Looking for an easy-to-make big fruit cake? This is the one.
100g (3½ oz)currants 200g (7 oz) sultanas (or use golden raisins) 100g (3½ oz) pitted prunes, chopped 50g (1¾ oz) mixed peel 2 tsp mixed spice ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 190g (6½ oz) soft brown sugar Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 200ml (about 7 fl oz) porter, stout, or Guinness 175g (6 oz) butter 100g (3½ oz) dark unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped 100ml (about 3½ fl oz) water 300g (10½ oz) high-grade flour Large pinch of salt 1 tsp baking powder 3 medium (size 6) free-range eggs, lightly beaten Topping 70g (2½ oz) slivered almonds 2 Tbsp soft brown sugar ¼ tsp mixed spice ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Put fruit, spices, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and porter in a large stainless steel saucepan and leave for 1 hour (or up to 24 hours), stirring occasionally.
2 Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F), positioning a shelf in the bottom half of the oven. Line the sides and the bottom a 23cm (9”) deep springform cake tin with a double thickness of baking (parchment) paper.
3 Add butter, chocolate and water to fruit mixture and set pan over a gentle heat. Slowly bring to a gentle bubble, stirring often, then lower heat and cook very gently for 10 minutes. Cool.
4 Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir into fruit mixture with beaten eggs. The mixture should be quite sloppy (if you have bubbled it away too fiercely, and the batter is thick and clinging to the spoon, let it down with a little water). Pour batter into tin and smooth the top. Mix topping ingredients together and scatter over the top of the cake, pressing in gently.
5 Bake cake for about 1¼ hours, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean (drape the top of the cake with tin foil if it starts to brown too quickly). Cool cake in the tin for 20-30 minutes, then unclip it and remove base of tin. Cool on a cake rack. If storing the cake, leave baking paper intact, otherwise remove it before slicing the cake.
This boiled fruitcake has a soft texture and layers of spicy fruity flavour. I’ve added dark chocolate for richess – not traditional in a true Irish porter cake – and I like using golden raisins because they are gorgeously sweet and juicy. The cake will keep well for about 2 weeks wrapped first in baking paper then tin foil and stored in an airtight container.