I was on the horns of a dilemma whether to include this recipe on my site. On the one hand, fruit cake seems to be the most universally loathed category of cake, on the other hand I know that lots of people come to my site or email me asking whether I have a recipe for a Manor House style cake. Now I am as scathing about SBCs (that’s shop bought cakes – it’s bad luck to say it in full) as the next cake connoisseur but I have to admit that Manor House cake is a king amongst paupers.
A light fruit cake is quite a different proposition to the heavy, rich dark cake that surfaces at Christmas. There are times when nothing in the world could be more tasty or comforting than a nice wedge of cake brimming with raisins and sultanas.
I would pitch this particular cake as the midpoint between the full-on Christmas cake and a sponge containing dried fruit.
The fruit is cooked in tea, sugar and butter and ends up looking like a treasure trove of lovely things:
340g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, sultanas and currants)
100g Demerara sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra to sprinkle on top
150ml black tea (I used PG tips)
110g unsalted butter
170g self raising flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
How to make:
Place the fruit, sugar, tea and butter in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.
Place the flour and spices into a large bowl and then stir in the cooled fruit (including the liquid) and the eggs. Work quickly.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Sprinkle the additional Demerara sugar over the surface, if desired.
Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/Gas mark 2.
Cook for a further 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for approximately 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.