JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Foolproof and easy fruit cake

Years ago, long before I was married, I decided to make a Simnel cake for Easter. I spent ages looking for the recipe, which I never found. I can't remember now whether or not I made the cake, but I clearly remember the frustrating search. I was too idiotic to realise that Simnel cake can be any fruit cake recipe you want - it's all in the decoration, the 11 balls of marzipan signifying the 11 true disciples, a Scripture lesson of a cake, the betrayal of Judas plain for all to see.

This particular fruit cake was the first recipe my mother-in-law ever gave me, the first or second time I met her. It's in my ancient manuscript cookery book as Lady C's easy fruit cake.

It's well named: no beating the butter and sugar, wondering if you've got enough air into the mixture; no fear of sunken fruit. You just lob the fruit, sugar and butter into a saucepan, heat it up with some water, add flour, eggs and spice - and you're done. I'm giving it as I wrote it down, the instructions and ingredient list in one.

Oh, I'm afraid it's in a curious mixture of imperial and British teacups, but this is a forgiving recipe, and where it says cup, feel free to use a slightly smaller US cookery cup measure. If you're nervous, let me know, and I'll translate it into metric.

Another thing - this is a quick and easy, make-it-at-the-last-minute sort of fruit cake - delicious, but not one to make ahead or keep until your granddaughter's christening. Good enough to dress up for a party, easy enough to make for cricket teas.

Boiled fruit cake

I use a 9" round tin for this; otherwise I double it and put it into three large loaf tins (it freezes well).

6 oz Flora
1 cup of sugar
1 lb dried fruit
1 cup water

spice (2 tsp mixed spice is what I generally use, unless I forget)

Cool (I never have, but then it needs less time in the oven)

Beat in (in this order):
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg

Bake at 150C / 300F for 2 hours. Start testing after an hour if you didn't cool the mixture.

Over the years, I've made this in many many different combinations. I like to make it plain with sultanas. This time, it's a superfood health mix of cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and Goji berries. It's in the oven now, and tomorrow I'll decorate it with the pistachio marzipan I made a couple of days ago.

Related posts

Extra-fruity golden cake

Links to other blogs

Sunshine fruit cake
David Lebovitz's Chocolate cherry fruitcake
A more elaborate Simnel cake


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think you could do a whole cookbook on fruit cakes!

Massimo said...

I'm intrigued by the recipe, but what is flora?

Joanna said...

Massimo, sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you to tell you that Flora is a type of soft margarine marketed as being heart-healthy


Massimo said...

Don't worry I figured it out. Have a nice Easter