This is a boiled fruitcake, which means some of the ingredients are brought to the boil before the whole mixture is baked. The amounts for the dried fruits are flexible – they can be a little less, or changed around to suit your tastes.
My mother, Isabel Hall, first made this cake in a simpler form (i.e. without all the generous quantity of fruit and nuts) during the war years to send to troops overseas. The recipe had been given to her by her mother-in-law when she was first married in 1940.
She rediscovered the recipe and embellished it for my brother’s 21st birthday in 1963. Since then it has become a family favourite. Cooked every Christmas, for special occasions and for wedding cakes for each of the four children in our family. One was even sent to me in England in 1980!
I often double the quantity as I believe if you are going to the effort of making such a cake, you may as well have enough to last. It does have quite good keeping qualities, though it never seems to last long enough in my house for this to be a problem. In times gone by this was known as a one pound cake as it contained one pound of butter. These days I often bake the cake in smaller tins and give them away as gifts.
When I first talked about this cake on radio 2UE in 1988 over 400 people sent in a stamped self-addressed envelope to receive a copy! Now the internet makes it so much easier! Thank you Mum for this recipe and all the love you showed us over the dining table.
Preparation 45 mins.
Cooking 3 hours 10 mins.
500g (3 cups) raisins, chopped coarsely
250g (11/2 cups) sultanas
125g (3/4 cup) currants
125g dates, prunes, apricots or glace cherries
¼ cup (60ml) brandy or rum (or more depending on taste)
250g butter, chopped
1 cup (250ml) water
½ cup (100g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup (110g) white sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs, beaten lightly
1¼ cups (185g) self-raising flour
1¼ cups (185g) plain flour
1 cup (160g) blanched almonds (or more), optional
¼ cup (60ml) brandy, extra
1. Soak the combined dried fruits in brandy overnight at least.
2. Melt butter and water in a large saucepan and add the brandied fruit, sugars and bicarbonate of soda; stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil; remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl, cool.
3. Preheat the oven to slow (140’C/120’C fan-forced). Line the base and sides of a deep 22m round cake pan or a deep 19cm square cake pan with two layers of brown paper and two layers of baking paper bringing the paper 5cm above the edge of the pan.
4. Stir the eggs into the fruit mixture then the sifted flours; spread evenly into the prepared pan. Decorate the top with almonds if desired. Place low in oven and bake in a slow oven for about 3 hours. Test to see if it is coked as it could take longer. (The more fruit there is in this cake, the longer it takes to cook) Brush the hot cake with extra brandy and cover the with foil; wrap in whole layers of newspaper at least until cool. Put on a cake rack so air can circulate underneath without condensation. It will take several hours to cool.