I’ve been making this fruit & nut loaf for decades and it still garners new devotees when I serve it up. The top cracks a little, but I don’t worry about that, as it gets nice and crusty and adds to the charm. It’s a good keeper, too.
375g (13 oz) plain flour
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp mixed spice
90g (3 oz) butter
¾ cup brown sugar, sieved if lumpy
½ cup soft dried apricots, chopped
¾ cup currants (or mix it up with golden raisins and currants)
½ cup fresh walnuts, shelled (get rid of as many skins as possible), chopped
6 Brazil nuts, sliced
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 medium (size 6) free-range eggs
1¼ cups milk
Blanched almonds for the top (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), setting a shelf just below the centre of the oven.
2 Sift flour, salt, baking powder and mixed spice together into a large bowl. Cut butter into cubes, then cut it into the dry ingredients with 2 knives, or a pastry blender. Stir through sugar, fruit, nuts and lemon zest.
3 Lightly whisk eggs and milk together and pour into dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed together. Spoon into a loaf tin lined with baking (parchment) paper (tin size approx.: 11cm (4½”) wide x 21cm (8-8½”) long by 6cm (2½”) deep).
4 Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing (if you slice it hot, it will split). Serve sliced with butter on the side.