The holidays are all about the scent of baking cookies and gingerbread and the celebrations of the New Year but I can't help feeling the need to revoke some of the festive spirit after the holidays - if that makes any sense.
Needless to say, I tend to bake this one all through the winter even though the flavors are indeed quite holiday spirit invoking.
Have you noticed how the cold weather also brings about a stillness in the air? The air seems pregnant with possibilities.
I love winters for this reason and also because I simply love crisp cold days more than hot, sweaty days and it makes me want to cook hearty stews and bake warm breads and roast meats.
My first experience making this cake, resulted in what I'd like to simply call - 'the incident'. An unforgettable one nevertheless, since my forgetting to use parchment paper during the baking process resulted in a beautiful brown, perfect cake, tearing apart as I tried to nudge it out of the loaf pan. Not pretty - and pretty much heartbreaking!
Any how, now that I have recovered, I simply must share this lovely recipe with you. I have sent a loaf of this delightful creation to my good friend Shearer and she assures that me that it was a roaring success not just with the grown-ups but also the kids. So yay for me! I've adapted this recipe from the original as published in the Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook.
Cherry Raisin Cake for the Holidays
Make a 9-inch loaf
1/2 lb. all-purpose flour
1/2 lb. butter, unsalted and softened at room temperature
1/2 lb. powdered sugar 1 tsp baking powder 2 eggs 4 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice 3/4 lb. golden raisins 1/2 lb. glazed cherries
Eggs - Crack eggs into a bowl, discard the shells and lightly beat with a fork or whisk. Oranges - Squeeze fresh oranges and reserve juice
Flour - In a large bowl place together the all purpose flour and baking powder. Reserve 2.5 oz flour separately.
Cherries and raisins - Halve the cherries. Toss in the 2.5 oz. reserved flour till thoroughly coated.
Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F.
Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan. To line the pan, cut 2 large rectangles - one the width of the length & the other the width of the other side. Spray the pan with non-stick baking spray so it acts as a glue. Place both the rectangles into the pan & they will overlap with the excess paper hanging off the sides. This is fine because it allows easy removal of the cake (use like handles).
Cook's Note: I learned the hard way that non-stick cooking spray simply doesn't stand a chance when baking for 2 hours. So the parchment paper is a must.
Set up a Kitchen Aid mixer or use a hand mixer. Cream the butter and the sugar for 3-4 minutes until creamy and fluffy and quite pale.
To the creamed butter and sugar, add beaten eggs and blend until combined. Add the orange juice and blend till well mixed.
To the flour, add this egg mixture. With a rubber spatula, fold the flour and egg mixture together, scraping the sides of the bowl and turning the batter over and over till completely blended.
Add the flour coated cherries and raisins and mix with the rubber spatula till completely mixed.
Bake for 2 hours in the preheated oven till the cake is a beautiful golden brown.
Cook's Note: Do not under bake this cake since it needs to completely dry out on the inside.
Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a baking rack. Wrap in foil and set aside for 3-4 days for the flavors to mature and it is ready to serve.
Cook's Note: Do not serve this cake immediately after baking as it will crumble if you try to slice into it. It needs to rest for 3-4 days after baking.
Cut into slices to serve with a hot cuppa or gift a loaf to family and friends.