Sunday, January 05, 2020

Mangoes and early Christmas cakes

Wow its been awhile since I posted, life has been so busy lately with working 2 jobs and loving both of them, if I had to chose one job I couldn't, they are both unique in their own way and enjoyable.

After a two week holiday over Christmas and New Year I had some days left and yesterday I baked and scraped and preserved Christmas cakes and Mango Chutney - the spicy type. I had soaked the fruit in September intending to cook these cake for Christmas 2019 but ran out of time, so now I am early for Christmas 2020 LOL.

Now I notice my cakes have cracked in the middle, can any experience cook out there tell me why its cracked? I left it in the pan to cool before I took it out.

18kgs of mangoes de-seeded and grated down to 9kgs, that will last me a year or two I hope LOL. I eat it like its going out of style. I also use it to marinate my prawns, this year I'll try and use it to marinate other meats and see what happens. I use spices I buy from the shops. I have never made the spices from scratch yet. 
Thats my husband lending a helping hand, he's a gem and a keeper, which was awesome as I now have arthritis in my wrists and this process of grating is really taxing on my hands. I need to find a food processor to do this as I make these every year. 

This is called Mango Kuchela and is spicy, made with mustard oil and Indian spices.

EDITED: Did some research and my problem was the position of the rack. See Alice's Rules

In case the link doesn't work:

So many finicky details make the difference in baking. The position of the rack in the oven is almost as important as the baking temperature! And pan rotation is important for even baking too. Too many recipes don’t even mention rack position or pan rotation. Go figure.  
Here are my rules for racks and rotation (for non-convection gas ovens) when recipes don’t otherwise specify: 
To bake cake(s) on one rack: Position the rack in the lower third (just below center) of the oven. If baking more than one pan on the rack, rotate the pans from the front to the back a little over halfway through the baking time. Exception: I bake a single thin sheet of cake for a jellyroll, in the center of the oven.
To bake a single sheet of cookies: Position the rack in the center of the oven. Rotate the sheet from front to back a little over halfway through the baking time.
To bake cakes or cookies on two racks:  Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Rotate the pans from upper to lower and back to front a little over halfway through the baking time.
For electric ovens: I use the same rules, but when the electrical element is exposed in the oven, I consider the bottom of the oven to start on top of the coil rather than under it, and I position my racks accordingly: thus the center of the oven is midway from the top of the coil to the top of the oven and the lower third is one third of the distance from the top of the coil to the top of the oven, etc. Got it?
How not to overcook your Christmas Cake 

It's that time of year and I'm busy in the kitchen preparing Christmas treats galore, however, I'm having trouble achieving the perfect Christmas fruit cake. After it's cooked, I find that the bottom of the cake is burnt and the top of the cake has large cracks in it. Can you tell me what I'm doing so wrong?!
It sounds like all of your problems have been caused by a very hot oven. Fruit cakes will burn on the bottom or crack on top if they're baked at too high a temperature. Make sure you set your oven to the exact temperature given in the recipe. The burnt bottom can also occur if the cake is wrongly positioned in the oven. Or if the pans are lined incorrectly. Fruit cakes require protection during long, slow baking times. Cakes that are 22cm or smaller require three thicknesses of baking-paper lining. Larger cakes need one or two sheets of brown paper and three sheets of baking paper.


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