Tuesday, June 19, 2012

3. Raspberry Pie and 2. Christmas Fruit Cake

Raspberry Pie
“Pie... it fills the cracks of the heart. Go away, pain.”- Mall Cop (movie, 2009).

As the New Year beckons, we start off with a Raspberry Pie filled with the crispiness of a buttery crust, the goodness of cream cheese and the redness of raspberries. Though the days are cold and wintry, the freshly baked pie warms my heart. This dessert is a reminder of the good times and a harbinger of the colours of Spring to come. Make yourself cosy by the cackling fire with a piece of this comforting pie. May new hopes fill your heart and may your days be filled with sunshine. Have a wonderful 2012.

Raspberry Pie 
(Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking.com) 
Serves 12

Pie Crust: 
1 cup (130 g) all purpose flour 
1/3 cup (35 g) powdered sugar 
½ cup (113 g) cold salted butter, cut into pieces  

Pie Filling: 
125 g cream cheese, room temperature 
½ cup (100 g) granulated white sugar 
2 medium eggs 
2/3 cup (160 ml) light cream (10- 18% fat) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Zest of 1 medium lemon 

1-11/2 cup (110- 165 g) raspberries, washed & dried

1. Preheat oven to 220o C and grease a 10 inch (25 cm) pie dish. 

2. Combine the ingredients for the pie crust using fingertips and flatten it onto the pie dish using a spoon. Pierce with a fork all over and keep covered in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

3. Bake the crust for 13 minutes, until it turns pale brown. Keep aside to cool and lower the oven temperature to 180o C. 

4. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese to a smooth consistency with a hand mixer. 

5. With the mixer going on, add sugar, eggs- one at a time, cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat till fully combined. 

6. Pour into prepared dish and throw in the raspberries.

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes until firm to touch. Cool in the fridge.  

Christmas Fruit Cake

“Friends are the fruitcake of life – some are nutty, some are soaked in alcohol, some firm, some sweet, but all together, great to have in life!” – Unknown.

So is this great fruitcake. The fragrance of ground spices- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and ginger has always been the smell of Christmas for me. Every bite into this age old recipe makes me feel nostalgic about the times when mom was the one who used to bake this fruit cake. I had always followed the recipe word to word until this time when it had to be baked for the small Christmas Party attended by 25 colleagues at work. I decided to play around with the ingredients... the original recipe calls for 5 eggs but my personal taste is not for more than 2 eggs in a cake. To maintain the moist feel of mom's cake, I substituted with half butter and half oil. I had to pull out all my math to step up the recipe and ended up a bit feverish, a bit jumpy, as it was my first attempt at baking a large cake. But in the end, it all turned out to give the fine product I present before you. Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Fruit Cake
(Inspired from my Mom's recipe)
Serves: 30

Pre soak overnight:
2 cups (250 g) chopped dried fruits (dates, apricots, prunes, cranberries, raisins)
1 cup (100 g) chopped nuts (cashews and pecans)
3/4 cup (180 ml) apple juice

3 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) water

Spice mix:
Ground pods of 3- 4 cardamom
(Tip: To grind finely, add a teaspoon of granulated white sugar along with the pods)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg mace (optional)

1 1/2 cups (195 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Soak the fruits and nuts in apple juice overnight at room temperature.

2. Grease, line with parchment and flour a 13 x 9 x 2 inch (33 x 23 x 5 cm) rectangular cake tray. Preheat oven to 350o F (177o C).

3. Take sugar and water in a saucepan, stir once and keep over medium- low flame. Take out of flame as the sugar caramelizes to light amber color. Make sure it does not thicken but is still a dark colored liquid.

4. In a heat resistant glass bowl, melt butter in a microwave. Keep aside to cool till lukewarm.

5. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice mix

6. Add eggs and sugar to a bowl. Using a hand mixer beat on medium speed for a minute till light and fluffy.
7. Add melted butter, vegetable oil, vanilla essence and caramel to the egg mixture. Beat on medium speed till fully incorporated.

8. Sieve flour mixture into the liquid mixture and beat on low speed for a minute till the dry ingredients are incorporated without lumps.

9. Fold into the batter, the soaked fruits and any leftover soaking liquid.

10. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55- 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool. 

While the cake is still warm, brush with a little extra apple juice just enough to moisten the cake.…Enjoy!

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