Sunday, March 30, 2008


I know that Easter is now in the distant past but I haven't been at home much recently, and therefore, this posting is a 'little late'.
Julia, over at the delicious A Slice of Cherry Pie is hosting her Easter Cake Bake, Round 2! challenge.
I entered the Easter Cake Bake last year, and there were lots of really good entries. I'm really looking forward to this year's roundup.
My choice of cake was based purely on design, also the cake had a favourite of mine on the ingredients list, Amaretto liqueur.
The cake benefits from being left for a couple of days to 'mature' before it's decorated with marzipan.
A taster of recipes from this book are Burnt-Sugar Cake, Choco-malt Cake (I think we all know this one - it's decorated with Maltezers), Red Velvet Cake, Caramel Pecan Loaf and Gooey Chocolate Cake. This is a book to suit every occasion and now I've made a wonderful cake from it, I'm sure I will turn to it again.
The author Valerie Barrett is a food writer and stylist. She has worked for Good Housekeeping Magazine, BBC Good Food and Delicious, as well as writing her own books.

CAKES GALORE - by Valerie Barrett

ISBN 9781846011108 - Page 96

Makes: 12-14 slices

You will need: a deep 18cm round cake tin, greased and lined.

500g luxury mixed dried fruit, 2 tablespoons Amaretto, 175g softened unsalted butter, 175g soft light brown sugar, 3 beaten eggs, finely grated zest of ½ lemon, 200g self-raising flour, 2 teaspoons ground mixed spice, 50g ground almonds, 500g ready-made natural almond paste or marzipan, 225g ready-made yellow almond paste or marzipan, 1-2 tablespoons warmed apricot jam,, coloured ribbon and small chocolate or sugar-coated eggs to decorate.

1. Put the mixed fruit in a bowl and sprinkle over the Amaretto. Leave to soak for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. Fold in the flour, mixed spice and ground almonds, then add the dried fruit mixture and mix well. Set aside.
3. Roll out half of the natural almond paste or marzipan on a sheet of non-stick baking paper to form an 18cm circle. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the base of the prepared tin, spreading it evenly. Place the almond paste circle on top. Spoon over the remaining cake mixture, then level the surface. Bake in the oven for 2-2½ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
4. Roll out the remaining natural almond paste and all but 50g of the yellow paste to form two 18cm circles and place the yellow one on top of the natural one. Shape 8 balls from the remaining yellow paste.
5. Lightly brush the top of the cake with warm jam, leaving a small circle in the centre uncoated. Place the almond circle, yellow-side up, on top of the cake and trim the edges. Using a glass, lightly mark a circle in the centre of the cake. Using a sharp knife, cut through both almond-paste layers up to the edges of the circle to make 8 segments. Lift up the pointed end of each segment and peel it back to reveal the natural almond paste underside. Press it gently into the edge of the cake. Place a yellow almond paste ball on top.
6. Tie a ribbon around the cake and fill the centre with sugar-coated chocolate eggs.

N.B. After the cake came out of the oven I brushed the top with more Amaretto to soften the top. I then wrapped the tin which is still housing the cake in a large sheet of foil and enclosed this at the top to form a parcel. The steam then softens the top of the cake. The next day when the cake is cold turn out of the tin leave for a couple of days in an airtight tin, then decorate.
For the decoration: I dealt with the cutting of the marzipan on a board and then placed it carefully on top of the cake, this was to prevent any crumbs on top of the cake getting onto the marzipan.

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