Fruit cake is one of those classic bits of baking: like a Victoria Sponge or Bakewell Tart, a fruit cake is a quintessentially English affair. Dense, moist and, most importantly, packed full of dried fruit, the basic fruit cake can be elaborated upon to produce a more seasonal variation – Christmas Cake and Simnel Cake both being pimped up fruit cakes in disguise, while a Tea Loaf and a Brack are more of a pared down affair. Like most baking, they are a tea-time treat, set off best by a pot of Darjeeling or Ceylon and a sit down with friends and family. Although, if you’re super keen, and I know that some really are, then fruit cake is pretty much a free for all, it having the benefit of lasting for quite some time and therefore being fair game whenever the mood takes you.
There are usually a few steps and processes involved in their making: creaming, folding, layering; and that’s where this cake varies – that, and the fact that it’s completely allergy-free! This particular fruit cake is incredibly simple to make and really takes little more than a simmer and a stir before you abandon it to the oven to do its work. By simmering the dried fruit in water, sugar and the necessary margarine, you plump up the fruit to all its sweet glory and allow the cake to stay moist when baked. I would also recommend that you make it the day before you want it, being left only adds to the flavour and allows the outer crust of the cake to soften slightly. Once ready, you then have a myriad of choices: dust with icing sugar (as seen here), drizzle over a Vanilla or Almond Icing or swathe in a layer of marzipan. The choice is yours but I highly recommend you make it for the Easter holiday, it’s just the thing to last you through the long-weekend and provide a little respite from the chocolate bombardment that you may be experiencing. Having said that, if you want chocolate, then I highly recommend these, or indeed, these.
You will need a 7 inch round cake tin with removable base for this recipe
350g mixed dried fruit – I used a combination of sultanas, raisins, cranberries and cherries
100g golden caster sugar
100g dairy-free margarine
4 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water and ¼ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 150c and lightly grease and line the cake tin.
Place the dried fruit, water, caster sugar and margarine in a saucepan and heat over a medium flame, while stirring, until the margarine has dissolved into the liquid. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the ground flaxseed, water and baking powder in a small bowl, stir together and leave to thicken.
Once the fruit has cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Next, place the fruit and liquid into a large mixing bowl, stir in the flaxseed mixture until combined and then quickly stir in the flour until completely mixed through.
Spoon the cake mixture into the tin, level the top with the back of as spoon and then bake for 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, store in an airtight tin until ready to use.