It’s that fruitcake time of year. I made one that was a bit of an experiment and it worked rather well. What’s more, it’s gluten free. Here’s the recipe, for those adventurous souls who want to try it.
Oven temperature: 180° C (360° F).
Baking time: 60 minutes.
Baking pan: Round. Diameter 23 cm (10 inches), height 6 cm (2.5 inches).
Baking paper to line the pan.
- 225 g (8 oz) brown sugar – the darker the better. I used dark muscovado unrefined cane sugar.
- 225 g (8 oz) margerine or butter – I used margerine.
- 4 eggs.
- 400 g (12 oz) cake flour – I used gluten free flour.
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg.
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Half a teaspoon mixed spices.
- Pinch of salt.
- 200 g (7 oz) sultanas.
- 200 g (7 oz) blackberries or some other squishy, slightly sour berry – I used frozen blackberries.
- 2 handfuls pecan nuts – basically, as many as you want.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
- 50 ml (2 tablespoons) molasses.
- 50 ml (2 tablespoons) or more plain yoghurt (if necessary, make sure it’s gluten free).
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar – but have more available, because the topping is tricky.
- 50 ml water.
A slice of hevvy fruitcake looks like this:
Mix the margerine/butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each egg in well.
Add the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spices and salt. Here’s a tip to prevent flour from flying everywhere: Use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients at first, then use an electric mixer to finish the job.
Chop the pecan nuts into largish pieces – quarters or thirds of a nut are good.
If you’ve been using an electric mixer, now’s a good time to abandon it.
Add the sultanas, blackberries, and chopped nuts to your mixture. Also add the vanilla essence, molasses and yoghurt.
Mix it all together with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about getting everything 100% mixed in. It’s fine if there are still a few visible globs of yoghurt when you’ve finished.
Line the baking pan with baking paper. Spoon the mix into the pan, ensuring a more or less level surface. Bake for approximately an hour at 180° C (360° F).
Stick a thin knife into the cake to check it after about 40 minutes, and then again every 15 minutes or so, to see how it’s doing. When you pull out the knife, the blade shouldn’t be completely clean (it’s better if the cake is moist). It should have some moist, slightly gooey stuff on it, but not a lot of uncooked dough.
Remove the cake from the pan and put it on a metal rack to cool. Leave the baking paper on the cake until it’s cool.
Topping of caramelised sugar
The aim here is to heat the sugar and water until the sugar caramelises, then pour it onto the cake before it sets hard.
Set a pot of cool water ready, for testing your caramel mixture. (Cold water from the tap is fine.)
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. At first, the sugar mixture is thin with lots of small bubbles. Keep it boiling and keep stirring. The sugar mixture gets thicker and darker.
Now it’s time to test the mixture. Take your wooden spoon out of the pot and hold it over your separate pot of cool water. Let a drop of the sugar mixture fall into the water. Prod the drop with your finger – it should be hard to the touch. If it’s still squishy, or if it disperses and flattens when you drop it into the water, then the caramel mixture isn’t yet ready.
When ready, dribble the caramel mixture over the top of the cake. Don’t worry if it’s not evenly spread – there’s no need to cover the whole cake, and it’s fine to have deep and shallow valleys of sugar.
Here’s another tip: If the sugar crystalises in the pan, it’s not hard to wash, despite the scary appearance of the caramel-encrusted pan. This means you can quickly start again with another mixture of sugar and water if things go wrong the first time.
Enjoy the cake!