My fruit cake will remain nude this year. No one in my family really likes the marzipan and hard icing so why bother with it? Sure, it looks pretty but why slave over something that everyone is going to discretely pick off and discard on their plate? A paper ruffle and a plastic Santa will suffice!
The great thing about this sort of fruit cake is that you can tailor it to your tastes. For instance, if you loathe glacé cherries, omit them – as long as you maintain the overall weight of fruit in this cake it doesn’t matter what you choose to put in or leave out. I left out the glacé apricots simply because I didn’t have any and increased the amount of raisins, sultanas and currants accordingly. What pleased me with this recipe was the inclusion of dates and prunes – often overlooked in Christmas cakes; as I have a weakness for both they were a most welcome addition!
Here is the mix waiting to go into the tin:
Here is the finished cake - it was a really gloomy day when I took this photo so I needed electric lighting; it seems to have caused some light reflection on the surface for which I apologise.
As this is for Christmas I cannot show you a cut slice yet - I will add a photo of a slice after Christmas. However, by photographing the side and base of the cake, you will get an idea of what it will look like:
Whenever a recipe requires dried fruits to be soaked in alcohol I recommend soaking for as long as possible; my preferred time is 24 hours in advance. I leave the spoon next to the dish and whenever passing stop and give the mix a stir. This seems to work well. Here is all the fruit freshly soaked in brandy glistening like jewels:
Post Christmas update:
The cake has now been cut and eaten so here are some update photos. This is how I served it - very simple indeed!
Here is a cut slice and the cut cake:
140g chopped seeded prunes
125g chopped glacé apricots
110g chopped seeded dates
60g chopped glacé cherries
250g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
200g brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
225g plain flour
75g self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
60ml brandy for brushing on the hot cake
How to make:
- The day before you make the cake, place all the fruit (i.e. the first 7 items on the ingredients list) into a large bowl and pour on the brandy. Cover the bowl and, whenever you think of it, give the fruit a stir so it evenly absorbs the brandy.
- Preheat oven to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/ Gas mark 2 and line either a 19cm square tin or 23cm round tin with greaseproof paper. As the baking time is so long, use two or three layers of paper and make sure that the paper comes up approximately 5cm above the edge of the tin. This protects the cake from burning.
- Beat the butter, lemon rind and sugar in a bowl until well combined.
- Add the honey and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. By the time you reach the final egg the mix may start to curdle a little but don’t worry – nothing bad will happen!
- Stir in the fruit and then stir in the flours and spice.
- Spoon into the cake tin and even the surface.
- Bake for approximately 3 hours or until a skewer comes out cleanly. I’d recommend checking the cake after 2 ½ hours. If the top is colouring too much, put a sheet of baking paper over it. Mine took exactly 3 hours.
- This is where the recipe differs to other fruit cakes you may have made. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, brush on the extra brandy.
- Wrap the cake, still in the tin, tightly in foil. What this does is make the cake extra moist. Leave to cool completely over night.
- The next day, remove the cake from the tin and wrap in fresh greaseproof paper and foil. Keep in an airtight container until you are ready to use.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.