Cook: Pineapple and Almond Fruit Cake; Gluten Free, from 1904
I love how Christmas Fruit Cakes look. Tall, dense, moist and richly coloured. I was strangely disappointed as a girl when a wedding cake turned out to be fruit cake underneath all its delicate, white frosting. Things have changed for me now. I love a piece of fruit cake. I love the soft crunch of the slow cooked nuts and the tang of the fruit and the peel, contrasting with the buttery melt in the mouth crumb.
Here’s a gluten free version of one of Florence White’s collection. Of the “Dundee” variety she says. It was customary to serve this kind of yule cake (with a cherry brandy, says Mrs Robinson of Yorkshire), to visitors dropping in between Christmas and New Year.
First, I have to share a delightfully evocative quote from Florence White. If this has the same effect on you, as it did me, you’ll be dropping everything, to pass a couple of well-spent hours conjuring up a plum cake that will make your home sing with the aroma of baking cinnamon and fruit…and bring to your home a sense of joyful nostalgia.
On “Country and Schoolroom Teas” – a timely quote as Australia reclaims the Ashes!
“These words conjure up pictures of the great halls of country houses with logs blazing and sizzling on the hearth; a table large enough to allow a man who hates afternoon tea to sit and spread scones with butter and home-made jam; a singing kettle; piping hot toast; and home-made cakes, dogs lying warming themselves in blissful happiness, never even troubling to stir as well-known footsteps are heard outside, and members of the house party and other friends come in, one after the other, exhilarated but tired after a splendid run with some well-known pack, or a day with the guns.
Or in summer time long trestle tables literally weighed down with cups and saucers and good things for tea out of doors for the consolation or encouragement of rival cricket teams; or between sets of tennis.”
Pineapple and Almond Fruit Cake, Gluten Free
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 ½ hours
- Dried Apricots, soaked overnight 120g (soaked weight)
- Retain the soaking liquid for use further down in the recipe (about ½ cup? or feel free to substitute with Brandy!)
- Currants 250g
- Raisins 160g
- Dried pineapple 150g
- Prunes, stoned and quartered 250g
- 2 tbsp mandarin peeled (dried or 3 tbsp fresh)
- Oat bran 30g
- Rice flour 100g
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- Butter, 250g
- ⅓ cup treacle or molasses (sorry for not providing measure in grams!)
- ⅓ cup rapadura sugar (apology as above! probably 80g?)
- 6 eggs
- Whole almonds roasted 125g
- Pumpkin seeds roasted 100g
- Almonds flaked, roasted 200g (set aside 50g to sprinkle on top of cake)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- Almond meal 120g
- Preheat your oven to 180°
- Prepare your tin. Take a heavy-based cake tin about 8″ diameter, grease with butter, then greased greaseproof paper, bottom and sides. Wrap two layers of brown paper or cardboard around the outside of the cake. Place two layers of the same paper or card inside a baking tray and place the cake-tin on top. These layers of paper will prevent the cake from burning.
- Cut the apricots and prunes into quarters.
- Place all the fruit in a large bowl.
- Combine the oat bran , rice flour, nutmeg and cinnamon mix onto the fruit. This will prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake while it cooks.
- Roast the almonds, almond flakes and pumpkin seeds together if they are not yet toasted. To do this, place them all on a baking tray and place in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Check them often so they do not burn. If you have time, toast for a longer time on a lower heat (say 20 mins at 150°). Set them aside to cool completely.
- Cream the butter
- Add the sweeteners (molasses and sugar) and beat until pale and well combined.
- Add 3 eggs, one by one, mixing well between, so that the mixture does not curdle.
- Add the next 3 eggs, one by one, very slowly, beating well between each and adding a spoonful of almond meal with each egg to help keep the mix homogenous.
- Add the juice in which the apricots were soaked (probably about ½ cup of liquid), again mixing very well. If you prefer Brandy, you can add 3-4 tbsp brandy instead.
- Using a wooden spoon now, mix in the rest of the almond meal, then all the fruit and the cooled toasted nuts. (If the nuts are hot, they will melt the butter and ruin the cake)
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Push the mix up the sides of the tin, so that the middle of the cake is lower than the sides.
- Cover in the remaining flaked almonds, evenly on top. Place a paper plate over the top of the cake, so that the almonds do not burn.
- Put the cake in the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours. I turned the oven down to 160° after 45 minutes.
- When cooked, leave to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove onto tea towel on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
This cake, once cool, should be wrapped in foil and set aside for 3 weeks before eating, for maximum flavour!
We are giving chunky slices, wrapped in a layer of foil and fabric, to the children’s teachers and teaching assistants for Christmas. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to hear a comment from one of them below?
Only time will tell. Tick tock. Another year approacheth.
Merry Christmas in case I don’t see you again til after! I hope you share some of these recipes on your festin table.
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Do pass onto your friends – especially those with food intolerances, who might be looking to extend their food options and pretend they can eat anything!