This cake is one I’ve adapted from another recipe and is one I’ve made often. It has never failed me, so I call it my Easy Peasy Fruitcake, as is just that: so easy peasy to make. It keeps wonderfully, and is my husband’s favourite. Another reason I like this recipe is because it’s readily adaptable to whatever I have in the store cupboard, weights don’t have to be too precise, and the ingredients can be changed to suit. It makes a fabulous Christmas cake, and doesn’t call for any fancy equipment or culinary skills to make it.
So… aprons and wooden spoons at the ready, here we go!
500-700 gm of dried fruits (ie sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, glacé cherries) in any combination. I often include some or all of the following: chopped dates and/or chopped dried apricots, chopped apple, extra cherries. Even some chopped crystalised ginger. Use whatever you want or have in the store cupboard. For an occasion cake, ie Christmas, I like to use a bag of brandy-soaked dried fruits (this also saves on the soaking part of the recipe – see below). Lidl supermarket does an excellent one, with any left over added to good-quality vanilla ice-cream. Yummy!
If using dried fruits, a day or two before you want to make, soak the fruits in approx 4 fluid ounces/1 wine glass of whatever liquid of your choice, be it brandy/sherry/whisky or cold tea, or apple or orange juice. Or, if you prefer, put your dried fruit into a large saucepan with water, bring to boil stirring gently, then turn off heat, cover and leave in the saucepan to steep for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. Note: You will be using this saucepan to make the cake.
3½ oz sugar – Any sort, be it white granulated, demerara, dark, vanilla sugar – the choice is yours. Each will give it its own flavour but sugar is sugar no matter in what form. Experiment. Because you can use what you have without having to buy specific ingredients is another reason this cake is so easy.
3 oz butter (salted or unsalted)
6 oz self-raising flour and 1 oz ground almonds (optional) or 7 oz of flour if not using almonds.
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
1 tsp mixed spice and 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or any combination) or leave out entirely
Grease a 8 inch loose bottom cake tin, be it round or square, or a 1lb loaf tin. Or, as I do, line the tin with two paper cases.
Into a large saucepan place soaked fruit including any remaining liquid. Add butter and sugar and on a low heat gently bring up to the boil and stirring occasionally, simmer for 2-3 minutes, ensuring butter and sugar have dissolved. Take off heat and leave to cool while you measure out the other ingredients, lightly beat the two eggs and put the kettle on to make a cup of coffee or tea to enjoy whilst fruit mixture is cooling.
Ensuring mixture is cool enough, gently fold in flour, ground almonds if using, and eggs. If mixture is too warm, the eggs will scramble. Stir to combine thoroughly. Mixture should be of a dropping consistency. If too stiff add a little milk and stir. If too runny, stir in another ounce of flour.
Transfer to cake tin and bake in centre of oven at 200C/180C Fan or Gas Reg 6 for approx 45–65 mins (depending on your oven and type of tin used). Test the centre with a skewer or knife after 45 mins. It needs to come out clean, if not pop cake back in oven and test again after 10 mins. Continue until cake is cooked. If it is darkening too much on top, cover the tin with a ring of tin foil.
Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10–15 mins before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
When completely cold, put in a tin and hide it from the family as this cake is best left for at least a day or two before eating.
Feed over a period of weeks with brandy, whisky or sherry if required for a special occasion and/or covered in marzipan and icing.
Although I haven’t tried it yet, this mixture can be cooked in bun tins to make smaller cakes but the cooking time will need to be adjusted.I do hope you try this cake, and do please let me know what you think.