Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cherry sultana cake

A hot cup of tea and a nice, sturdy piece of cake. What way to fend off the cold and other maladies?

I personally am not built for the cold and am really struggling in this body-numbingly cold Sydney winter (apparently last week had the coldest couple of days in 20 years!). But there's plenty to be happy about!

Just a quick recap in what's happened since I last posted. First of all, I finished (and passed) all my placements!! Hip hip hooray!! It was certainly a busy (and at times stressful) semester - anyone who has been on placement will understand the pressure of being constantly judged, the insecurity of being a not-quite-experienced-enough student, and the anxiety of whether you are good enough to pass the grade, not to mention making sure all the various checklists and competencies get written up and signed off. Overall though it was a rewarding experience in so many ways. I really developed my dietetic skills through the successes and challenges, had the opportunity to work in wonderful places and meet other talented professionals, and last but not least made some great new friends along the way :)

In other news, an old school friend recently gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl! To support her through this new phase of life, my friends and I put together a care package, and I baked a reliable, traditional sultana butter cake as my gift. I wanted a cake that would hold up solidly over the course of time and would deliver comfort with every mouthful. Not the healthiest thing I know, but I do think new mums and dads need as much love and support as they can get, even if it's in cake form!

In the meantime, now that I've had some time off, I also made Mr Duckie his favourite cherry and almond cake (I've written about his love of cherry-and-almond based sweets before).The result was that I had lots of leftover sultanas and cherries!

I actually wanted to remake the sultana butter cake because it looked so tasty when I first baked it! But then I found this recipe and thought it would be the perfect way to use up all my leftover fruits (and leftover brandy from these cherry truffles)!

The recipe itself was very easy to make - simply melt the sultanas, butter, sugar, and brandy together, and then add in the cherries, eggs and flour. You could do it all in one pan! I also added some extra mixed spice and ground ginger to increase the fruit-cake like flavour, and because I really like the combo of mixed spice and sultana! I also ran out of marmalade, so I substituted with golden syrup and mandarin zest (because I also had no oranges around!).

Ready to go in one pan!
The one thing to watch out for is the cooking time. The recipe states one and a half hours, and I took mine out at one hour and ten minutes, but the cake seemed a bit dry (hence the crumbly looking slices in the photos). So next time I would take it out a bit earlier, although I know this depends on the oven.

Fresh out of the oven but still needs cooling before eating!
Also the recipe calls for the cake to cool for 8 hours before eating - of course, I didn't quite have the patience to wait and cut into it a bit earlier, again leading to crumbly slices, but when I cut it again a bit later it held up better so you can see the beautiful glossy red cherry slices.

Looking a bit more solid after sufficient cooling!
Nonetheless, whether crumbly or solid, it was a very tasty cake! The kitchen smelt absolutely gorgeous as the cake was baking. The flavour of the butter really came through and seemed to have infused into the sultanas. Mr Duckie has taken the final piece with him as he travels for work so hopefully it is sturdy enough to withstand the journey. In any case, I do believe that this cake was strong and sweet enough to hold up to a cold winter's day ;)

Cherry sultana cake

Adapted from 


125g butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 cups sultanas
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons marmalade (or my alternative: 1 tbsp marmalade and 1 tbsp golden syrup + zest of one mandarin)
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup red glace cherries, quartered
2 eggs, lightly whisked

1. Place butter, sultanas, sugar, marmalade and brandy in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until butter melts (do not let the mixture boil). Set aside for 45 minutes to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Line base and sides of a 10 x 20 cm (base measurement) non-stick loaf pan with 2 layers of brown paper, then 1 layer of baking paper, extending each 5cm over sides of pan (I just used 2 layers of baking paper).
3. Sift the flours into a bowl.
4. Add cherries and eggs to butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the sifted flours in 2 batches, stirring after each addition until combined.
5. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 1 to 1.5 hours (check after 1 hour), or until a skewer inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and cover the cake (still in the pan) tightly with foil, then wrap the pain in a tea towel.. Set aside for 8 hours or overnight to cool completely.