Monday, 14 January 2013

Caraway and Vinegar Fruit Cake

In his Guardian column this weekend, Dan Lepard gave two recipes for cakes raised with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Although I've never really noticed vinegar cakes before, both recipes sounded really interesting. I chose the first recipe, as I'd baked with dates in my recent Date and Maple Brownies. Dan suggests that this Caraway and Vinegar Currant Cake is quite adaptable, so I took him at his word, and replaced the currants (not tolerated in this house) with a mix of sultanas, dried cranberries and chopped ready-to-eat dried apricots. I kept the caraway seeds in the recipe, as I quite like the flavour, but it could be replaced with any other spice - I know it's an acquired taste.

I followed the recipe exactly, except I only used 225 mls of the suggested 275mls milk - I kept back 50 mls, as Dan used that inexact term  'about' 275mls. The batter was very sloppy, so I decided not to add the reserved milk.

As we are not eating large quantities of cake at the moment, I divided the batter between two small loaf tins, so that half could go into the freezer. The batter completely filled my loaf tins, so if you make this, make sure you use a really deep baking tin. I was worried about overflow, but the cakes rose gently, and the outer edges were set before the centre showed signs of rising - I think most of the rise occurred in the last 15 minutes of the baking time, which was the same for these loaves as suggested in the recipe.

This was a really well flavoured cake, with a soft-textured, moist crumb not usually seen in fruit cakes - Dan says this is down to the use of vinegar, whose acidity 'mellows the starch'. The crumb is a little 'holey'; and uneven,  but this doesn't detract from the flavour.

The mix of fruits I used worked well too, with the sweetness of the sultanas and apricots balanced by the tarter cranberries. The fruit stayed evenly distributed throughout the cake, and although there wasn't the quantity to call this a rich fruit cake, there were plenty of pieces of fruit in each slice. The caraway wasn't overwhelming, but it was noticeable, so it's best to substitute if you don't like the flavour.


Foodycat said...

It looks much prettier with cranberry and apricot than it would have with currants!

Phil in the Kitchen said...

I've liked the idea of fruit cakes made with vinegar since I heard about them as a kid. I haven't always been that keen on the results, though. This does look like a very good version. Based on vinegar cakes I've made before, I think the uneven texture is not that unusual.

Suelle said...

Currants = dead flies, Foodycat, so anything is prettier!

Thanks for that reassurance, Phil!

Caroline said...

It certainly does look very attractive. I noticed these recipes too, but have always thought that the vinegar was used as part of the raising agent for cakes when hens were off-lay at this time of year and was therefore surprised to find that the cakes were fairly egg-heavy. Interesting that the vinegar seems to have had a positive impact on the texture of the crumb though!