Monday, December 8, 2014

TBB - English Dried Fruit Cake

This is my inaugural recipe for a new bake along called Rose's Alpha Bakers. We will be baking our way through The Baking Bible by the queen of baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I had the honor and pleasure to be one of the recipe testers for the book. Rose was kind enough to mention us by name in the acknowledgement section of her book, which is totally awesome!!!

Unfortunately I missed last week's official inaugural recipe which was the Kouign Amann. You can read all about the other bakers' adventures in Marie's round-up post. But I won't let that spoil the fun for this week's English Dried Fruit Cake. I don't recall ever eating fruit cake. It's usually too dense for my liking or doused with some sort of alcohol. And since not a lot of people speak kindly of said cake, I didn't miss eating it or bother baking it.

And then Rose developed this fruit cake recipe. I was immediately intrigued by the unusual batter preparation technique which has you cook some of the ingredients on the stove.

Does that look like wet sand?

One bonus: no mixer required. Everything is done by hand. It's also easy and quick to make. I was heating up leftovers for dinner while whipping up the batter for this cake. One more thing... Even with all my substitutions and not using any of the recommended cake pans, it turned out awesome!

English Dried Fruit cake baked in my new vintage Bundt pan :o)

I must be a cookbook author's worst nightmare with my substitutions up the ying/yang. Since this cake was going to accompany me to work on Monday morning, I decided to leave out the pecans due to nut allergies. That's when the idea of doubling the dried fruit popped into my head. I was slightly concerned that this would increase the amount of liquid in the cake (due to soaking the fruit) and considered adding more flour, but then decided against it. I figured that a longer baking time would do the trick (and it did).

As for the dried fruit, I used a mixture of pre-chopped dates, dried cherries, craisins, and golden raisins. The apple I peeled and the chopped at the very last minute which allowed me to add it straight into the sugar/butter/egg mixture (I skipped the lemon juice).

I recently purchased a really nice vintage Bundt pan by Hillware. As I was deciding which pan to use (9" x 13" or 8" round pans), I decided to bake in my new Bundt pan because it has such a festive look to it. With the potential of having too much liquid in my batter due to the doubling of the dried fruit, I figured that a Bundt pan could only help since it has a hole in the middle which means less chance of the cake over-baking in the outer edges while trying to get the middle baked.

The rum was optional, which was great. I know that if Rose says it's optional, I can omit it without any negative consequences.

Ready for the oven!
After a 50 minute stay in the oven, the cake came out a deep golden brown. It smelled delicious and so did my kitchen. I cooled in the garage for about an hour (one advantage of winter in MN). I sliced a couple pieces for hubby and myself before wrapping the cake tightly and putting it in my domed cake carrier.

Deep golden brown and delicious!

An inside view. I love the different colors of the fruit. Bon appetit!

Final thoughts/tips:
  • Who knew fruit cake could taste so good!!!
  • Hubby enjoyed the cake a lot. He liked the variety of the fruits used. One comment he had was that the cake was a bit too sweet. He gave it an 8.5 out of 10 rating.
  • My first slice was soooo good. This was after the cake had cooled down but the edges of the cake was still a little crunchy. The interior was beautifully studded with the fruit. The cake was firm but not overly dense and it was wonderfully moist. I too agree with hubby that it's a tad too sweet. That may be because of the extra fruit I added which adds additional sweetness to the cake.Either way, this one goes on the "bake again" list!
  • The cake went over REALLY well at work. I received lots of compliments. Everyone complimented on how moist it was. Nobody said it was too sweet (I asked a couple people). One person in particular said it best: "I don’t normally like fruit cake because they are too dry and have nuts in them. Your fruit cake was delicious!".
  • One comment I had is with regards to adding the dried fruits to the flour mixture. Some of the flour remained attached to the fruit and every once in a while you'd see a minuscule white piece attached to a piece of fruit, like in the picture below. I've seen it in other bakers' pictures too. I'm wondering if it's better to add the fruit to the sugar/butter/egg mixture next time. I'm splitting hairs her, I know, but that's the geek and perfectionist in me talking :o)

You see those white particles underneath the craisin?


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  2. I love your bundt pan too!! Maybe it was sweeter cos you didn't use rum. I think the rum tones down the sweetness of the cake. :)

  3. I love the bundt pan! Great idea!

  4. Hi Hanaa - Love, love, love the vintage bundt shape. Best looking fruit cake so far! I didn't use rum and didn't find the cake too sweet, but then again, I cut mine into 1 1/2-inch squares. Hope you'll stop by and visit my post.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  5. The cherries and craisins give it a lovely colour.

    In regards to the sweetness, did you use the brown sugar? Your 'sand' mixture looks very light coloured. Maybe this would make a difference?

  6. ב''ה

    Your cake looks great. I also had issue with the white particles around the fruit.

  7. Love love the bundt pan. I so wanted to do that, but my pan is hidden in a moving box somewhere. :( Your cake turned out beautiful! With regards to the flour around the fruit, could it be that it needed to be stirred more? Not sure if that would be the solution...

  8. Your vintage bundt pan makes a beautiful cake! You have great looking color with the fruit, something for me to think about next time

  9. Look at all these rebels among us! (but I do love that baking pan - sadly I hit my limit and my husband will give me the total evil eye, if a new pan "appeared" in the mix). I'm surprise you said it was sweet - but I also do think it was because of the extra fruit.. welcome back!

  10. Hello, Hanaa: Love your cake in the beautiful bundt pan! I'm so glad to be baking along with you. I hope you visit me at where I am giving away one of Rose's favorite kitchen gadgets this week! Best wishes from Michele

  11. Hi Hanaa, I believe dried fruit is usually added to the flour mixture because the flour coating helps keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom. If a batter is thick enough, that wouldn't be a problem, but usually it is. The cake look wonderful! :)


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