Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tiny Fruit Cakes

Recipe Number Two Hundred & Eleven: Page 145.

I love the idea of small individual cakes. They'd surely make an ideal gift for loved ones. However, I was disappointed to discover that the recipe makes just three cakes. It seemed a lot of effort for such a small outcome! I rigidly stick to Mary's recipes to be certain that the final result is a true representation. On this particular occasion it was tempting to double up the recipe and make a more worthwhile quantity of cakes, but I reined myself in. If it was a success I could always make alterations next time.

The first unexpected task was to buy three small cans of baked beans! Mary informs us that the cans make ideal cake tins. On the way back from the park Isaac and I popped to the shop. I was worried that the small shop might not stock the small cans. I received a few funny glances when I spotted some on the shelf and let out a squeal of delight! Once home, the baked beans were tipped into a bowl and shoved in the fridge. Beans on toast anyone? Neil very kindly sorted the tins so that they would be ready to use the following day. He was worried that I might cut myself on sharp edges, so he painstakingly smoothed them off. He knows how clumsy I am!

The night before making and baking the cake I had to prepare the dried fruit and leave it to soak in a little brandy. Considering the small scale of this recipe, I realised that the quantities would be fairly sparse but I was surprised when I weighed the delicious glacĂ© cherries. I required just five in total! It hardly seemed worth opening a new tub of cherries for such a pitiful amount, so I consoled myself by polishing off another five or six. I made a mental note to brush my teeth extra thoroughly before bed! I needed just a little more of the raisins, sultanas and currants. Once added to the bowl they made things appear a little more substantial. I was delighted only to need a couple of dried apricots – I hate snipping them with scissors as it can take ages. This time it must have taken less than a minute! Lastly I tipped in a tiny quantity of candied peel and gave the fruity mixture a brief stir. I only needed a paltry two teaspoonfuls of brandy to soak the fruit. It hardly seemed enough to soak a few raisins let alone a whole bowlful of dried fruit! Now that the fruit was sorted it was time to tuck it up for the night, then climb the stairs and tuck myself in.

The following day it was raining yet again. I'm pretty sure my feet are becoming webbed! We stayed inside in the dry and made a mess of the house instead. We had plenty of fun pretending cardboard boxes were drums and building leaning towers of Lego! However, by late morning I was running out of ideas to keep a very active toddler amused. This meant it was cake making time! Isaac loves to watch me bake; especially now that he's wise to it usually leading to a treat!

We trotted into the kitchen. Isaac sat on the floor playing with a packet of long forgotten crisps (it was soon a bag of crumbs), while I weighed the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. First of all I measured in a tiny quantity of ground almonds before the blanched almonds took their turn. Again, chopping almonds is not a favourite pastime of mine. I was therefore thrilled only to have a few to deal with. I now came to the lemon. It seemed wasteful only to grate in a quarter of the zest. I'd have to remember to use the rest up, otherwise it would end up going mouldy in the fridge. It wouldn't be the first time! Isaac helped me to dig out the plain flour from the depths of the cupboard. A fair amount was lost onto the floor in the process. This kept Isaac occupied for some time – a fine layer was soon spread over almost the entire floor. Just the tiniest amount of mixed spice was added and then it was time to sweeten things up with the dark muscovado sugar. I don't know if my hormones are to blame, but I couldn't get enough of the dark toffee smell. I could have sniffed it all day! I'd managed to remember to leave the butter out, so it was suitably soft when I tipped it into the bowl. By now Isaac was kicking his lightweight football around the kitchen. Before reaching for the black treacle we had a quick game of footie. For some reason Isaac found my kicking technique to be hilarious! Before the game became too competitive I grabbed a teaspoon to measure the treacle. I couldn't believe I only required two teaspoonfuls.

I have to say that I was really beginning to enjoy making these small cakes. It was so nice just to add a little of this and a little of that. Another bonus was having copious space in my mixing bowl – so nice not to have it overflowing!

Next it was time to add in the tipsy fruit. To be honest I could barely smell the brandy and there was certainly no excess liquid as Mary suggests there might be! After a gentle stir it was time to place the mixture into the fully lined baked bean tins! The mixture divided perfectly between the three. For some reason I was nervous about placing the tins into the oven. I'm not sure what I thought might happen! Now the cakes just needed to cook for around an hour. This was enough time to stuff Isaac full of his favourite meal (pie, mash and veg – a typical man already). There was then more Lego time before bed. The cakes smelt glorious as they cooked. They smelled very festive and, due to the chill in the air, I could almost believe it was Christmas!

Before I knew it the cooking time was up. After inspection the cakes seemed to be cooked through, so I left them in the tins to cool before drizzling over a tiny sprinkle of brandy. I wasn't looking forward to attempting to remove the cakes from the tins. I could picture myself resorting to a saw! Thankfully each little cake exited the confines of its tin without complaint. Hooray! They looked pretty enough plain but, as Mary gives instructions for covering with fondant, I will have a go at decorating them, eeek! I will give them the suggested week to mature and then I can let you know how they taste.
Apologies for greaseproof paper but meant to stay wrapped up for a week (to keep moist)!

After a week it was time to cover the little cakes with a layer of marzipan and fondant. I am no cake decorator so I approched the task with a heavy heart. It was a rushed job and as the weather was warm it was sticky work!

I couldn't wait to try a taste of fruit cake and I was thrilled with the result. The cakes were beautifully moist and simply delicious!! I couldn't believe they had cooked so well in baked bean cans! I know I'll be making these again and again.

Sorry there is no pic of cut cake. They were all eaten by the time I remembered!!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of small cakes. They'd surely make an ideal gift for loved ones:)
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