Dreams of leisurely, luxurious train travel inspire this Christmas fruitcake
Rail travel always has been a love of mine, from climbing on the steam engine at Magnolia Park in Beaumont, where I grew up, to the train that circumnavigated Hermann Park in Houston on our trips to the zoo. I ride the Sunset Limited to New Orleans and Los Angeles and the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles. I even motorcycle up to Palestine, Texas, to ride the steam train.
My bucket list includes trains like the Orient Express, The Blue Train in South Africa and the Trans-Siberian Railway. I may never make those trips, but I dream. While researching desserts for the Christmas season, I came across this famous fruitcake recipe served for teatime aboard the Royal Scotsman that traverses the entirety of Scotland. The romantic idea of having tea and cake while touring the beauty of Scotland has a strong attraction. Perhaps we can even solve an Agatha Christie murder-mystery on the way.
Royal Scotsman Fruitcake
Makes: An 8-inch round cake
1 2⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3⁄4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs beaten
2⁄3 cup ground almond or almond flour
2 cups mixed dried fruit and chopped candied peels (lemon or orange)
2⁄3 cup candied cherries, rinsed, dried and halved
1-2 tablespoons milk
8 ounces marzipan
1⁄2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Prepare an 8-inch round deep pan by greasing it and lining it with greased parchment paper. Sift flour with baking powder and salt, and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, then gradually beat in the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in two eggs — one at a time — beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour with the last two eggs. Use a spatula to fold in the rest of the flour and ground almonds.
When thoroughly blended, fold in the fruit mixture and the cherries. Add enough milk to make a batter that just falls from the spoon when tapped.
Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Roll out the marzipan into a disk to fit the pan and place it gently on top. Spoon the rest of the batter on top. Smooth the surface, then make a slight hollow in the center so the cake will rise evenly. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and bake for another 11⁄4-11⁄2 hours or until a tester comes out of the cake mixture clean. Be sure to stop before you get to the marzipan. Let cool in the pan before turning out.
Remove the parchment paper, then wrap in wax paper and keep in an airtight container for about three days before serving.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.