Christmas cake query - when's it ready?

Discussion in 'Cakes' started by Chris, Oct 17, 2015.

  1. Chris

    Chris Member

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    I have a fairly basic question here, which I wonder about every year, and thought it would be good to get a definitive answer!

    I don't bake heavy fruit cakes very often, but I do make a Christmas cake most years, and use my trusty old recipe from a Sainsbury's cookbook dating from 1980. It's a standard Christmas cake recipe, uses a 23cm round tin (I'm actually using a 20cm square one this year as that's about the same area) and suggests cooking the cake at "Gas Mark 2, or 150C" for "3 to 4 hours". I've done this every year, and the cake turns out fine inside, although it usually looks overdone on the top.

    However, the test for when it's ready is supposed to be "when a skewer inserted in it comes out clean". I don't really know what that means - my cake is in the oven currently (I've set it to about 140C rather than 150C as it's fan-assisted) and it's been in for 90 minutes so far, so only about half way through cooking. However, the top looks done, it feels quite firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted in the centre of it comes out clean - but it can't possibly be ready after only 90 minutes. So how *do* you tell when it's ready?

    My secondary question relating to this is as I'm the only one in my circle of friends who likes Christmas cake, I'd like to make a smaller one, but how do I adjust the cooking time accordingly for a smaller cake? In other words, if it takes 3-4 hours for a 23cm tin, if I used 40% of each quantity and a 15cm tin, presumably as it's a smaller tin, the cooking time would be reduced - but to what?

    You can probably tell I only bake a cake like this once a year, as it's a pretty newbie question :)

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Chris, Oct 17, 2015
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  2. Chris

    Becky Administrator

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    I'd say it probably is cooked after 90 minutes! Trust in the skewer ;) Depends on how you like your fruitcake I guess, I really like it when it is just cooked because it's nice and moist. I really hate dry fruitcake!

    Regarding reducing the size, if you have 40% of the volume then I would say reduce the cooking time by 40% also - check on it at that point, and if it needs longer then leave it in for 10 mins and check again, and keep doing that until it's done.
     
    Becky, Oct 18, 2015
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  3. Chris

    Chris Member

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    Thanks for the advice, Becky. I played safe and took it out after 3 hours, but after covering the top with baking parchment to stop it getting too brown. I'm going to be "feeding" the cake with brandy every few days until December, so on past experience, it will be very moist (and quite alcoholic!) by then.

    In fact, what I'm going to do this year since I used a square tin instead of a round one, is cut the cake into four and marzipan and ice each one separately to make four mini-cakes. I'll know once I cut it if I overcooked it or not :)
     
    Chris, Oct 18, 2015
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  4. Chris

    Becky Administrator

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    Becky, Oct 23, 2015
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  5. Chris

    Chris Member

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    Thanks Becky - part of the ritual for me is making the marzipan and the royal icing :)
     
    Chris, Oct 23, 2015
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