February can be a grey and rather miserable month and at this time of year I crave wholesome comfort food. The old fashioned fruit cake we make for the tea rooms definitely satisfies this craving. The dried and glacé fruits are simmered with sherry, butter and sugar until they are plump and glistening, making a moist rich fruit cake. A slice with a cup of tea beside an open fire will cheer up the greyest day in February.
The Best Old Fashioned Fruit CakeCourse: SnackCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
750 grams / 1lb 12 ounces mixed dried fruit
110 grams / 4 ounces dried apricots cut into small pieces
110 grams / 4 ounces glacé cherries quartered
5 fluid ounces / 140 ml sherry
7 fluid ounces 200 ml water
225 grams / 8 ounces butter
165 grams / 6 ounces sugar
110 grams / 4 ounces plain flour
165 grams / 6 ounces self raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
4 large eggs
- Put the dried fruit, apricots and glacé cherries, butter, sugar, sherry and water in a saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat stirring until the butter and sugar melt.
- Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
- When the mixture is cooled stir in the eggs one by one.
- Sieve the flours, spice and bicarbonate of soda and fold in using a metal spoon.
- Grease and line a 9 inch / 23 cm cake tin.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and spread evenly.
- Bake in a moderate oven 180° C / 160° C fan / Gas Mark 4 for approximately 1 ½ hours.
- Leave the cake in the tin until cold.
- Ideally you should keep the cake for at least a week before cutting it, but you can eat it straightaway if you can’t wait.
- Store in an airtight tin and it will keep for several weeks and it will taste even better as it matures.
Another thing that cheers me up at this time of year is the arrival of the Seville oranges in the shops.
These thick skinned sour oranges are only available at this time of year so now is the time to make marmalade. I try and make enough to last the family until next year, so this week I will be very busy.
Next week I will give you my fool proof recipe for marmalade.
Until then ‘Happy Baking!’