Monday, 25 June 2012

Boiled Fruit Cake Recipe

This is a picture of the cake that I baked on Saturday afternoon for Papa Bear to take to work for his tea breaks this week.  I usually bake him fruit shortcakes (which are not the same thing at all) and no, I have not forgotten that I promised to share the recipe for them, too!  But today I thought I would post this recipe for you.  This is such a useful cake to be able to make.  It is not difficult, but turns out like a beautiful, moist, less dense and spicy version of a traditional Christmas cake.  In fact, as it keeps so well, you could indeed use it as a Christmas cake instead of the richer recipe that is normally used, although it probably won't need to be baked quite as far in advance as the traditional version (which at Christmas, with everything else that is going on, is not necessarily such a good thing!) as it is not as rich (and contains no alcohol).  I don't usually frost or decorate this cake in any way.  It travels better in a lunchbox just as it is and is not too sweet or fancy, which is just what Papa Bear prefers.  I do tweak the recipe just a little though, in the same way that I do for Christmas cake, as everyone in our family loves glace cherries, so I tend to reduce the amount of other dried fruit I put in, and increase the amount of glace cherries accordingly (don't boil any glace fruits you choose to use, as this will spoil the texture of them.  They are added afterwards with the rest of the other ingredients).  You can do the same with other dried fruits, as you wish - or use just sultanas or rasins if you prefer to make it even plainer. But here is the original recipe ...

You will need (this is an English recipe, so you will need to get your weighing scales out).

For the fruit mixture ...

4 oz brown sugar
8 oz margarine or butter (I always use margarine)
1 lb mixed dried fruit (I use 12 oz mixed dried fruit)
2 tsp mixed spice (do use this, and not apple pie spice, on this occasion)
1/2 pint milk
For the cake ...

4 oz glace cherries (I double this measurement)
2 eggs, beaten
2 oz chopped walnuts
12 oz self rising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda (not baking soda)

1.  Start by preparing a standard 2lb loaf pan by greasing the inside and then lining with greasproof paper or baking parchment.  I have some special pan liners that are shaped just right to fit into a loaf pan, and it means the cake can stay inside the liner even after it has cooled.  You may also need to cover the cake with greaserpoof paper or foil while it bakes to stop it from becoming too brown.  I use foil as in a fan oven, greaseproof paper tends to get blown off and float all around the oven while the cake bakes!

2.  Place the brown sugar, margarine or butter, 1lb mixed fruit, 2 tsp mixed spice and 1/2 pint milk in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil, then remove immediately and leave to stand for about 30 minutes (longer if you wish).

3.  Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Add the glace cherries (I like to cut them in half - it is much easier to do this with scissors than with a knife).  Then add the nuts and stir well.

4.  Add the eggs, all at once, and mix these in thoroughly. 

5.  Add the flour, all at once, and mix this in too.

6.  Turn the mixture into your prepared pan, and place in the centre of a moderately low oven (160 degrees or gas mark 3).  Leave to bake for approximately 2 hours - in our fan assisted oven this was done to perfection at 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I would recommend checking for doneness with the point of a knife after one hour and thereafter every 15 minutes or so, to avoid it burning or becoming too dry (it won't sink, as it is more robust than a sponge cake).  The cake is done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean with no mixture sticking to it.

7.  When done, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool (remove cake from pan immediately).

As I said above, I tend not to decorate this cake as we like it just as it is, but after it has cooled you could of course brush it with melted apricot jam and decorate with flaked almonds or more dried fruits, or even do this and then cover it with marzipan and frost it with royal icing just as you would a Christmas cake.  But we think it is lovely with no embellishments at all - other than a cup of tea, of course!