In the Kitchen
Alison's husband Peter is particularly partial to dark fruit cakes. This lovely, moist cake is very fruity and certainly fits the bill. It contains no essences. We like to add a mixture of spices, but we don't use very much of any of these, and you can leave any of them you do not have on hand.
For one 23cm square or round cake:
1/2 cup sherry
rind of 1 lemon
rind of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
250g butter, softened
1 Tbsp treacle
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp each ground allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg
One to two days before the cake is made, put the dried fruits into a plastic bag with the sherry. Turn the bag every now and then. Leave the bag in a warm place until all the sherry has been absorbed by the fruit.
Remove the coloured zest of the lemon and orange with a potato peeler. Add the thinly peeled zest to a food processor and process with the sugar until it is very finely chopped. (If using a cake mixer, finely grate the zest instead). Add butter, process until soft and fluffy then add the treacle and mix again. Add eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of the measured flour between each. Mix the rest of the flour and the spices with the fruit in a very large bowl.
Tip the creamed mixture into the floured fruit, and mix until soft enough to drop from your hand. If the mixture is too dry, add up to 1/4 cup of extra sherry or spirits.
Put the mixture into a 23cm round or square tin lined with greaseproof paper. If you don't intend to ice the cake, decorate top with almonds or cherries.
Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for one hour, then at 140'C for about three hours, until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. If you like, drizzle 1/4 cup rum or brandy over it while it is very hot.
Leave an hour before removing from the tin, then cool completely on a rack before icing (or wiping over the top with lightly oiled paper towels to shine the cherries and nuts).
Wrap loosely in baking paper and store in a cake tin, or, wrap loosely in a large plastic bag (a shopping bag works well) and store in the fridge until required.
- The Dominion Post