This gorgeous cake is one of my family’s Christmas highlights. It is something different, and must be one of the best cakes in the world. My mother got the recipe from a neighbour who got it from the mother of the GI who was billeted on her during the war. I’ve juggled the amounts of fruit slightly to make it even better, so feel free to change it to suit your own taste – and the availability of more exotic items. Use best, home-made marzipan and icing to complete the treat.
120g (4 oz) glacé pineapple 240g (8 oz) plain flour
175g (6 oz glacé) apricots 60g (2 oz) cornflour
60g (2 oz) glacé cherries pinch salt
60g (2 oz) crystallised ginger 1 level tsp. baking powder
60g (2 oz) citron peel tiny pinch mixed spice
30g (1 oz) angelica 3 eggs
30g (1 oz) blanched almonds 1 tsp. lemon juice
30g (1 oz) walnuts 2 tsps. brandy
240g (8 oz) butter ¼ tsp. almond essence
150g (5 oz) caster sugar 4 tbls. sherry-and-water
a 18-20cm (7-8 inch) diameter, deep cake tin
First prepare your cake tin: grease it and line it with a double thickness of greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar to pale and fluffy in a large mixing bowl.
Chop the nuts roughly. Cut the angelica into thin slivers. Cut all the fruit to the size of half a cherry, coating the sticky fruit with some of the flour – it will look like a bowl of multi-coloured Turkish Delight!
Sift the remaining flour with the other dry ingredients. Beat in the eggs, one by one, adding some of the flour mixture with each egg to prevent curdling. Beat well.
Then stir everything together, adding the lemon juice, brandy, almond essence and sherry-and-water as you go. Set the oven to gas 3, 170°C and have a shelf half way up.
Turn the cake mixture into the prepared tin and hollow the mixture very deeply with a metal spoon. It sounds ridiculous, but as you hollow the mixture, your spoon should touch the bottom of the tin.
Put into the oven and immediately lower the heat to gas 2, 160°C.
Bake exactly 2 hours. The cake should be a pale golden brown only and have shrunk very slightly around the side. Test with a skewer. Let it sit for at least half an hour before turning it out onto a wire rack.
Store the completely cold cake (still in its greaseproof paper) in an airtight tin until Christmas. Alternatively, you could ice it in advance: it will keep perfectly on a shelf in a cold larder for at least 3-4 weeks.
Mary Whiting, Entertaining Single-Handed, Diatribal Press, 2000