Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fruit Cake Recipe

I seem to be in a food and drink phase lately. Hardly surprising considering the season, I suppose. Anyway to maintain the leitmotif here's another. Several readers have commented on or requested the recipe for the fruit cake I described on Boxing Day. So here it is.

This recipe is from my Mother, the late E.E. 'Frida' Morrow. It’s virtually bulletproof. The cake is very rich and sustaining and I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t loved it. It’s great on cold winter afternoons and evenings and it’s fantastic sustenance when hiking or engaging in other such outdoor pursuits. Indeed it was virtually the official foodstuff of the Mad Dog rally team on last year's Monte Carlo Historique rally and even served as survival rations when Bill and I crashed around midnight just below the summit of the Col de Turini (height 1600 meters) and spent several hours freezing our rear ends off before Jim and Juliette Wirtz rescued us.

In more conventional circumsatances, the cake was served up at high days and holidays; typically Christmas and Easter with birthdays thrown in. It’s very good when covered with layers of marzipan and hard sugar icing. Ideally it should be prepared a couple of months before consumption as it becomes very moist and absolutely delicious when stored in a cool dark place for a period of time. In this time it can be “fed” with sherry or rum according to taste.

•350g (12oz) butter
•150g (6oz) plain flour
•150g (6oz) self-raising flour
•150g (6oz) white sugar
•150g (6oz) soft brown sugar
•6 eggs
•150g (6oz) glacĂ© cherries (chopped Maraschino cherries will do)
•150g (6oz) finely chopped almonds
•225g (8oz) raisins
•450g (16oz) sultanas (golden raisins in the US)
•450g (16oz) currants
• half a teaspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon and nutmeg)
• half a tbsp of vanilla flavoring or powder
• half a glass of sherry, port or rum, to taste
• a small pack of toasted almonds for decoration (optional)

Beat sugar and butter to a thick cream, then add eggs one at a time (do this by hand, electric mixers seem to destroy the texture; if the butter is hard microwave it first). Sift flours and mix plain and self-raising. Add mixed spices and vanilla and sherry/rum. Slowly mix (do not beat) flour to butter then gradually add fruit. I like to decorate the top with whole almonds. Bake slowly, 150°C (300°F) for one hr. and 140°C (275°F) for 2 1/2 hrs. Allow to cool for at least eight hours.

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