24 March 2013

Tins full of fruit cake

Recently I yet again had the good fortune to be offered a piece of my mother-in-law's fruit cake. It is GREAT.

Even the children loved it. She also uses it as her Christmas cake. After you've made it you'll wonder why anyone would bother to use any other recipe. It is easy, cheap and divine. Very moist. Definitely success-in-the-kitchen territory, and it fits with my idea of reasonable cost and reasonable quantities of sugar, butter and eggs for the resulting size of cake.

Knowing it had pineapple in it, I asked her if it was Alison Holst's pineapple Christmas cake. Oh no, she said. It's been around a lot longer than Alison Holst. Her mother had given her the recipe - my husband's grandmother - and mother-in-law herself is almost 82.

So, for the fruit-cake gourmands among you, as well as for those who like a good slab with a good cuppa, here it is. I think I'd double it for a big, traditionally sized Christmas cake. It freezes well.

Old Fruit Cake

Boil together for 3 minutes:-
1 lb (about 500g) mixed fruit - I used cranberries, sultanas and raisins
1 tsp mixed spice - I made it a very, very heaped teaspoon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15oz tin crushed pineapple (a standard 425 g tin)
1 tsp baking soda
4 oz (100g) butter

Let cool a little and mix in well:
2  cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 beaten eggs
A good slosh of sherry (1/3 to 1/2 a cupful)

Bake in 8" (20cm) square tin (papered) at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 to 1/2 hours or until skewer inserted comes out clean (don't overcook!).

Prick when comes out of oven, pour over brandy (I used whiskey as we had no brandy, and mother-in-law tells me rum is fine too. Use two or three capfuls).

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