With Easter coming up I shall have a houseful of people to feed. My easy Boiled Fruitcake is a wonderful treat to serve with a cup of tea, or heated as a dessert with fresh cream, custard or ice-cream. Even non-cooks can make this cake!
I love this recipe because I can whip it up with ingredients I have in the pantry. It keeps well, and freezes well too. (The picture above also shows a batch of my Lemonade Scones, to which I added some dates and lemon rind. Sorry, no tablecloth the day this picture was taken – we’d been out mustering cattle and were all a bit grubby for fancies.)
1.2kg mixed dried fruit (you can buy this as a bag of mixed fruit but I rather like using what is to hand), 250g butter – cubed, 1 and 1/4 cups water if using pre-packaged mixed fruit, 2 cups of water if using a combination where the fruit looks quite dry, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or vinegar of your choice), 2 tablespoons rum or brandy, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Almonds and/or cherries to decorate if desired. *Note – if you wish, substitute strong tea for the alcohol, and gluten-free flour instead of plain flour
Place your mixed fruit into a large saucepan. (For this cake in the picture I used 200g of dried peaches finely chopped, 100g of goji berries, 400g of dates and 500g of sultanas and a handful of chopped pecans as that was the fruit I had to hand. The gojis, dates and peaches were very dry so the extra water was needed!) Add the chopped butter, water and Bicarb Soda and bring to the boil, stirring often so nothing sticks to the bottom. When it has begun to boil turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. This takes a few hours and plumps up all the fruit beautifully.
After cooling it should look like this, with nice juicy fruit pieces.
When the mixture has cooled preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius – you want a slow oven so the cake cooks through thoroughly without burning or drying out. Prepare a large round or square tin by lining it with baking paper, or choose two or three smaller tins. (I used three for this batch as I wanted to eat one, give one away, and have one to keep.)
While the oven is heating, add your condensed milk, vinegar, alcohol and vanilla, stirring well. Just mix it straight into the big saucepan. That way you only have one pot to wash up! The mixture will foam a little – don’t panic, this is normal. Then sift your flour, baking powder and spices into the mixture and stir through until combined. Taste the raw batter and adjust spices if necessary. You mixture will be thick and you’ll need a strong arm.
Spoon the mixture into the tin or tins. Wet your hand and then press down lightly on the mixture to smooth it out and make the tin evenly filled, ensuring the mix is pressed in well into the corners.
You may then decorate the top with almonds or cherries if you wish. Place in the oven and follow the baking times below, using a skewer to test of the cake is done about ten minutes before the time is up. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if mixture still adheres to the skewer bake a little longer.
3 x 8cm by 25cm tins – bake for 50 minutes to one hour
2 x 12cm x 23cm loaf tins – bake for one hour and twenty minutes
1 x 24cm square tin – bake for two hours
When you pull the cakes from the oven pour a capful of extra rum or brandy over the top while the cake is still warm. Then leave them to cool in their tins before removing.
These ones are the date and goji fruit mixture I described in the method above, using rum. They are rich and dark and divine:
And this batch was predominantly sultana, cherries and a little mixed peel with brandy, which gave a lighter texture and flavour:
These make great gifts, and the flavour is good enough to use them as a traditional Christmas Cake. Enjoy! ♥