SATURDAY COOKING: TROPICAL CHRISTMAS CAKE

A couple of weeks ago, I did a Xmas in July dinner with my friends and family. It was an Asian-theme dinner and as easy it is to find savoury dishes to cook, it was a bit more tricky to get a nice dessert. I’ve had this recipe for ages, from the 2010 Delicious magazine. This TROPICAL CHRISTMAS CAKE was perfect to finish the meal. And it kept improving with time.
The recipe seems quite long, but the cake was easy to make, cooked in the indicated time, and had us going for a week after it was made. On the road, picnic in Donnybrook with cake and crème Anglaise…What else do you need?
It will serve 10-12.

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125ml (1/2 cup) Grand Marnier
250g dried pineapple, coarsely chopped
100g dried apricots, coarsely chopped
100g glacé cherries, halved
60g dried mango, coarsely chopped
50g glacé ginger, coarsely chopped
melted butter, to grease
200g butter
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs
200g (1/2 cup) lemon curd
2 tsp vanilla essence
190g (1 ¼ cups) plain flour, sifted
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp mixed spice
250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
1 egg white
230g (1 ½ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbs fresh lemon juice
silver cachous, to decorate
icing sugar, to dust
pineapple flowers
1 small fresh pineapple, peeled, thinly sliced
1 tbs caster sugar

Method:

        1. Combine the Grand Marnier, pineapple, apricot, cherry, mango and ginger in a large bowl. Set aside for 1 hour to soak.
        2. Meanwhile, to make the pineapple flowers, preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Place pineapple on the trays. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly crisp. Set aside for 2 minutes to cool slightly. Remove from trays. Pinch the core to shape each slice into a flower. Set aside on trays to cool completely.
        3. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C. Brush a 7.5cm-deep, 22cm (base measurement) round cake pan with melted butter. Line with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat butter in a small bowl until soft. Add caster sugar. Beat until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon curd and vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.
        4. Mix the combined flour and mixed spice in a bowl. Use a large metal spoon to fold the flour mixture and coconut milk, in alternating batches, into the egg mixture. Fold in the fruit mixture. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Tap the pan on the bench to settle the mixture. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 2 h 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover the surface with a clean tea towel. Set aside in pan on a wire rack to cool overnight.
        5. Whisk the egg white in a large bowl until frothy. Whisk in icing sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and glossy. Whisk in the lemon juice until mixture reaches pouring consistency. Place the cake on a serving plate. Pour over the icing, allowing it to drip down the side. Set aside until set. Arrange the pineapple flowers on top. Top with cachous and dust with icing sugar.
        6. Eat!

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– I used 100g dried pawpaw instead of the glacé cherries, to make it truly tropical.
– I used homemade lemon curd.
– Make sure to use pure icing sugar as opposed to icing mixture.
– I used a 23cm square pan.
– I baked the pineapple slices for almost an hour to get them crispy. They will get brown so keep an eye on it towards the end of the baking time.
– I used a big bowl to make the batter, rather than transferring mixture to a bigger bowl halfway through the recipe.
– I didn’t put the cake on a baking tray in the oven. And I forgot to cover the surface with a clean tea towel when it came out of the oven. And the cake didn’t rest overnight, I baked it on the day I served it (lack of time).
– For the icing, 1.5 tablespoon of lemon juice should do it. I used 2 and the icing was runny, although it hardened later on the cake, but it didn’t have the nice glossy look like on the picture.
– Definitely got better with time.
– I served it with homemade crème Anglaise. A bit of extra work but worth it!
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The recipe also says:
“Make it ahead. Place the un-iced cake in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. Alternatively, to freeze, wrap the un-iced cake in 2 layers of plastic wrap and sore in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once iced, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.”

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