This is a delightful and easy cake to produce, and we have added it to our repertoire of dairy-free and egg-free cakes (two others can be found in our book). The present recipe came from the web but has undergone some changes, and there’s plenty of room for further adaptation.
As long as you include some 600 g dried fruit, the proportions of each fruit and the fruit itself can be varied, dried cranberries or blueberries replacing some of the sultanas, raisins, or currants, for instance. You can be as generous as you like with the (dark or light) glacé cherries and the peel, the latter being better quality when not pre-chopped. You may also want to add more or less of one of the spices, all a matter of taste.
Lard, incidentally, is the traditional fat for fruit cakes, according to The Constance Spry Cookery Book. A vegetable fat is obviously a viable option (we are anyway speaking of only 45 g – one and a half ounces – of which 15 g is for greasing the mould).
This type of cake usually improves with keeping, but I’ve not yet been able to test this!
- 45 g lard or vegetable fat
- 150 g candied peel and glacé cherries
- 1 lemon
- 360 g plain flour
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice (quatre-épices in you’re in France)
- 240 g soft brown sugar
- 240 g sultanas
- 240 g raisins
- 120 g currants
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C.
Prepare the tin first, greasing it inside with approx 7 g lard or vegetable fat before lining it with paper to 2 cm above the sides and brushing the paper with another 7 g or so melted lard or vegetable fat.
Chop the peel, if necessary, and the glacé cherries, and grate the rind of the lemon.
In a mixing bowl, sift in the flour, a good pinch of salt, and all the spices. Rub in the remaining 30 g lard or vegetable fat and incorporate the sugar.
In a second bowl, mix together the dried fruit, peel, glacé cherries, and lemon rind, before incorporating the fruit mixture thoroughly into the flour. Make a well in the centre and blend in 280 ml cold water.
In a small bowl, pour 2 tbsp warm water over the bicarbonate of soda and when the latter has dissolved, work it into the cake mixture with a light touch.
Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake in the centre of the oven. After 1 hr turn the temperature down to gas mark 2–3/160°C for a further hour, or longer if required. Test by plunging a skewer deep into the cake: it should come out clean.
Turn the cake out of the tin when it is cool enough to handle and see how long you can keep people off it.