Archive for September, 2007

Apricot Brandy Cake – tutorial for stage one

September 2, 2007

As the end of summer (not that we really had one here in the UK) approaches I realise, as always, that I’ve left it a little late to make my Apricot Brandy Cake that I like to have at Christmas (and New Year, and Easter, and all the days in between). Before you protest, let me reassure you that it is not too early to make this. It needs to mature. I’ve really been prompted to make the next batch because I am coming to the end of the one I made last October. I’ve been feeding it with more brandy from time to time – just whenever I remember to, and I think it is just about perfect now. Of course, it may improve further if I leave it longer!
Making an Apricot Brandy Cake - stage one

I’ve adapted the recipe from one by Mary Berry – she made it on the BBC television programme Saturday Kitchen a couple of years back. The basic difference is that she uses 90ml brandy and soaks the fruit over night while I pour lots of brandy in – I don’t measure it – and leave it to soak for several days or a week. I think I may have left it for two weeks once as I was too busy to make the cake. It was fine.

The other difference is, if you were to make one by her version and one by mine, her version would have been eaten and long forgotten by the time I consider mine ready to eat. I store it in an airtight container and keep ‘feeding’ it brandy over the months. It just gets better.

To start one cake you need the following:
#01 Assemble ingredients for stage one
300g/9oz dried apricots, chopped
225g/8oz currant
255g/8oz sultanas
225g/8oz raisins
brandy 90ml/3½fl oz for Mary Berry’s version or lots for mine.

The photo shows enough dried fruit for two cakes – everyone wants to take some home after they’ve tried it.

You will also need a bowl, scales (unless the packets hold exactly the amount you need) and cling film.

Mix all the fruit together in the bowl and pour brandy over it. Smells like Christmas, doesn’t it!

How much brandy? Well, the fruit shouldn’t be sloshing about in a sea of it, but it shouldn’t be fighting to actually get wet either. If you are using 90ml, give it a stir. If you are just tipping the bottle, move the bottle as you pour to ensure it all gets wet. You can give it a stir if you’re not sure.
#02a The soft apricot mix

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a safe place overnight (for MBs version) or for several days or a week so that the fruit plumps up with all that lovely booze. Don’t worry that it looks heavy on the alcohol, remember this is going to be cooked and the alcohol will preserve it in the months to come.

Next weekend I’ll be doing stage two and turning the bowl of boozy fruit into a cake. For one cake you will need:
225g/8oz butter (try to get unsalted), at room temperature
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
225g/8oz plain flour
4 large eggs
350g/12oz glacé cherries, halved, rinsed and dried
2 oranges, grated zest only

You will also need a 20cm/8in-deep round cake tin (a springform one is best but not essential) and some greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

I’ll post the tutorial here next week. If you need the rest of the recipe before then you can find it on Nibblous.

If you try this, please do let me know how you got on, and how you liked it.