Baking made simple · cake · It's a piece of cake

Seriously is it December! It’s not too late to feed a fruit cake for Christmas!

I love this time of year. That aromatic, gorgeous smell of fruit cake baking at home, puts you in that Christmas spirit. My husband is not a fan of fruit cake, but the smell of it baking in the oven, he just loves. Those fruity, cinnamon, nutmeg aromas that it releases. And I’m sure you will agree with me, on how delicious and juicy, the Spanish lemons and oranges are!! What better way to make a fruit cake, with such fresh ingredients. I’m just in awe of the stunning trees with the biggest and brightest colours I’ve seen. My favourite place to eat is in Estepona square, or Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos (oranges). You can sit in the square surrounded by orange trees. What better way to have lunch or coffee with fresh aromas. Mmmmmm…..

Ok let’s get back to fruit cake! As we have just mentioned the fruit here is too good to waste. So grate off the lemon and orange zest. And squeeze those juices and let’s use it to soak your fruit for your cake in.

There are a few watch outs when baking a fruit cake. Especially when we don’t always bake one throughout the year. In the past, where I have got it wrong, I ended up either with a dry fruit cake or a cake with fruit all on the bottom, or the outside being baked more than the inside. Causing a raw middle or the sides to be over baked that the raisins got burnt!

To help prevent these problems, you need to take time not to forget a few vital preparation steps. Such as:

1. To prevent the mixed fruit drying out. Heat to the boil and simmer the mixed fruit with brandy or tea (for a non-alcoholic cake), for about 10 minutes. I add the lemon and orange juices and the zest to this too. Leave over night ideally or till cooled before you mix in with the cake mixture.

2. To help the cake bake at the right temperature throughout. Tie a damp cloth around your baking tin. This helps prevent the outside getting over baked.

3. Put a heating core in the middle of your tin, before adding the mixture. This helps heat your cake mixture evenly, throughout the tin. Preventing the middle of the cake being under baked compared to the outside.

4. Take the time to cut out baking parchment to put on the bottom and sides of your tin. As you will need to cool the cake in the tin later. So makes it a lot easier to take out after.

5. To prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Dust the fruit with flour just before you mix it in with the mixture.

6. That beautiful spice to your cake. If you can’t find mixed spices (I had this problem at the store). So I mixed up some ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon). And added bay leaves to the boiling fruit mixture.

7. Once your cake is cooled. Make a few holes on top with a toothpick. Wrap it in baking parchment and then foil. Feeding the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or strong tea once a week. Keep in an airtight container. Do not feed it for 24 hours before you want to cover with royal icing. This will prevent the icing from getting moist.

I am sure there are many other top tips on baking a fruit cake. Please share with me yours.

Here is the fruit cake recipe I use with apples as well!

INGREDIENTS

200g plain flour

200g butter

200g brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

2tsp vanilla extract

1tsp almond extract

1 juice of a lemon juice and grated zest

1 juice of an orange and grated zest

300g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins)

2 apples grated

100ml tea or brandy

METHOD

1. In a pot add fruit, orange and lemon juice and zest (strain the juices through a sieve, to avoid pips going into the pot). Add the tea or brandy and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan. Prepare your 20cm baking tin with grease proof paper, heating core and wrap the tin in a damp dishcloth or newspaper.

3. Mix the butter and sugar. Once mixed add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.

4. Dust the fruit with flour. This is such an important step!!

5. Add the rest of the flour, spices, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.

6. Spoon in the fruit mixture carefully.

7. Pour into the baking tin. Put in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour. Until the centre of the cake is baked.

8. Leave in the baking tin till cooled. Once cool take out of the tin. Wrap in baking paper and then foil. Prick a few holes on top and feed the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or tea once a week.

Ready to enjoy for Christmas 😍

Wedding Cakes

The big conversion

“The Big Conversion”

For the past four years, my husband has been telling me we should move to Spain. Every time I would groan, “but I don’t know anyone” or “my family are all in London”. But he would keep trying to convince me. Finally a year ago while I was pregnant, with my son. I was walking in the horrid, cold, windy, dark morning to work. And thought this is crazy, once I have my son I will be stuck indoors. So finally, I said we could move to Spain. The first thing I did was research places to meet other mums and dads. That’s when I came across “Baby Cakes Marbella”. Ashley, had just started up Baby Cakes Marbella (follow on Facebook) for mums to meet other mums. It’s so relaxed and fun. Ashley is fantastic she sings, reads to the kids and even has a bubble machine 😍. The kids love it dancing and laughing and having a great time. And us mums love it, we get to plan our mums night out. (while the dads look after the little ones). Plus it’s helped our husbands connect. Ashley is phenomenal she does these events along the Costa del Sol. She knows every kids name and has created this amazing family community.

Making new friends here has just been so amazing. And has helped us see, how different our lifestyle will be in Spain. It has also given me more time to tap into my love of baking and designing wedding cakes. I just love finding  new recipes. Especially those that are great for children. So I started this blog page, www.bakewitht.com to show how simple it can be to bake at home.

When I first came here, I found it so hard to find the ingredients I know how to bake with. But having found Morrisons in Gibraltar and Iceland in Marbella. Has helped so much. My son and I, recently were in Iceland in Marbella. I cannot describe how amazing all the staff were. The guy at the till (I wish I took his name) was incredible. I know this sounds strange, but I got overexcited to see things I knew, and ended up buying more than I originally thought. To the point, I must have looked like a helpless mum trying to push my son round in his pram. The guy at the till, just took my fears away. Jumped off the till and helped me take all my shopping bags to the car. Phew 😅 a life-saver! No need to look clumsy walking out the store. He just made my day! World class customer service! This is why I just love it here, everyone is just so welcoming and it’s a wonderful community.

I would love to invite you all, to follow me on bakewitht.com. I have some delicious recipes for everyone. My favourite is my husband’s, Bestemor (grandma) from Norway. Has a wonderful bread recipe she’s been using for over 70 years. The advantage of making it here, is the Spanish supermarkets, have fresh yeast 😋 Test it! Try it! Ping back your review!