Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge for March is to randomly select a recipe from your collection of cuttings, memories and clippings. As I was reading the post I had in front of me a thick pile of papers; recipes that I had cut out of magazines or printed off from websites and were in need of sorting out. So I gave them a quick shuffle and found myself looking at a recipe for something called “afternoon tea cake”. It’s by Rachel Allen and you can see the original here.
I don’t know why saved this recipe, as I’m not a huge fan of fruit cakes. I think it must have been the title, conjuring up visions of teacups, doyleys and pretty tray cloths. Or maybe because the second item on the list of ingredients was a good sized measure of alchohol. Any cake that has booze in it is definitely worth a second look and as I was reading it my image of lace and teapots took on a different hue and I could imagine little old ladies getting slightly tipsy over their knitting and crochet !!
Anyway, it required one 20cm round tin. Not long ago I came across a bargain in Lakeland, this “fancy cake tin” which had a pattern in the base not dissimilar to those old fashioned jelly or blancmange moulds. I don’t think I would have bought it at full price but at £2.99 I thought it might come in handy one day. It makes a cake with a raised pattern on the top, which would look nice for afternoon tea, so it was time to put it to the test.
The tin would have to have a really good non-stick coating if it was going to be any use, as the cake would be served upside down after it was baked. I decided to spray it with cake release spray, just to be sure I was in with a chance of not finding the pattern that should be on the top of cake still stuck to the inside of the tin when I turned it out.
It also occurred to me that as cakes rise (or so we hope), there would be a dome on the bottom of the cake when it was turned upside down to reveal the “fancy” top. So when I put the mixture in the tin I made a slight depression in the hope that this might compensate for too much rise. I was also prepared to have to slice the bottom off so that the cake would sit flat and not rock about on the plate.
As it happened, it turned out beautifully and came out of the tin clean as a whistle. And I didn’t have to slice off the bottom. I’m not sure I could taste the booze but it was lovely and moist with a crisp outside, and the amount of fruit was just right for afternoon tea. In fact you could rename it “morning coffee cake” or even “any time you like cake” as it was very moreish and would be nice at any hour of the day. It kept well in a tin for a couple of days – longer than that I can’t say as I took it to work and it soon disappeared !! Definitely a cake I will be making again.
125g of mixed dried fruit
75 ml of whisky, brandy or cointreau (I used whisky in mine)
200g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 tblsp sunflower oil
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Put the fruit and alcohol in a small saucepan, bring to the boil gently, simmer for a few seconds then remove from the heat and put on one side to cool
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4. Thoroughly grease a 20cm cake tin.
In a large bowl or food mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat again, followed by the oil. Add the sifted flour, baking powder, salt and fruit and combine gently but thoroughly.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out and level the top, leaving a slight dent in the centre.
Bake for 50 minutes until cooked. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Cuts into 8-10 slices.