A friend of mine (after a few too many glasses of wine) once infamously shouted out another friend’s wedding ‘no one likes fruit cake!’ just as the bride & groom were about to cut the cake – then promptly flopped out on the table. This prompted two responses: 1. A shout from the cakemaker (also a family relative) ‘It’s actually carrot cake!’ and 2. I was too scared to have fruit cake at my own wedding in case said friend disapproved (we had chocolate brownies instead).
Anyway, I love fruit cake and so did my late father John Hinchcliffe (Co-founder of Hinchcliffe & Barber with my mother Wendy). Today would have been his 65th birthday. Sadly he only made it to 61 but I always try and bake a cake in his memory at this time of the year. Had he been alive, he would taken much pleasure in critiquing it for a long time before eating it – (in his eyes, no one baked quite as well as him, but he loved cakes and sweet things). Then we’d have probably gone for a walk at Ringstead Bay and I would have ordered him lots of Narcissus from St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly. He wasn’t a great present man but he did love the bright yellow of narcissus in January – a sign that Spring would soon be springing in his beloved garden, the inspiration for much of his work, especially his collection of lino prints ‘The Months of the Year’ Collection.
I took a few photos of my bake. The recipe was borrowed & adapted slightly from the Mumsnet website – it’s beautifully simple compared to some fruit cake recipes and tastes delicious (so ticks all the boxes for me!).
- 650g dried mixed fruit
- 3 tbsp brandy (or cherry brandy)
- ½ orange (zest), grated
- ½ lemon (zest), grated
- 215g plain flour
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 175g butter, softened
- 175g sugar
- 3 eggs
- Put the dried fruit, nuts and cherries in a large bowl
- Add the brandy (or use lemon or orange juice) and stir well
- Grease and line a 18cm round or 15cm square tin with a double thickness of grease proof paper
- In another bowl cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, lemon/orange zest, flour and spice and mix well
- Fold in the fruit and nuts and mix until well combined
- Spoon into the prepared tin and level off the mixture
- Bake in a preheated oven 150’C/Gas mark 2 for around 3 hours
- Turn the oven down slightly for the last 30 minutes, if the cake starts to get too brown
- Test if the cake is cooked by sticking in a sharp knife or skewer, if it comes out clean then the cake is cooked
- Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack