I've been exploring fruit cake recipes recently, in search of the wonderfully moist and fruit-laden version that I remember from my childhood. To my surprise, actual recipes are a little thin on the ground, and I've found I've had to cast my net quite wide. I found one flourless version from New Zealand which involved soaking all the fruit in quantities of Orange Juice, and which emerged from the oven looking like a large muesli bar (although, to be fair, it tasted better than it looked) ; another one which included vast amounts of demerara sugar, and which used mincemeat rather than dried fruit - the end result was light and delicious, but was consumed in its entirety in twenty minutes flat! There was a recipe from the Scottish Tourist Board which - rather pointlessly, I thought - included a couple of tablespoons of whisky, and the end result was good, but somehow a little two-dimensional. And then, there's this one. Seriously delicious - and with the unexpected bonus of a layer of white marzipan in the centre, which really kicks the whole thing up into a class of its own....
One of the problems I have with these cakes is the patience required to let them mature sufficiently in order to do themselves justice. This one really does need three days minimum - if you broach it any earlier, then the cherries are somehow just cloyingly sweet, and the cake itself hasn't yet acquired the general moistness that a good fruit cake should have. Leave it for three days, though, and it is stellar!
Makes one cake, 8" in diameter.
Ingredients:8 oz Plain Flour; 1.5 teaspoons of Baking Powder; 6 oz unsalted Butter; 6oz Muscovado Sugar; 4 Eggs; 2 oz Ground Almonds; 12oz mixed Dried Fruit; 4 oz halved Glacé Cherries; 1.5 tablespoons Milk; 8 oz White Marzipan; 1.5 oz Flaked Almonds.
1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Sift the Flour with the Baking Powder, and put to one side.
3. With a hand beater, cream the Butter with the Sugar, then beat in the Eggs, one by one. With each of the last two Eggs add a tablespoon of sifted Flour.
4. Fold into the creamed mixture the Flour & Baking Powder, along with the Ground Almonds.
5. Into this mixture, fold the Dried Fruit and Cherries, then mix in the Milk. It should be the right consistency just to drop gently from an upturned spoon.
6. Grease an 8" false-bottomed cake tin, and spoon half of the cake mixture into the tin. Roll the Marzipan into a circle the same diameter as the tin, and place it on the cake mixture in the tin; spoon the remainder of the mixture over the top and sprinkle the surface with the Flaked Almonds.
7. Bake half an hour in the pre-heated oven, then reduce the temperature to 170 degrees C, and bake for a further hour and a half.
After removing from the oven, leave it to cool completely, then turn it out and keep it in an airtight container for three days before cutting into it.
Enjoy - it is sensational!