When I purchased Merle's Kitchen last week, I didn't get past her very first recipe: Sultana Cake. I watched Merle in the MasterChef episode that showed her to be the CWA baking champ she has well and truly earned. I remember at the time frantically writing down every word she said about her beautiful Peach Blossom Cake. I recall at the time thinking, this lady knows what she's on about. I didn't hesitate buying her book for a minute when I spotted it on the shelf.
In fact I think I'll go back and buy several more books. I couldn't think of a nicer gift to give than this book together with one of my preserves or even one of the actual baked cakes inside. Her book is beautiful. I'm impressed and very envious. My kids took a glance and immediately glanced back at me. Well Ma, hope you manage to put together a book like this before you're 78 - or words similar to that is what they tell me. Gee, hope your right kids.
I've been so tired and negligent in my domestic home duties with all the campaigning lately; I decided to relax a little and make a cake. I grabbed Merle's book, checked my cupboard to find enough sultanas and the deal was sealed. Let's have another crack at the sultana cake.
(recipe taken from Merle's Kitchen)
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup water
2 tsp cornflour
250gm butter, at room temperature, chopped
1 cup white sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to moderately slow (140deg C). Grease a 22cm round cake tin, and line the base with baking paper.
- Combine the sultanas, brandy and half the water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-ow heat and simmer until the liquid has absorbed into the fruit.
- Stir the cornflour and remaining water together until smooth and add to the pan. Stir for 2-3 minutes, until it comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from the heat, cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool until just lukewarm.
- Use electric beaters to cream the butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder,then the sultana mixture. Spoon into the tin, and smooth the surface. Bake for 2 hours, on the second bottom shelf of your oven, until firm to a gentle touch in the centre. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Due to the longer baking time, line the sides of the tin with baking paper too.
- I only mixed a little water with the cornflour -just enough to be able to pour into the boiled sultanas.
- I placed the boiled sultanas on a plate & evenly levelled them to cool faster. Sit on a rack. I refuse to place cling film directly over any hot food.
- I added 1/4 cup of milk when the flour needed to be folded through.
- I used castor sugar
- I beat the butter first before adding sugar; also added a tsp of vanilla.
- I preheated my oven to 120deg C. Baked it for 2 hours 20 mins.
My search is over. I'm delighted with this cake. I'm looking forward to entering this cake into our local show this year. I'm confident this recipe will bag me a ribbon. Thumbs up from me.
My dear son saw me taking a photo of the cake this morning and I gave him a piece. He said it looks very unspectacular and that was a shame because it tasted far better than it looked. Not sure I agree with him. I understand where he's coming from, but I'm really getting over the schmancy fancy look of things, and humble simplicity is what I find more appealing these days. It's true country fare, the old-fashioned way, buttery, rich and sustaining. I love it; thanks Merle. I'm in a quandary. I have no idea which recipe to try next. That'll be a while though, because a little piece of good sultana cake will keep me going for the better part of two weeks. And yes, I think it will definitely keep well for that time. It's official - I can now tick another box - recipe for a good sultana cake. Thank goodness.
Come in closer because I don't want Merle to hear. The sultana cake in her book looks grand; but I think mine looks better. Shhhhh.