I can't help but feel sorry for this cake. I have included it in numerous Facebook Polls and, without fail, it crosses the finishing line in third place with just one or two votes. Neil had to go to London for a meeting and I asked if he'd like me to make a cake to share with his work colleagues. I thought it a good opportunity to give this recipe a try. When I looked through the list of ingredients I thought it should make for a lovely light fruit cake.
As Neil would be leaving bright and early, I decided to make this cake the night before. Dinner was merrily cooking in the oven, so I thought I could whip up the cake before our meal was ready to dish up. I cleared some space on the untidy worktop and managed to squeeze in a mixing bowl and to prop up my Baking Bible.
As this cake contains cherries I'd already decided it would be delicious; they are one of my most favorite things! I'm used to spending an age chopping and washing mountains of cherries for Mary's fruit cakes, but on this occasion I only required 100g. This meant I managed to work my way through them quickly. While the chopped and washed cherries dried on kitchen towel, I moved on to adding all the remaining ingredients into my mixing bowl. My butter was a little squidgy as I'd had to resort to placing it on top of the oven to soften it. Almost the whole packet was used for this recipe. I tried to tell myself that the dried fruit would counteract out all the butter!! I love using muscovado sugar especially in a fruited cake, so I was delighted to be making use of it. It gives such a delicious rich flavor. Now for the self-raising flour and eggs. I managed to lose a substantial piece of egg shell in the bowl. I am getting better at retrieving bits of shell; I consider it to be a sport! Next it was time to add the dried fruit. I added raisins and sultanas in equal quantities. The last ingredients to be included were a little mixed spice and a splash of brandy. All that was left to do was to beat everything together. I love how most of Mary's recipes require little more than 'chucking' everything into a bowl and then mixing it! I was worried my electric whisk would pulverise the fruit but amazingly it stayed intact. I had trouble with a stubborn lump of butter that I ended up chasing around the bowl. It did not wish to meet its fate! It climbed higher and higher up the side of the bowl until at last I was triumphant! The combined mixture was now ready to go into its awaiting greased and lined tin. I was using an 8 inch tin and I was surprised to find that the mixture didn't seem quite enough; it looked lost in the tin!! I smoothed over the top of the cake and then placed it into the oven. Our dinner may have been a little crispier than I had intended, but it worked out beautifully as my next job was to dish up and tuck into our food!
As instructed, I placed some greaseproof paper over the top of the cake after an hour in order to stop it burning. I left it for another hour and then gave it a prod to see if it was done. I decided to put it back for another fifteen minutes. After the total amount of cooking time, and another hearty poke, I felt that it was ready! I'm not sure if all my poking was perhaps a bit too heavy handed as, whilst cooling in the tin for the suggested half hour, I noticed it had sunk a little in the middle. This saddened me as it had looked so good beforehand. Neil had already gone to bed, so I set about cleaning the kitchen floor to pass the time. Due to a small child, and also a cat, I find myself doing it much more frequently nowadays! Finally I could tip the cake out of the tin and place it on a wire rack to cool. I left it to carry on cooling overnight while I caught up on some much needed beauty sleep.
The following day I quickly cut a slice of cake to make sure it was cooked through. I would have been devastated if Neil's workmates had cut into a undercooked cake! Thankfully it appeared to be baked all the way through. I just had time to have a sneaky taste. It was such a lovely light fruit cake, but the brandy gave it a richer depth of flavor. It is perfect for those who aren't keen on either a dark or light fruit cake. It casts a happy mid point between the two. Neil took half the cake with him to his meeting. Apparently it was a hit and it was all eaten. Neil's parents visited and helped out with the remaining half; they both seemed to enjoy it. It may not sound like an overly exciting cake but it really was a pleasant surprise. I will certainly be making it again.
A lovely fruit cake