Tag Archives: fruit cake

A holiday followed by an Apricot Cranberry Slice

Standard

I’m back after another long absence from my blog. My time away has been a mixture of tedium – taxes, taxes and more taxes – and fun – a fabulous holiday to New Zealand’s South Island.

People rave about New Zealand’s beauty.  It has a reputation I thought might be hard to live up to. But New Zealand actually is as stunningly beautiful as people say it is.  The land is raw and untamed and magnificent.

 Queenstown

And it was the whole place.  Everywhere we traveled (and we covered a good deal of the island) was just lovely.

 Milford Sound

After Australia’s hot dry flat landscape, those steep snow capped hills are wondrous.

 Wanaka

And all those lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls are glorious!

 sheep

And – it’s true – there really are sheep EVERYWHERE!

It was hard work coming home and getting back into routine. But it was nice to get back into my own kitchen, after a few weeks of cooking in a motor home!

After weeks without homemade sweet treats, the kids were keen for me to get straight back into baking.  This slice has a wonderfully soft moist cake-like texture and a lovely fruity flavour.

Apricot Cranberry Slice

  • ½ c chopped dried apricots
  • ½ c chopped dried cranberries
  • ½ c hot black tea
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • ½ c raw caster sugar
  • 1 lg egg
  • 110 g flour
  • 1 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 180C. Line loaf pan with baking paper.

Soak apricots and cranberries in hot tea until fruit softens and absorbs tea.

In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add egg and beat in well. Add flour and beat in again.

Stir in fruit mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan before gently removing.

 Apricot Cranberry Slice

Advertisements

Merry Christmas 2012

Standard

New South Wales, far south coast, Christmas Day began with the shrill cries of black cockatoos, heralding a cloudy/rainy day.   Then the morning chorus of bird calls began. It is gentle at that hour – I know the hour – 5.10am – because my son was awake, and using every ounce of willpower he possessed to, a) stay awake, and b) not wake anyone else until an ‘acceptable” time.  Eventually, it must have seemed like many hours to him but it was in fact only 5.40am, I heard him wake up his sister in the loudest whisper – “Merry Christmas We Are Allowed To OpenThe  Presents In Our Stockings Be Quiet Every One Else Is Sleeping!!”.

MerryXmas2012The day was indeed cool overcast and drizzly.  Perfect for my planned traditional turkey meal.  With only a small group to feed, the Christmas meal was so easy.  Not the mountains of food I remember from my childhood in the States where the turkey would cover a small table all by itself – but then we did have many more mouths to feed.

The real effort for the Christmas meal was in the cake. Fruit cakes and puddings are the Australian tradition and Wal loves a fruit cake. They are costly and time consuming to make it but worth the effort – rich and flavoursome and completely decadent.

Xmas_cake2012

Jen’s Fruitcake Recipe

Fruit mince

Fruit mince can be made a few weeks ahead. I like some tartness in my fruit mince, so I use fewer raisons and sultanas than in most recipes, and substitute other dried fruits. Fill the measuring cups generously!

  • 750 g dried dates, chopped
  • 1 c sultanas
  • 1 1/2 c currents
  • 1 3/4 c dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried apples, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried pears, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried blueberries
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries, halved
  • 1 c decent quality brandy (I use 1/2 c standard brandy, and 1/2 c cherry brandy)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer to air tight containers and set aside to marinate until required.

xmas_fruitmince2012

Fruit cake recipe

  • 9 c prepared fruit mince
  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 1 c raw sugar
  • 1/2 c raspberry jam
  • 4 lg eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 3/4 c plain flour
  • 1 t mixed spice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 3-4 T brandy or rum, extra

Double line a 23cm (9 in.) spring form cake tin with baking paper, and preheat oven to 160C.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat in.  Add vanilla.

Mix dried ingredients together. Stir the fruit and combined dry ingredients in alternating batches into the mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin and tap on the counter a couple of times to remove any air pockets.  Smooth over top with wet fingers or wet spoon.

Bake for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Remove from oven and immediately pour brandy over the cake, concentrating on the edges, and any cracks in the surface. Leave cake in the tin, cover the top with more baking paper and wrap in a large towel, and leave to cool.  You can leave it this way for a number of days.

Icing

  • 1 1/2 c sifted pure icing sugar
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • milk

In a small bowl, beat egg white until soft peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl beat sugar, butter and 2 T milk.  Add egg white and beat until well mixed and smooth.  Add milk, half a teaspoon at a time until you have the desired texture. Ice and decorate the cake as desired.

For extra extravagence, serve with cream whipped with honey, cinnamon and vanilla!  Think hard about the gym as you eat – maybe that mental exercise will help!

Xmas_cakecut2012

And to finish off our Australian Christmas we had a very rare and special visitor in the garden – an echidna!  Merry Christmas!

Xmas-echidna