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Pete chastised me for feeding some of this cake to Ellen tonight.  As we’re making these for Christmas, he told me I was “telegraphing my punches”.  I suspect he’s forgotten that I was planning to post the recipe here.  Do me a favour – if you get one of these from us this Christmas, act surprised – it will keep my husband happy.

These gorgeous, delicious mini fruit and nut cakes are based on an old Women’s Weekly recipe.  They’re gluten and lactose free, low in added sugar and keep well for up to three months in the fridge.  The original recipe was sized to make two  bar cakes, but the same amount will also make four or five mini loaf tin sized cakes.  We did both, so the photos you’re seeing are of a double batch.

This cake was a regular part of our Christmas baking for years, until the cost of the ingredients became  prohibitive.  Now, with access to very reasonably priced supplies at Harkola, it’s back on the list for Christmas 2009.  If you’re planning to make these en masse as we do, try to source bulk suppliers of fruits and nuts.  The brazil nuts and  glacé fruits can get quite expensive, so it’s definitely worth a trip to your local food wholesaler to stock up on supplies.  And who knows what else you might find there?

Assembling the ingredients and lining the cake tins are the hardest parts of this recipe – the actual cooking process is very simple.  Although finding a spot in the fridge to store 30 odd cakes can be a bit challenging…

Ground Almond Fruit Cake
(recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook)

  • 250g seedless dates
  • 100g mixed peel*
  • 50g glacé apricots, cut into pieces*
  • 90g red glacé cherries*
  • 90g green glacé cherries*
  • 80g raisins
  • 250g brazil nuts
  • 185g walnuts
  • 100g ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large (59g) eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (40ml) honey
  • 1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum

*Note: you could really use any mix of glacé fruits you choose.  If you decide not to use the apricots, increase the mixed peel to 150g (which is how the recipe was originally written).

1. Put the dates in a large mixing bowl, checking carefully for pips as you go (as dates are mechanically harvested and processed, some seeds are occasionally missed).  Give the dates a quick rinse (they can sometimes be a bit dusty).

2. Add all the remaining fruits, brazil nuts and walnuts and stir well.  Add the ground almonds and baking powder and stir to combine.

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3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until thick and creamy, then beat in the honey and vanilla extract.  Pour the eggs into the fruit mix and stir well to combine (remember these photos are of a double batch).  Make sure that every piece of fruit and nut is well coated with the batter.

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4. Preheat the oven to 150C with fan.  Line two bar pans (8cm x 26cm) or five small loaf pans (8cm x 15cm) with parchment paper. Divide the mixture evenly between the pans, making sure to work it well into the corners.

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5.  Bake for about an hour (start checking after 50 minutes), or until the cakes are firm and dark brown.  The original recipe specified 1½ to 2 hours, but we’ve never needed that long in our fan forced oven (although it does run hot).  Brush the rum over the hot cakes, then wrap  tightly in foil and allow them to cool in their pans overnight.

When completely cool, wrap the cakes tightly in foil and store in the fridge until required.   The cakes cut well when cold; allow slices to return to room temperature before serving.

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PS. Please have a look at our new Christmas page for more gift ideas!

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