Saturday, November 14, 2009

Failproof Family Fruitcake

I am somewhat appalled to see that I have allowed such a huge amount of time to lapse since my last post. It's not that I haven't baked, stirred, nibbled and sipped. More that I haven't taken as much pleasure in cooking, rarely bother to create anything exciting for myself and, I confess, my head space has been filled with coping with the changes that life tends to throw at one.

Today however something stirred within me. It is rather complicated and involves the acceptance of numerous changes and the excitement, rather than terror, that they have brought. More specifically though, I awoke early this morning to a howling gale and torrential rain and craved nothing more than to be enveloped in the comforting fug that is
created by the baking of a spiced fruit cake to be shared with family. A warming glow to dispel the chill of Autumn and wonderful aromas of nutmeg and ginger to counter those of damp leaves. And the knowledge that a cake still warm from the oven will be gratefully received by my sister and her family.

This is an inexcusably simple recipe for which I make no apology. Sometimes the simplest things in life really are the best, something I increasingly realise the older I get. In its original version I believe this cake hailed from Delia Smith however it has subsequently been tweaked by my mother and then by me. It has become the default Wilkinson fruit cake of choice and on a wet November day, the very tonic for every ill.

Wilkinson Fruit Cake (and no, that isn't my new nickname!).
10oz mixed dried fruit
2oz glace cherries
4oz muscavado or soft brown sugar
4oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4pt water
juice and zest 1 orange
1 medium egg
8oz self-raising flour*
1/4tsp each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice

1. Preheat oven to 150C/gas mark 2.5. Grease a 7" round cake tin.
2. Place fruit, cherries, sugar, butter, water, juice and zest in a saucepan and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
3. Allow to cool then add the beaten egg. Stir in the flour and spices.
4. Turn into the cake tin and smooth the surface.
5. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 1.5 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

*if you only have plain flour, you can convert it into self-raising by adding 2-3 teaspoons of baking powder for every 250g/9oz plain flour used.


Peter Newman-Legros said...

Ah heaven, or rather heavens!! A new blog entry. Hip hip hooray! And fruitcake...yum! Not something readily available here in la belle France but a thing of beauty nevertheless and the cake looks mighty fine too. Mwah mwah mwah. I look forward to more fruity writings soon and often. XXX

Anonymous said...

it is good to see you blogging again.
I like the quirky twist to our family name - perhaps we ARE all fruitcakes!

i have never used the recipe for a Christmas cake, but you are right - simple is good in a season of too much scrumptiousness.