This incredible dark fruit cake recipe is adapted from Queen Delia – food deity and fountain of all culinary knowledge. I trust her implicitly with all things Christmas – having fawned over her Christmas cookbook as a child, begging Dad to make her infamous sticky toffee pudding and off-the-charts-rich chocolate torte with amaretto biscuit base. He did, of course, oblige and on each occasion these treats graced our table I glutted until my little tummy was bursting. Thankfully, I have since, at least to some degree, found my self-restraint.
This wonderfully rich fruity cake is the perfect Christmas treat to have on standby for when visitors drop in for a cup of tea or an evening bevvy. Or don’t share it, because a thick slice topped with cold salted butter and a dollop of blackberry jam is just what you need after a hard day jostling with busy Christmas shoppers – if you need any excuse at all!
900g dried fruit of your choice, but I use:
– 200g glace cherries
– 170g dried apricots
– 140g prunes
– 490g sultanas/raisins
225g plain flour – gluten free flour works perfectly well too
225g soft dark brown sugar
1 dessert spoon black treacle
50g chopped nuts – almonds or walnuts
100g whole almonds for top of cake
Citrus zest of one whole fruit
mixed spice (1/2 tsp)
nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
mixed peel (50g – only use 440g sultanas if using this)
The night before you are ready to make the cake, chop the dried fruit and soak, covered, overnight in the brandy (12 hours minimum).
When you are ready to make the cake, pre-heat your oven to 140C and line your cake tin with good quality grease-proof paper.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt (and spices if using). Add in the sugar, eggs, treacle and soft butter and beat with an electric whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Next, gradually fold through the soaked fruit, chopped nuts, and any optionals you are adding.
Once everything is well combined, pour into your lined cake tin, making sure the mixture is spread out evenly. Place the whole almonds in intervals across the surface of the cake in a neat pattern.
Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 hours. Once you have removed the cake from the oven, cool it in the tin for 30 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with chopped fruit and nuts, orange slices and a dusting of icing sugar.
Marzipan and icing – although this is more of a wedding cake to me.
Tea, obviously. Unless it’s after midday in which case anything from the top shelf!