Nonna Leah’s boiled fruit cake
MAKES 1 CAKE
Loaded with dried fruit, which gives it a lovely colour and helps to keep it nice and moist, this cake is the bomb. My Mum has been baking this fruitcake at Christmas for as long as I can remember – in fact, when I was living overseas I insisted she send me the recipe so I could make it for Christmas myself. She duly did, faxing the page over to me (this was 2001) straight from her original recipe book, complete with measurements in pounds and ounces and handwritten notes and corrections.
60 g (2 oz/1/4 cup) unsalted butter
250 ml (8 1/2 fl oz/1 cup) milk
110 g (4 oz/ 1/2 cup) raw sugar
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) mixed dried fruit (my Mum uses mixed peel, glacé cherries, sultanas (golden raisins) and dates)
50 g (1 3/4 oz) walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250 ml (8 1/2 fl oz/1 cup) dry sherry
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 free-range eggs, beaten
300 g (10 1/2 oz/2 cups) plain wholemeal flour or plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 handful whole almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Grease and line a 22 cm (83/4 in) round cake tin with baking paper.
Add the butter, milk, sugar, dried fruit, walnuts and spices to a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar as you go, then lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then add the sherry, bicarbonate of soda and beaten eggs and mix well. Fold in the flour and baking powder to form a batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, arrange the almonds over the top and bake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
Recipe extract from Mr & Mrs Wilkinson's How it is at Home (Hardie Grant)