I recently purchased a couple of new ( well new to me, they were actually described as used, hence the cheap price I got them for) cookbooks. One of which was the “Yeo Valleys Great British Farmhouse” cookbook by Sarah Mayor which contains traditional recipes made as she was growing up on the family farm as well as recipes made today in their staff / conference venue restaurant.
I noted there was a recipe for Farmhouse Fruit cake, and given that I love fruit cake/loaf, and so does my hubby, I knew I had to give this recipe a go.
550 grams of mixed fruit ( I used a mixture of raisins, sultanas, cranberries, mixed peel, dates and apricots, but you could use whatever you had one hand), 120ml of boiling water, 450 grams of Self Raising flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, a large pinch of salt, 300 grams of soft butter, 300 grams of caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 200mls of whole milk and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar ( although the recipe states demerara however I didn’t have any).
Add the mixed fruit to a bowl and add the hot water. Stir together and leave for 1 hour, going back and stirring occasionally. After 1 hour, place the fruit onto a tea towel and dry. Beware it will cover your towel with a gunky brown mess! Photo evidence below.
Then add the fruit to a dry bowl and add two tablespoons from the 450 grams of flour and stir to combine.
Preheat your oven to 150° C and grease and line a 9 inch cake tin. My lining has a funny fold as I didn’t quite get the size of the tin right and cut the length too short, so had to add another piece to fill the gap! The recipe also advised to fold a few sheets of newspaper to create a thick band and wrap around the outside of the tin. Tie in place with some string. This is to protect the cake sides from being overly browned or burnt especially with being in the oven for a long time.
Sift the remaining flour and the mixed spice into a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each one, however add a tablespoon of flour with each of the last two eggs. The add half the remaining flour, half the milk, then the rest of the flour and then the rest of the milk, mixing well after each addition.
Then fold the fruit into the mix, pour into the cake tin and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Place in the oven.
The recipe states to cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes, however I cooked mine for 1 hour and 30 minutes in a fan assisted oven and it was ready when I tested with a cocktail stick ( it came out clean). I would recommend keeping an eye on it but not opening the oven door too early. Never open the oven door until the cake is 3/4 of the way through the cooking time given. Opening the door early will mean the temperature will drop and the cake could collapse. Thanks Queen Delia for this brill tip!
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so and remove the side of the cake tin. I left the bottom of the tin and the grease proof paper on until the cake was completely cool , then removed them.
I found that my fruit sank to the bottom despite covering them in flour. In the future I would add more flour to the mixture to see if I could make this cake mix less liquid in order to stop the fruit sinking.
This recipe makes quite a big cake, so would recommend making if you are having a lot of people over or you love fruit cake. Hubbie comes in for his lunch every day with his colleague and they both enjoy a fancy piece* or two with their cuppa tea so this will get devoured pretty quickly in our house! Or you could half the recipe and use a smaller cake tin.
*A ” fancy piece” means a cake in Scotland, actually its usually just in the North East ( Aberdeen/ Aberdeenshire) that I have found this term used and there its pronounced ” Funcee”. However a “piece or pieces” simply means sandwiches, although I find myself dropping the ” fancy” and simply using “piece” for cake…. just to confuse you more!
Sorry for the impromptu Scots language lesson!