My mother dispenses rather unusual yet excellent advice. She once told me “Never learn how to bake”. I consider myself a competent cook but I am a lousy baker, probably because of this advice.
However, I do want to share this relatively healthy and oh-so-delicious fruit cake recipe with you. After all, despite my patissière short-comings, if I can successfully bake the following fruit cake recipe time and again, so can you!
N.B. Originally an English recipe, some words are British-English and the measurements are metric; where appropriate, as indicated by italics in parentheses, some words and measurements have been translated for the benefit of my American readers.
- 750g (3 cups) roughly chopped mixed dried fruit, e.g. raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, figs, morello cherries.
- 175g (6 oz) unsalted butter
- 200g (7 oz) sugar
- The zest and juice of an orange and a lemon
- 100ml (3½ oz) brandy
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 85g (3 oz) ground almonds
- 85g (3 oz) chopped nuts
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 dessertspoon (3 tsp) each of cinnamon and nutmeg
- 200g (7 oz) of plain flour
If using larger fruit such as prunes, dates, apricots or figs, cut them into quarters using a decent pair of kitchen scissors.
Grease the loaf tin (loaf pan) all over using a little butter on kitchen towel (kitchen roll) and line the bottom of it with greaseproof paper (wax paper).
Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zest + juice and brandy in a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes or so.
Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F) – or 130°C (265°F) if you have a fan-assisted oven.
Stir the eggs, nuts and almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the mixture and stir gently until no traces of the flour can be seen.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and shake it gently until it all settles down.
Bake for 45 minutes and then turn the heat down to 140°C (285°F) – or 120°C (250°F) for fan-assisted oven. Cook for a further hour.
Insert a skewer or knife into the middle to see if the cake is done. The skewer should come out clean.
When the cake is cool, carefully run a knife around the edge and tip out onto a board.
The cake will keep for a long time if you wrap it in aluminium (aluminum) foil.
- If you are in the U.S., Trader Joe’s has a great selection of dried fruit and nuts at reasonable prices
- Buy the cheapest possible brandy – my bottle cost $11, and although I wouldn’t use it in a cocktail, it’s fine for cooking.
- I like to double the quantities when I make this recipe – it really does keep very well, especially if you store it in the fridge!
- I’ve been known to substitute 2 generous spoonfuls of apple butter for the orange and lemon, and it’s delicious!
Mmm… I’m as nutty as a fruit cake…