-Set your oven to 250 degrees F. (Regular bake feature.)
-Prepare your 2 (9″ x 5″ loaf pans. Line the bottom and sides with a double thickness of parchment paper.
Here is my easy method to line any loaf pan: Double fold your parchment paper to fit and go from one side, over the bottom and up the other side. Allow the top edges to overhang by a couple of inches. Now do the same with another double sheet of parchment paper and go from one end along the bottom and up to the other end, allowing a bit of overhang here as well. This easy method covers all sides and the bottom has an extra double thickness of protection during baking. This parchment paper can be saved and used again for future bakings. Simply wipe clean after baking with a damp dish cloth. I keep my parchment paper right in the washed loaf pan ready for another day.
-Generously grease the parchment paper liner with soft butter, covering all of the surfaces. Set aside for the time being.
-If you have an electric mixer, this is the time to use it. Cream the soft room temperature butter until nice and fluffy.
-Add in the white sugar and continue to mix for 5 minutes of until very fluffy.
-Now add your room temperature eggs one at a time and mix for 1 minute after the addition of each egg. You want your batter to be as fluffy as possible here. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to have everything blended well. (I break one egg at a time into a small bowl. This ensures that no egg shell will be in your batter.)
-Add the pure almond extract and grated orange zest. Mixing well.
-In a very large bowl, combine the glace mixed fruit, halved glace cherries, glace pineapple (I cut each wedge of pineapple in half), candied citron peel, golden sultanas and slivered almonds.
-Toss the 1/2 cup of unbleached flour over the fruit and almonds. Toss the flour to coat all of the fruit and almonds.
-Sift the remaining 1- 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, baking powder and fine salt into a bowl.
-Lastly your will alternately add the sifted flour mixture in 3 additions and the orange liqueur in 2 additions into the butter, sugar and egg mixture -Do NOT overmix at this point. Just mix until combined.
-You are getting to the end here. Just pour the batter over the floured fruit and almonds. Use a strong wooden spoon to ensure that everything is evenly mixed together. You can use your clean washed hands as well here.
-I use a large ladle to fill the both parchment and buttered loaf pans. Evenly divide the batter between both pans. Use a knife to spread out the top of the batter smoothly.
-If you wish you can press over the top of your loaves extra cherries and almonds to make a pretty design. My dear Mum used to do this on top of her cakes for decoration, but it isn’t necessary.
-Place a shallow pan on the lowest rack in your oven. You will pour boiling water into the pan. The steam from this hot water will help to keep your loaves nice and tender and moist during baking. Keep this pan of hot water in your oven for the whole baking time of your loaves. Add more hot water if necessary.
-Place your fruitcakes on the middle oven rack. Bake the loaves for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
-To test for doneness, insert a cake tester into the top centre of the loaf. If it comes out clean. the loaf is done.
-If your loaves begin to crack during baking, loosely cover them with a piece of tinfoil.
-Once baked, place the loaves still in their baking pans on a wire cooling rack.
-After about 6 hours, you can carefully remove the loaves from the pans.
-Brush the tops and sides of the baked cakes with more orange liqueur, then wrap them in 2 layers of plastic wrap. and then in a layer of tinfoil. After this is done, place each loaf in a plastic bag. If you have a cookie tin to fit, they can be placed in this as well. Store your cakes in your fridge or freeze for future use. They can be happy sitting in your fridge for a whole year if you wish.
I bake these cakes all through the year. They are simply deilcious! ENJOY!!!