Why is it Jane’s? Well I can’t answer that, but it was the fruit cake that my mum has been asking me to bake for a while. So I finally gave in and decided to give it a try.
I can’t help but love Mary Berry’s instructions – they generally consist of mixing everything together in no particular order and bunging it all in the oven! Great for everyone else but unfortunately not for a perfectionist like me.
So instead of throwing everything in, I started by mixing the butter and the muscovado sugar, then added the eggs and buttermilk and finally the wholemeal flour. I did question what the wholemeal flour would add (or detract) to the recipe, but I have full faith in Mary Berry and will do (almost) anything she says – or writes.
Finally, I stirred in the currents and sultanas and began to pour the batter into my cake dish. This was when I realised that my 23cm-diameter cake tin was definitely too short for all the batter I had. Cue the very speedy preparation of another, smaller, cake tin – and hey presto we have a mama cake and a baby cake.
I managed to fit the cakes into the oven and put the timer on for … 3hours?!?!?! Of course this is always the last thing I read and I managed to pick the cake with longest cooking time ever. * Sigh *
I took one last quick look at the recipe as I sat on the sofa with a cup of tea when I realised that I had to sprinkle the almonds on top of the cake before I put it in the oven. Oops.
I ran back to the kitchen (I’m not joking, I actually skidded around two corners!), ripped open the packet of flaked almonds, and held my breath while I opened the oven door, quickly sprinkled almonds on the batter, and slammed it shut again. I strolled back into the living room, sat down looking thoroughly pleased with myself, and found two parents with their mouths hanging open. I told them I forgot to sprinkle the almonds, which, apparently, wasn’t enough explanation for my dramatics. I then explained that cakes sink if you open the oven door too much and even with this perfectly rational argument, I got nothing. So I gave up and settled down with my tea and my book.
About 3 hours and a good few chapters later, I checked on the cakes to make sure they were dark enough, springy to the touch, and that they passed the skewer test. Thankfully the cakes passed all three and I got the bigger one out for the taste test with the family.
Now I’m not the biggest fan of fruit cakes – I just don’t understand the concept of dried fruit, in general, and specifically in cake. Despite this, the cake was actually OK – definitely not my favourite – but the muscovado sugar added a really nice flavour and the wholemeal flour gives a nice texture. The parents, who happen love fruit cakes, devoured it so I guess that’s a good sign. I did plan to ask them to describe it to me but they went straight to bed claiming exhaustion for having to wait so long for my baked goods.