Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Fruit Cake

Recipe No: 1
Fruit cakes are available in many places only during the holiday season around Christmas. But in Kerala, fruit cakes are available not only throughout the year in most of the bakeries but also a good percent of Christian wedding feasts starts with a slice covered in wax paper placed on top of a small glass of wine. For a long time I was not a fan of the wine part but fruit cakes was always on the top of my favorites. But somewhere along the way I started to like that pairing of brandy soaked rich fruit cake with sweet wine made from the finest black grapes. But there is a whole lot of difference between both wine and fruit cake that we get in Kerala from what is available over here in US. So this is my attempt to recreate some of that taste that I grew up with … Hopefully this pairing will become the first course of many more to come in this new beginning just like it does in a wedding feast…


  • Butter…....................3/4 cup
  • Vegetable Oil…….....1/4 cup (Very unusual but this will make the cake really moist.)
  • Extra large eggs.......6 (Separate into white and yolks)
  • All purpose flour…..2 ¼ cups + ¼ cup to dust the fruits
  • Baking powder…......1/2 Tablespoon
  • Baking soda…...........1 teaspoon
  • Salt.............................1/4 teaspoon
  • Sugar….......................1 ½ cups
  • Vanilla Extract….......1 ½ teaspoon
Spices
  • Cardamom powder…1 ½ teaspoon
  • Cloves powder…........1/4 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder….3/4 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg powder…......1/2 teaspoon
  • Dry ginger powder.....1/2 teaspoon (If you are using freshly made spices then don’t use this much)
  • Whole Caraway seeds …1/2 teaspoon (Also known as Cake Geera)
Fruits and nuts
  • Brandy soaked fruits…..3/4 cups
(I use chopped sun dried fruits mixed together with raisins as this absorbs more brandy than fruit cake mixes that are available in the market. Not to mention cost effectiveness. This can be done way in advance. I use the left over brandy that I use to make cakes for Christmas, to preserve fruits that can be used for the next year. If you don’t have so much time do it for at least a week. If that is also not possible then heat Brandy a bit and then soak the fruits. Be careful if you are opting this. Don’t let the brandy catch fire.)
  • Chopped dates….1/2 cup (Don’t leave this out as it adds to the moisture of the cake)
  • Chopped nuts…..1/2 cup (I used equal quantities of Walnuts and Cashew nuts. Toast them on the stove top. For this put the nuts to a pan on medium flame turning constantly till a nice toasted aroma comes)
  • Orange and Lemon peel chopped together…2 Tablespoons
  • Crystallized Ginger chopped…1/2 teaspoon (Optional)
For Caramel syrup
  • Sugar…...........1 cup
  • Water…..........1/2 cup
Extra
  • Brandy….........4-5 tablespoons
    Method of Preparation
    To make Caramel Syrup

    1. Put the sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat over medium heat and let it become dark brown.
    2. Add boiled water. Be very careful when you do this as it tends to splatter a lot. Splattering will be more if you use cold water. In case if the caramel solidifies, boil it till it completely dissolves. This can be stored in a container on your counter top for a long time. This should be completely cooled before using.
    To make the Cake
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C
    2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spice powders one or two times and then add in the caraway seeds and keep aside.
    3. Whip the Egg Whites to a standing consistency and keep aside. (Egg whites should be whipped thoroughly so that if the container is turned over the whites should not fall down)
    4. Mix all the ingredients under fruits and nuts category.
    5. Mix together Butter, Oil and Sugar to a creamy consistency.
    6. Add Egg Yolks one at a time.
    7. Beat in Vanilla extract and the caramel syrup.
    8. When all these are completely mixed, add the flour mixture, a little at a time and gently fold in. ( Don’t over mix once you add the flour or the cake will be tough.)
    9. To the dried fruits and nuts add ¼ cup flour and mix. Then add this to the cake batter. (Mixing flour to the fruits and nuts is important as this prevents them from settling to the bottom of the cake)
    10. Add the Egg Whites to this and mix as gently as possible.
    11. Divide it between two or three pans depending on the size of the pan. Don’t fill the pan more than 3/4th.
    12. Bake it till a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Baking time for fruit cakes are longer than other cakes. It will take anywhere from 45min. to 1 hr. But do keep on an eye from 45 min. for an 8inch round cake.
    13. Now for the real secret….As soon as the cake comes out of the oven drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of brandy on the warm cake… Take it out of the pan after 10 min. and let it cool. Once cooled completely cover it in aluminum foil and let it rest in a cool dark place for at least 10 to 15 days.
    Notes:
    • For a good cake the Butter and Egg should be at room temperature.
    • Beat the Cake batter really well before adding the Flour. Once the Flour is added, (stop all the mixers at this stage if you are using one) fold with a wooden spatula till it is combined. If beaten too much, the Flour will start developing Gluten which will make the Cake dry and hard.
    • Oil is very rare in a Fruit Cake but, believe me, its addition makes the Cake very moist.
    • Don’t open the oven often while the Cake is baking. Sudden lowering of the temperature may cause the Cake to fall in the middle. So if you want to see how it is doing, switch on the light and look through the glass panel (if it is possible). If not, check the Cake only towards the end.
    • Over baking will make the Cake dry. So stop baking once it is done.
    • The longer the Cake sits the better it is. So when you make, even if you cannot resist the temptation, cover and keep at least one of them and taste it after 15 days …you will surely notice the difference. At about 5 to 6 days this cake will appear very dry but the brandy will do its magic as it sits, to turn it into a very moist, rich and delicious cake around 15 days. 




      Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
      serve it to your family with love...




       

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      4 comments:

      litmus said...

      checi,i tried tis.i have some queries:-
      can i keep the cake outside 20 days?
      i feel the cake is not moist..y?(overbaking).waiting 4 ur reply

      Asha said...

      Yes it will stay good outside if you use the Brandy...as alcohol itself is an excellent preservative It will stay good at room temperature for months actually, as there is no water or milk in this Cake. . The Cake will he a bit dry first so cover it and keep it for at least 10 days and you will be amazed to see how moist it gets as it sits... But next time when you make, take the Cake out of the Oven as soon as it is cooked through. Don't over bake!!!

      Asha said...

      The Cake that is shown in the picture is a 15 day old Cake... Click on the picture to enlarge it and see how moist it is...That's Brandy(that is poured on the Cake while it is warm...) doing its magic with time!!!!!! which is the actual secret...

      Anupa Raju said...

      Hi asha..ur recipe seems grt ..stil i have a doubt regrdng the soaking of fruits...which all fruits u soaked?wat abt dates nd nuts?do we soak it or nt?

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