I have never got on with making fruit cakes. The complicated long winded ones always defeat me. I bet if I just was more patient I would succeed but you know what, with two children, two jobs and a hell of a lot of other things to do I want simple, easy and quick. I even once bought a Mary Berry’s Christmas special fruit cake mix in Sainsburys reduced to a fiver and guess what – I got distracted by my youngest trying to get into the cooking cupboard and eat a whole packet of large marshmallows and as a consequence I put the packet of royal icing sugar into the cake mixture instead of the packet of flour! It didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped.
My good friend Barbara shared her recipe with me after I told her my tales of fruit cake woes. I love it and have used it ever since. I would almost go as far to say that it is foolproof. It is how fruit cakes should be, deep, rich, full of fruit and above all else simple to make! For me anyway …
Easy Fruit Cake
Difficulty – If I can do it anyone can do it!
120 grams/4oz margarine
170 grams/6oz Billingtons Molasses Sugar
340 grams/14oz dried fruit – whatever you fancy, raisins sultanas, cherries, peel, prunes, whatever!
225 ml water (you can substitute some water for black treacle for colour and added flavour)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
2 lightly beaten eggs (beat with a fork)
120 grams/4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Grease and line (twice!) an 8 inch round cake tin or you can make a couple of 2lb loaf cakes with this mixture. Just grease the tins and don’t bother lining if loaf tins.
3. Put the margarine, sugar, fruit, water, spice and bicarbonate of soda in a saucepan and over a medium heat bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.
4. Allow to cool.
5. Add your eggs, flour and salt to the mixture and stir well.
6. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes and if it looks like it is browning too much on top, place a piece of brown paper over it.
7. It is cooked when a skewer comes out clean. Check a couple of times in case you have skewered a raisin!
8. Allow to cool and slice or decorate with some marzipan and icing.
This cake is very forgiving! Trust me you can’t go too badly wrong. Well if you do let me know so I can sympathise with a fellow fruit cake battler.
TIP – If you want to add some extra extra flavour pre-soak your fruits in whiskey, brandy or apple juice for a few days. When ready to use, pour any left over liquid into your measuring jug and top up with water and use in the cake.