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Fruit Cake - Is It Baked?

Asked by sconerhymeswithgone. Answered on 23rd April 2012

Full question

I'm baking my own wedding cake, using the Christmas cake recipe in Nigella's Feast. I used the largest measurements, and after leaving the cake to bake for 4 hours I opened the oven to discover it was still quite raw-looking - I'd put the cake on the lowest shelf in the oven, and it was obviously too low. I moved the cake up, increased the heat, and after another hour and a half the cake seemed to be cooked through. I am concerned, though, that as the cake sat for so many hours at a low temperature, that 1) it will not taste perfect - there might be a 'raw flour' taste, and 2) there might be a food safety issue because there were six raw eggs in the batter. As it's a wedding cake I want it to taste perfect and ideally not poison any of the pregnant or old people who'll be at the reception. What is your advice? Would it be best to throw out this cake and start again?

Our answer

We suspect that the cake should be fine to eat as larger fruit cakes (such as 30cm/12-inch cakes) can take 5 to 6 hours to cook through. Salmonella is killed at above 75c so as long as the centre of the cake is cooked thoroughly and has risen above this temperature (which it should if the lower shelf of your oven is running at something close to 130c/275F) then the risk of food poisoning is low. To check the cake you could always cut a small plug out of the cake from the base close to the middle. Check the centre of the cake is cooked properly and if you want you can taste the cake to make sure that the flavour is satisfactory. Fill the hole with some marzipan, or if you are very dexterous you may be able to slide the remaining part of the plug back into the cake. When a large cake like this is cut up at a wedding the pieces are usually fingers and not wedges and the small plug section can be trimmed away from one or two portions.

If you still feel unhappy or unsure, as a wedding cake is a big responsibility, then by all means make another cake. But we would suggest that rather than discarding the first cake you either use it to make the Christmas Puddini Bonbons from Nigella's book Christmas (you can use fruit cake instead of leftover Christmas pudding) or feed the cake generously with the spirit of your choice, wrap it in a double layer of baking parchment (parchment paper) and then a double of foil and keep it in a cool, dry place to enjoy at Christmas instead.

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