Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Vinegar Cake - A Vintage Fruit Cake Recipe

Croque Madame. Cheese and ham toastie topped with a fried egg. So good, so simple and what I had for dinner tonight, loving every not particularly healthy mouthful - with a generous serving of tomato ketchup on the side for dipping of course. I'll forgive any student jokes on this occasion because it was so utterly yummy and something I've been wanting to try for ages. Admitttedly the thought of no vegetables with my dinner caused too much guilt so I had a small salad with it but I ate it seperately so as not to ruin the main attraction. It was worth the wait. Sometimes a person ought to give into these desires and just enjoy what they fancy.

Something else I've been wanting to make for ages is a fruit cake. I don't know why and even now I've satisfied that desire, I still can't explain it. 

Perhaps it was a memory of a certain cake I make at a certain time of year but I don't want to mention the word in the middle of June, the very same cake that I soak in rum and brandy then cover in marzipan and icing and everyone finds so delicious that it is a crying shame it only gets made once a year. It's such a good cake. If you find yourself in a similar situation, craving seasonal favourites but not not wanting to make to full blown affair, might I suggest this beauty as an alternative?

If you have managed to stay with me to this point, through the foul sounding title and my odd ramblings about my dinner then I know you are interested. 

A supersoft crumb with an almost sugar crust type exterior holding a mixture of dried fruits and topped with a delightfully sticky marmalade glaze with soaks into the surface, marrying the caramel flavours hidden inside giving an affectionate reminder that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

It might be expected that the removal of the eggs would result in a dry cake, or one which gives up all of its pleasing attributes on day two but nothing could be farther from the truth. This is one of those recipes that keeps on improving. It's also mega easy to make too. Rub butter into flour, stir in fruit and sugar, quickly mix in the rest of the ingredients to get the magic started, into the tin and bake.

The necessities of war rationing meant that the eggs had to go and bakers had to rely on the chemical reaction between acidic vinegar and alkaline bicarbonate of soda to provide lift. Plus, it is one of those adaptable recipes which can be tailored to suit individual tastes (caster, soft brown, muscovado sugar instead of demerara) or to use up the almost finished packets of fruit gathering in the back of cupboards, those that all bakers confess to having at some point or another. War is always a bad time but one thing is for sure, British resourcefulness shone through and this must be one of the best culinary creations to come from such times.


print recipe

Vinegar Cake
A vintage recipe originating from the war era using vinnegar and bicarbonate soda as the raising agents in place of eggs. A lovely soft crumb and fully of flavour, this is perfect for using up ends of packets of various dried fruits.
Ingredients
  • 175g butter, chilled
  • 340g self-raising flour
  • 175g demerara sugar
  • 350g dried fruit - a mixture of your favourite tossed in 1heaped tbsp flour
  • 175ml milk
  • 25ml cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 scoop marmalade thinned with a small splash of water
Instructions
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease/line a 9" loose bottomed deep cake tin.2. Rub the butter into the flour, stir in the sugar followed by the fruit. 3. Mix the milk and vinegar then quickly stir in the bicarbonate of soda and very quickly pour into the dry ingredients, mix until evenly combined (it will be a fairly stiff mixture), transfer to the tin and level off.4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hr 15 mins, lowering the temperature as necessary, and covering the top with foil if it looks like it is browning to quickly. A cake tester inserted into the centre will come out clean when ready.5. Leave in the oven with it turned off for five mins then place on a wire rack and gently poke with a skewer to create fine holes. Heat the thinned marmalade in the microwave then spread over the top. Cool in the tin for 15 mins then remove and cool completely. 

Recipe adapted from World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey

There are a few challenges this month that this Vinegar Cake recipe would be perfect for. The dried fruit makes it suitable for the chosen letter of D for Alphabakes, hosted this month by Caroline from Caroline Makes, alternatively with Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker.

Ness from JibberJabber UK has set the theme of Love Cake this month as Vintage Cakes. It took me a while to choose from a long list I had gathereed but my eventual choice of a wartime recipe fits the bill nicely.

Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Foof for Families is hosting the No Waste Food Challenge on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary this month. I finished off the sultanas, raisins, cranberries and glace cherries in my mum's cupboard to form the mix for this cake which had been opened for a while. It is a perfect base for using up whatver fruit you have to hand and fits in with the wartime ethics too of using what was available. 



I was tempted to add chocolate chips to the mix as well but I helf off on this occasion. If you want proof that chocolate in fruit cake is a god idea then check out this post here (still not mentioning that word!)

Also, I have cakes on the brain at the moment and even though it is five months away, I can't wait to attend the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes show. Have a look at this post to get your own 25% discount before June 30th. Or spread the word to someone you know who loves cake that much too!

16 comments:

  1. I have never made a vinegar cake, but it looks good! I am not big on fruit cake, although an occasional nibble is nice. Does it keep as well as the cake that is made at 'that' time of year?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not quite as well as 'that' sort of cake but I think it would still be good for a family who all like fruit cake for a fair few days. Or it could be scaled down easily enough =)

      Delete
  2. I saw versions of vinegar cake for another blog challenge and have put it on my to bake list. I'm not a fan of fruit cake so I've not rushed to bake one but yours looks really good. I know my parents would love it as they like fruit cake. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you =) I didn't used to like fruit cake either but I was converted after eating Dundee cake. I hope your parents enjoy it if you ever make a version of vinegar cake for them.

      Delete
  3. I love fruit cakes especially the one that we only get to eat once a year (I love it even more than birthday cake!) but I've never thought to try the vinegar version. Your cake looks so moist and inviting that I'm going to have to try it sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like it, let me know the results if you try it for yourself! That is a very tall order to like that particular cake more than birthday cake but I can fully see why you'd say that. If my birthday cakes weren't always chocolate then I would agree with you!

      Delete
  4. What a great idea to tweak your Christmas cake (there, I said it!) for the summer! Thanks for entering Alphabakes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha I've been dying to say it but am not brave enough to withstand all the potential scowls!

      Delete
  5. I was hoping for some wartime nostalgia this month and this cake is perfect! Thanks for linking up with this month's Love Cake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seemed really fitting and I was drawn to this recipe after all. I always enjoy joining in with Love Cake when time allows =)

      Delete
  6. A fab cake recipe for when I've run out of eggs and want to use up those pesky part packets of dried fruit lurking in my pantry. I do love wartime recipes as they are so inventive and thrifty. Thanks so much for entering No Waste Food Challenge this month :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I think we can learn a lot from times gone by when necessity called for different baking habits. And the results are usually so good too.

      Delete
  7. Mmm I love fruit cake, but it's only something I've started liking over these last few years. I never liked it as a child?! Thank you for linking up with the no waste food challenge :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the same and now I wonder why on earth I wouldn't eat it when I was young because it's lovely!

      Delete
  8. Your pictures look fabulous and have now given me a craving for fruit cake - who cares about seasons! I've made vinegar cake before (albeit with chocolate in) and it makes a lovely fruit cake I reckon. These days I often put vinegar in my cake even if it has got eggs in as it helps give a good rise and seems to make for a nice consistency.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, that's made me smile =) I'm not surprised you've tried a version with chocolate in and I'm pleased to know it turned out well because I've wondered if it would work - I even said to my mum after she had made this cake that one of us needs to try a chocolate version next. I'll remember your advice too about putting vinegar in a fruit cake with eggs anyway - I hadn't thought about using both techniques before.

      Delete

Thanks for taking a peak at my blog. I would love to hear what you think or any suggestions so please feel free to comment below!