Fruit cakes remind me of a box of jewels, the kind of gems you would win as a child at a fun fair. It looks like a chest filled with all the ingredients to make a rum-loving pirate happy. It’s an old-fashioned cake suitable for any occasions, especially tea parties. I usually love dreamy cream cakes, but I decided to give my friend Mathieu a chance and rediscover his version of a fruit cake. Mathieu loves baking all sorts of cakes and this happens to be one of his favourite. Rum ‘bathed’ candied fruits and raisins are the key ingredients, soaked for forty-eight hours to get the full flavours.
We had a lovely afternoon tea-time snack, out in the garden with friends and family – perfect summer weather, feeling lazy and happy. The cake turned out beautifully, light, slightly glazed on top with roasted almond flakes. Slicing the cake is the fun part, with all the candied fruits sparkling in the sunshine – it matched my mood and the girls dresses.
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
200 g plain flour (sifted)
100 g caster sugar
125 g butter
1 tsp baking powder
40 g ground almond
1/2 lemon zest
10 g vanilla sugar
150 g mixed candied fruits
100 g candied cherries (halved)
30 g dried dark raisins
Rum (enough to cover the candied fruits)
A handful of flaked almonds
Apricot jam (to spread 15 minutes before the end)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Combine the candied fruits, raisins and rum (enough to cover the fruits) in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for at least 48 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°/180 C. Grease the bottom and sides of a cake mould/ loaf pan with butter and dust all over with ground almond. Tap off excess and set aside.
Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, ground almond and melted butter – mix well. Drain the soaked candied fruits and raisins – reserve rum mixture. Add the reserved rum, candied fruits, halved cherries, raisins and lemon zest to batter. Mix gently. Pour batter in mould, smooth top with rubber spatula and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on cake mould depth. Fifteen minutes before the end of baking time, take out the cake and glaze the top lightly with apricot jam (mixed with 1/2 tsp lemon juice) using a brush (make sure not to break the almond flakes). Continue baking. Insert into the middle of the cake a toothpick – when it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Unmold cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.