July 27th, 2021
This last month has been a mixture of emotions. We said goodbye to our dear Nana Ngaire a few weeks ago, with our close family gathered together for her last days (some had travelled from overseas and only just made it out of quarantine in time). We grieved her passing together, while also celebrating her incredible life and the connection she brought to our extended family. You can read a special obituary from the Nelson Mail here.
I wrote a little more about Nana and our close relationship here. I have shared before that she taught me how to cook at a young age, which had a huge influence on my life and subsequent career path. This was a tumultuous time in my family life when my parents were separating and our cooking sessions together bought a much-needed sense of stability. Just one example of how much she cared and always wanted the best for us.
I am sharing this recipe today because of course, Nana loved fruit cake. And also it just feels like the right time of year to eat a dense cake like this. This cake is from my 2020 Recipe Calendar and after several requests for the recipe recently (the calendar sold out a few years ago), it seemed the perfect time to share it here. Happy baking, and keep warm and dry!
Mid-Winter Fruit Cake
This fruit cake is similar to a Christmas cake, however, with winter being the time of year we crave heavier foods and warming spices I much prefer making this in the cooler months. The dense cake keeps well in a cake tin for many weeks and makes the perfect winter afternoon pick me up with a cup of tea. The technique for this fruit cake involves boiling the dried fruit rather than soaking which results in a very moist and dense cake.
- 2 oranges, juice and zest
- 600 g dried fruit - figs, prunes, raisins, currants, apricots – larger fruit roughly chopped
- about 3/4 cup boiling water
- 100 g butter
- 1/2 cup (75g) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups (220g) plain white flour*
- ½ cup (75g) wholemeal flour*
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup blanched almonds
- Optional addition: 100g dark 70% chocolate, roughly chopped
- *gluten-free use 2 cups gluten-free flour mix.
Remove the zest from the oranges and place in a large saucepan. Juice the oranges and measure the amount of juice in a measuring jug topping up with boiling water to make a total of 1 ½ cups. Add to the pan along with the dried fruit, butter and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit softens. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Generously grease and line a 22cm baking tin with baking paper.
Add the eggs to the saucepan one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the flours, baking powder, spice and salt and fold into the mixture along with the blanched almonds and chopped chocolate if using.
Scoop into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 1 ¼ hours minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top begins to brown cover with a piece of baking paper to prevent burning.
Cool the cake in the tin. Once cool, place into a cake tin lined with baking paper and cut small slices to enjoy with a hot cuppa on these cold winter days. Store in a cool pantry and consume within 3 weeks.
*Recipe from my Homegrown Kitchen 2020 Recipe Calendar.