Rich fruit cake
Rich fruit cakeSubscribe to Sainsbury's magazine
Get your bake on with Nancy Birtwhistle's rich fruit cake recipe
- 1kg mixed dried fruit
- 100g glacé cherries, washed, dried and cut into thirds
- 4 tbsp Cointreau, brandy, sherry or juice from the orange (after zesting)
- 250g soft salted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 250g dark brown soft sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup or black treacle
- 5 medium eggs, beaten
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
This fruit cake will keep for at least 3 months wrapped in a double layer of baking paper and foil, stored in an airtight container
First thing in the morning, put the mixed fruit and cherries in a large bowl and add the Cointreau (or other liquid), stir and cover with clingfilm, then leave until the evening.
In the evening, grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm springform tin (unlike most fruit cakes, a single layer of lining paper is sufficient for this recipe, due to the low slow bake). Preheat the oven to 120°C, fan 100°C, gas ½.
Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until pale, light and fluffy. Add the syrup or treacle and continue to mix. Gradually incorporate the beaten eggs, a little at a time, along with a teaspoon of flour at each egg addition. This helps to prevent the mixture from curdling. When all the egg has been incorporated, gently fold in the rest of the flour, the spices and zests. Finally, fold in the soaked fruits.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, level the top and bake for 9-10 hours. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out without any sticky cake mixture on it.
Leave the cake to go completely cold before carefully removing from the tin
TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAKE
Make the cake in October and store in a tin until Christmas, then cover in marzipan and finish with royal icing. Alternatively, if you prefer a ‘naked’ cake, decorate the cake with 150g lightly toasted whole nuts. Gently heat 2 tbsp apricot jam and 2 tbsp brandy in a small pan and pass through a sieve. Cool slightly, brush on top of the cake and decorate with the nuts, then brush over more of the glaze.
RICH FRUIT LOAF
Make up half of the recipe (use 3 eggs) and divide between 2 x 450g lined loaf tins, then bake for 4-5 hours. These fruit loaves will keep well in a tin (although I often give one to a friend) and a slice is delicious with cheese. EACH LOAF SERVES 6-8 V
MINI CHRISTMAS CAKE GIFTS
Make a full quantity of the cake and bake in a lined 23cm square cake tin for 7-8 hours (the mixture is slightly shallower in a square tin). Store until Christmas, then cut into 9 squares, brush with 200g warmed and sieved apricot jam and cover each one in marzipan (2 x 454g packs) and ready-to-roll icing (1 x 1kg pack). Decorate with stars cut out of the icing (stick them on with a little cooled boiled water brushed on the underside) and tie a wide ribbon around the sides (you’ll need 3m in total).
MAKES 9 V
‘This is so easy to make, you’ll never buy a fruit cake again. I bake it “low and slow” so the finished cake is really moist. You don’t even need to “feed” it with alcohol, although feel free to do so if you like that boozy hit!’