Sunday, 17 July 2011

Light fruit cake

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.



Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

there is a serious stigma about fruit cake isn't there...but sometimes a lighter version does work... I did the same thing in a muffin and just changing the recipe slightly makes it more acceptable!

Gloria said...

This sounds delicious, love it! gloria

Kate@katescakesandbakes said...

I think fruit cakes do get tossed aside in favour of their glitzy, fashionable cupcake-cousins. But, this is the cake that gets to form the sweet centrepiece of Christmas! No cupcake can take away from that! This recipe reminds me a little of the the Welsh Bara Brith- a lovely, lovely tea-fruit-cake type cake.

Nora said...

I've never heard of a Manor House cake (I don't if that is a good or bad thing!) but I love a fruit cake and don't understand why it gets such a bad press. And this looks like a lovely one - just the thing to have with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon. :D

C said...

I don't understand the hatred of fruit cakes - a light fruit cake is rather delicious. I'm not a fan of heavy, Christmas cake style fruit cakes, but something a little lighter is sometimes just what you want. This one looks lovely.

The other SBC that it's difficult to reproduce is a malt loaf. Soreen just do it so well....

Beth (Jam and Clotted Cream) said...

I love a good fruit cake and this one looks ideal for summer...

Jo said...

Ooh I do like a light fruit cake, perfect for a sunday cuppa. My Granny used to make lovely fruit cake, she put glace cherries in it too.

Anne said...

Oh I am so glad you have posted up a lovely fruit cake recipe and I understand your hesitation!

My dearest hates dried fruit (freak haha), but I was bought up on fruit cake (including the odd manor house!) and miss it so much! My mum does make a fabulous one using an old good housekeeping recipe but need to find my own ;-) Looks delicious!

sevde said...

I follow you from Turkey ...
A delicious cake

Maggie said...

A delicious cake and reminds me of my Nan, who used to make this.

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

It looks lovely! I blow hot and cold with fruit cake, but would possibly make this one. Maybe in a baking tin?

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Oh this seems similar to my recipe at home; except mine doesn't use tea which, I think, would be a lovely addition! Your fruit cake looks DELICIOUS. Sultanas are so yummy..and are most welcome in my tummy thanks in the form of a light fruit cake (dark doesn't do a thing for me!)

Cakelaw said...

Me, I love a fruit cake, nd the light ones with the tea soaked fruit are a winner. Love the sugar encrusted top - mmmm!!

Choclette said...

Full on Christmas cakes do not really do it for me, but this sounds very tasty. A good light fruit cake is one of my favourite things, but I've not yet found a recipe that I'm happy with. Will have to try yours.

Lucy said...

I love fruit cake so to me this looks like a fabulous way to eat it at a time other than Christmas! It's a classic and it's delicious :)

Micah said...

Nice stuff! Keep up the work on posts like this....enjoyed it.

Hazel said...

Love the tea addition. Sounds like a treasure of flavours indeed! Perfect for afternoon tea, without being too heavy (that's just for Christmas time!)

Pauline said...

I know exactly what you mean ! Have sucumbed to it too...Ha! But yours will always taste better. I guess dried fruit is taking a back seat now we have freezers, air delivered fruits readily available in supermarkets not the world our grandparents lived in where dried fruit was a store cupboard necessity.