Multi Mini Fruit cakes
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The following is an extract from a letter from Allison Ratcliffe, an experienced cake maker who was kind enough to pass-on to us her method for baking 36 multi-mini fruit cakes:

 

I used a standard rich fruit cake recipe for a square 12 inch tin (Delia based), but regardless of the recipe I always use ground almonds rather than flaked, then there's no sticky out bits.  I cook in an Electric oven at 150oC (not fan).


I think planning was the big thing for doing mini fruit cakes as opposed to mini sponges.

I was worried about lining the tins adequately to stop the fruitcakes ‘catching’ then I found a set of Re-Usable Liners for Square Mini Pans on the Squires Kitchen site.   These were brilliant, as I didn’t need to grease and paper line the tins.  Then because they are non-stick they peeled off effortlessly when the cakes were cold and I just washed them and used them again.


I was also bothered that the whole maturing process of brandying the cakes, wrapping them for maturing and unwrapping them would be too tedious.  So I decided in advance that I would brandy the cakes and marzipan them allowing the cake to mature in the almond paste and storing them in the usual manner until ready for icing later.  So in view of this I also pre ordered the pre cut cake cards in advance.


Having done all that I needed to commit time to these cakes for 3 consecutive days to save time later.

I have the large mini pan set (36 square mini pan tin).  I decided that despite having made mini sponge cakes successfully in the past I really wanted to have more control over the cooking time for fruit cakes as I didn’t want the outer ones to catch while the middle ones finished cooking… so I did the 36 cakes in 2 batches (20 and 16) Like this:


I made the 12 inch cake mix up in the usual manner…

I lined the ungreased mini tins with my reusable liners

I used the tray that came with the mini pans but arranged the 1st batch as a 4 x 5 rectangle.

I filled each mini tin to the very top (more than is require for sponges).

I wrapped the rectangle with 3 layers of greaseproof paper 2 inches taller than the tins, tied with string and balanced a single layer of greaseproof as a roof on top, ripping out 2 10p sized holes sort of in the middle.

While these were cooking I covered the remaining cake mix with a clean wet tea towel to stop it drying out.

This 1st batch cooked in about 2 - 2 and 1/2 hours. 

Then I put the second batch of 16 minis in, as a 4x4 arrangement and sat them on one of my own baking trays as a base, as above (as the 1st batch was cooling on the original mini pan tray).  The batch of 16 took slightly less time than the batch of 20 but much less time than if cooking an 8” square cake.


I left the cakes to cool over night.

In the morning I cut the tops of each cake while they were still in their tins.  I then spiked the cakes a few times and ‘sprinkled’ brandy over them. Then I pressed a piece of greaseproof paper over the cakes still in their tins and wrapped the whole batch in foil over night.


The next day I turned the cakes out of their tins and removed the liners.  Then I covered them in Apricot jam with a splosh of brandy and applied the almond paste.  They need to mature for around 6 weeks before being eaten.  During this time I turn the cakes to even out the process (I have no idea if this actually makes any difference but it made sense to me). 


If you imagine all the little marzipanned cakes sealed in on their boards sat in their cupboard (or drawer in my case), after about 1 week the marzipan will have surface dried.  At that point I remove them from the drawer, and line the drawer with baking parchement.  Return them to the drawer placing them all upside down (so the cake card is on the top).  If they are flush edge cards I cover the cards an bases with another layer of parchment. 
After another 2 weeks I turn back the right way and a couple of weeks after that I get ahead and start icing and 2-3 weeks later they are ready to serve.

The big issue for me is cleaning everything afterwards, as I'm lazy and the tins don’t go in the dishwasher.  But I've found that if I soak the tins in hot soapy water and leave them over night, with a change of water in the morning they are much easier to wash.  Sad as it sounds I also have a cheap battery toothbrush, which whizzes along the corners and removes any last bits.

I make cakes on a small scale on the Isle of Man (there are only 80 000 of here so it's not big time) but I'm confident that the finished fruit minis will be fine. 

You can see some of my efforts on http://www.manxcakemaker.com/weddingcakes.htm .


I hope that helps your product development in some way....


Bye for now


Allison Ratcliffe.

P.S.: I am now on Facebook as  Allison Ratcliffe - manxcakemaker.com

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We always ask for feedback, and are often delighted with the response we get. This reply though, and the accompanying photographs, stand out as amongst the best "customer feedback" we have ever seen.

Many thanks to Allison.