last ingredient to be added was the zest from two lemons; it wouldn't take up much room!

In another large bowl I was to weigh in some flour, sugar and butter in equal quantities. A grand total of five eggs were then to be added. I get through so many eggs I've had to order them from the milkman every week. If we had a bigger garden it might be worth housing some chickens! At this point it dawned on me that the recipe had a lot of similarities to the Victorian Christmas cake on page 136, so I turned to it to compare notes. The only difference in this recipe was cranberries instead of cherries. I couldn't help but feel a little cheated! Pushing my disappointment to one side, I retrieved my electric whisk and mixed everything together until smooth, which took a little longer than expected. Next came the interesting part of adding the fruity mixture to the cake mixture. Mary says to fold in the fruit - easier said than done! The combined ingredients threatened to spill over the sides of the bowl at the slightest touch. Using my wooden spoon, the best I could do was to push the fruit down into the cake mix with a stabbing action!

My flabby little biceps were put to work when it was time to heave the densely fruited mixture into the lined cake tin. It was hard work! After levelling the top of the cake, I was to place circles of blanched almonds over the top. Again this mirrored the Victorian Christmas cake. I glanced at the clock after heaving the full tin into the oven. With a two hour cooking time it would hopefully be ready at 9.30pm. I passed the time by watching a film but, as I was so worried about the top of the cake burning, it had to be paused several times so I could check. I'm not sure Neil was best pleased but I think he's used to it by now!!! Thankfully I had no need to place any foil over the top of the cake. After two hours I lifted out the tin and turned off the oven. After rechecking the recipe I very quickly turned it back on. It turned out it should cook for two and a half hours not just two – whoops! Another half an hour later and I really could turn the oven off. The cake appeared to be cooked through when tested and the top was a lovely golden brown. After half an hour cooling in the tin it was time to tip the gigantic cake out of the constraints of its tin. I was pleased as it did look pretty. I left it to cool overnight and headed up to the comfort of my bed. I think I was asleep in less than ten seconds!

The next day it was time to grab a knife and cut into the temptingly fruity cake. Once sliced it revealed just how light in colour it was. I am used to baking much darker fruit cakes. This particular cake really was packed to the brim with fruit; it looked really colourful, especially with the red of the cranberries. I took a large bite and found myself chewing for some time – the apricots were still rather chewy. My first thought was that it was mostly fruit and the cake was purely the scaffolding. The flavours did all seem to come through, especially the lemon. I found it just a touch too sweet, which is surprising as I have such a sweet tooth! Isaac enjoyed a few helpings of this cake. I have to say it was quite entertaining watching him eat it. His little jaw was put to work with the chewy apricots. I don't think I've known him be quiet for so long!
You'll get your five a day with this cake!


  1. that look so delicious, I starting to eat healthy now munching on dried fruits but I will surely bake this cake.

  2. Thank you Julieta. This cake is packed full of fruit! Must make up your five a day!!