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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Floaty light Christmas cake

Much as I love traditional Christmas cake, if you're having a Christmas afternoon tea it might be too heavy coming on top of mince pies, cranberry scones and turkey finger sandwiches, so this is an alternative which is just as seasonal. I do usually make it with whiskey soaked sultanas, but I admit on this occasion I didn't put them in as I knew one of my guests didn't like dried fruit and as the cupcakes I was making were also fruity ones, I left them out this time. However, I love them, so if you want to do the cake justice, then take 100 grams of big sultanas and soak them over night in a good slug of whiskey and then fold them into the mix before you add the egg whites. The rest of the method it all the same.

 You will need:
6 oz/170 grams each of unsalted butter, self raising flour and caster sugar.
6 eggs, separated.
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 orange and 1 lime.
100 grams whiskey soaked sultanas.

Line two 20cm spring form tins.
Heat your oven to 160 degrees
sift your flour and separate your eggs.
 Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they pale and creamy looking and meanwhile, put the butter into a small pan and heat slowly until melted and take off the heat.
 The yolks are at what is called the ribbon stage - read to add the zest of the fruit, followed by the juice.
 The zest of life.....
 The sift the flour over the yolk mix and fold in, that means moving the spoon ( always use a metal one) as if you were folding the edge of the mix into the center.
 When the flour is folded in, add the melted butter in a steady stream and fold in also - it will look a bit weird and oily until the butter is folded in, but keep going and you'll get there!
 See, nice and smooth again! Now whisk up your egg whites until they are super light and fluffy, you should be able to tip the bowl upside over your head and they won't fall out - so until you're confident you won't get an egg white hair mask, keep whisking! If you've got a good hand mixer like the one Bosch do, that's where the extra motor power will save you from an eggy fate!
If you're adding the fruit, fold that in before you add the whites.
 There - like this! Then you fold one spoon full into your yolk and flour and butter mixture, this is to 'slacken' it off and make it easier to get the rest of the white folded in.

 Now fold in the rest of the egg white, again it will look a bit odd but keep going just until all the egg white lumps have gone, using a metal spoon again and a cutting and folding action, you're trying to mix the egg white in but not squash out too much air.
 It should look like this, very pale and fluffy still. Divide the mix between the two tins and put into your oven to bake - this cake needs to be baked at once to ensure the air stays in the mix so don't hang around.
 The cake takes around 40 mins to bake, but check it at 30 mins and if the top looks too brown, put some foil over the top to save it from over browning. To test insert a clean skewer into the center, if it comes out clean your cake is ready.
Set it to cool and then spoon a generous table spoon of whiskey over the cooling cake, more if you like!
 To frost I made my usual butter cream - 250 grams unsalted butter, 500 grams icing sugar - beat the butter for 5 mins until very fluffy, add half the sugar and 100 ml of double cream, beat again then add the rest of the sugar, beat AGAIN and then flavour with whiskey and lemon to taste.
How you decorate is up to you - I filled the center and then coloured the rest of the icing a whiskey colour with coco powder, and then placed some lace over the surface and sprinkled it with icing sugar; though I did find that the icing sugar melted into the icing, this would have worked better if I'd left the top of the cake unfrosted, or done it just before serving.
 But it looked rather nice, and tasted even better!

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