At the joint birthday party of Richard King and Sasha-Mir King Smith, at the Quaker Community in Bamford on 2006-05-06, I was bombarded with requests for this fruit cake recipe. It's based on the recipe in "Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery" by Margaret Fulton (Octopus Books, 1985), which also has a good chocolate cake.
My approach to baking is inspired by laziness and convenience. Any recipe which says "gradually" or "a little at a time" or "sifted" tends to get amended to "quickly", "all at once", and "straight from the packet".
This cake takes about 45 minutes of preparation time spread out over two evenings. Start on a Thursday evening to be ready to eat on the Saturday. The baking takes at least 3 hours, so don't leave it too late on the Friday night!
The total weight of cake is about 2 kilos, which is enough to feed maybe 20 in theory, or about five or six in practice.
All amounts approximate, and do substitute freely.
Bung all the fruit and the almonds in a big bowl, add the booze, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight.
Chop the butter into another big bowl, zap in microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Add brown sugar and beat (we have a little electric hand-held Moulinex for this). Add grated lemon rind, marmalade, spices, and five eggs. Beat some more, until well-combined.
Add the flour and stir well, then add the fruit mix, and stir like billy-oh. You will need a strong spoon and a strong arm, both of which can often be borrowed. The original recipe says to add a little at a time and to alternate. Pish. The result should be implausibly dense.
Note: for the cake at Bamford, I only left the fruit for an hour or two before combining, and then left the combined cake mixture in the fridge overnight. The resulting combined mixture was so stiff I had to microwave it for a minute before I could get it into the tin. The effect of this variation on the finished product is unclear.
Find a big tin with a removable bottom. Ours is 21cm diameter, 8cm deep, and was bought specially for this recipe. Line it with two layers of greaseproof paper. Dump in the cake mix. Press it down and smooth it out. Decorate it with some more of the glace cherries, or with whole almonds if you're feeling fancy. Go on, use the cherries. You know you want to.
Gas mark 2 (150 centigrade) for 3 to 3.5 hours (check after three hours). Test with a skewer: if it comes out clean then the cake is done. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in to cool. After an hour or longer (e.g. on the Saturday morning), turn it out onto a rack and peel off any greaseproof paper which adheres. You're done.
Now eat the cake. A bread knife is recommended for cutting.
Caution: Do not leave this cake on a plate at a party and invite guests to help themselves. You will not get any.
Please let me know how it turns out.
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