Sunday, 4 May 2014

Norfolk vinegar cake

There cannot be many words less appealing to see included in the title of a cake than vinegar.  Corned beef perhaps?  Mustard?  Socks?  I think the vinegar is added to turn the milk into a buttermilk i.e. the acidity curdles the milk a little.  Rest assured; the cake does not taste of vinegar…now that would be a tough sell! (Although perhaps not so much to me as I adore vinegar and will put it on virtually any savoury item given the chance – try it on cabbage for a taste sensation; you’ll never look back.)

This is a light fruit cake – it’s not a full on ‘house brick in your stomach’ slab of Christmas cake.  It’s actually like a cross between light fruitcake and bread pudding.  Mr CC is always partial to a light fruit cake so I thought I would make it for him to enjoy over the Bank Holiday weekend.  He did admit he was repelled by the word ‘vinegar’ in the cake’s name but he got past it when a glorious sweet smelling fruit cake emerged from the oven.  My photos probably make it appear over-crumbly because I cut it when it was still slightly warm; normally I bake the day before I cut but couldn’t this time.

Fruit cake has its haters and I can understand that if dried fruit’s not your thing then this is probably not your dream cake, but for me it’s a perfect concoction of cake and fruit, both of which I love.  I also like its unfussy nature – no icings or buttercreams, no fancy preparation and no fancy equipment needed.  It’s the sort of recipe our ancestors would’ve enjoyed and I take comfort in that.  A fruit cake is like a big hug from the past.

It also keeps well.  The only thing better than cake is more cake.  There is nothing as pleasing as having a cake in the tin you can cut from every day until it’s gone and it keeps getting better!  Did I mention it’s a big cake? And egg free, so people with egg allergies can enjoy it too.  Hurray!


450g plain flour
225g unsalted butter
225g golden caster sugar
225g raisins
225g sultanas
275ml milk
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4.

Line a 23cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Place the flour in a bowl and rub in the butter until you have a mix that resembles breadcrumbs.  You can do this in the food processor if you have dexterity issues.

Stir in the sugar, raisins and sultanas.

Measure out the milk then remove one tablespoon of it into a small bowl.

Add the cider vinegar to the larger amount of milk.

Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the tablespoon of milk and ensure it is fully dissolved.

Add to the milk and vinegar mix.  Nothing much will happen initially but then a gentle frothing will occur and the liquid will puff up  - so make sure you’re using a jug that can accommodate some growth!

Add the milk mix to the dry ingredients and stir only enough to combine; don’t over mix.  At first you will think there isn’t enough liquid, but there is and you will end up with a lovely soft cake mix.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for 30 minutes before reducing the oven temperature to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/ 300°F/ gas mark 2.

Bake for a further hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Check the cake after 40 minutes anyway, and if it’s browning too quickly cover loosely with foil for the rest of the cooking time.

Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 30 minutes, or until it is cool enough to safely handle.

De-tin and leave to cool completely.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.



Kate@whatkatebaked said...

Truthfully, when I read the title of this recipe I did furrow my brow thinking "Hmmm...." But you've convinced me! And I do love a cake that keeps giving....

Lucy said...

I was confused when I saw the name of this cake but the photos and explanation convinced me! I love a fruit cake.

Stuart Vettese said...

fruit cakes aren't normally my thang - but I could be tempted with this one CC! And I am going to buy a cabbage tomorrow now - you have me intrigued!!

Gloria Baker said...

Love fruits cakes and this look amazing!

Cakelaw said...

This looks great! I have made a black vinegar cake and it was good.

Katie said...

I've not seen a fruit cake with vinegar in it before. I love light fruit cake and can imagine the vinegar will help level the sweetness of the fruit

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Looks lovely - much lighter than your typical fruit cake. I can just imagine this with a nice cup of tea! :)

snowy said...

Love fruit cakes and this one looks so tasty. Wondered why the vinegar, but you explained, so another one to try.

Jo said...

I love old fashioned recipes like these! If anything they're my favourites - simple, honest and comforting.

I think the only time I've ever used vinegar in a cake was for a red velvet cake recipe (and thankfully it didn't taste of vinegar!)

Kate Glutenfreealchemist said...

I'm not big on fruit cakes, but this one does look light and definitely not as dense and dark as the usual fayre. I use a lot of vinegar in baking! It seems to be much more common in the gluten free kitchen and the milk-vinegar mix often replaces other wet ingredients like butter milk. You can even combine it with dairy free milks to produce dairy-free butter milk!!! Clever vinegar!

Jenny said...

I made this last week for a trip away with my sisters, one of whom has an egg allergy and is sad that she cannot usually eat cake. I took half of the cake with me and left half behind in case my husband needed a treat in my absence. The cake was absolutely delicious...egg-free-sister was thrilled and carried the remainder of our half home with her. My husband declared it the best cake I have ever baked (slightly worrying as I am considered an excellent cake maker) and has finished the half I left at home. Under the circumstances I can't say how long the cake keeps but it is highly recommended!

Deels said...

Dear CC,

I baked this cake today, but divided the mixture into a loaf tin (for a friend whose husband loves fruitcake) & a round cake tin for hubby and myself.

We love how the cakes turned out :) Thank you for a lovely recipe. My question is, what would be the best way to store the cake? Cake tin? Covered in foil? Covered in cling film? Or on a plate with a food cover on top (the net style)? Just thought you might be able to share your experience :) Thanks again CC for a wonderful recipe & great site as ever.

x De

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi De

Glad you enjoyed the cake.

I always store my cakes the same way - in an airtight container (usually tin). I never wrap them.
Even for cakes that need refrigeration, such as cream cakes, I will simply put the tin in the fridge.
Hope this helps
Happy baking

Annie said...

I made this cake today. It's delicious. Such a lovely light fruit cake perfect for summer. Hubby is skeptical about the vinegar but will be convinced once he's tasted it. Many thanks for the recipe :)

Annie said...

I made this cake today. It's delicious. Such a lovely light fruit cake perfect for summer. Hubby is skeptical about the vinegar but will be convinced once he's tasted it. Many thanks for the recipe :)