Alida says: “To this day, I adore fruit cake. I know it’s quite polarizing. You either love it, or you hate it. And right now, I am one of few people that absolutely adore it in my family. And so, I decided to bake one for the very first time this year. My aunt was so kind to share her recipe with me but to keep her original recipe safe, I’ve tweaked it here and there and put my own spin on it. I also know that not everyone wants to get drunk on a piece of cake (who are those people even?) so I’ve made suggestions where you can leave out the alcohol. Her recipe is dead easy but does require a little effort as it’s not exactly a throw-in-a-bowl-and-go kinda recipe. The fruit is lovingly cooked with butter and sugar and then cooled overnight so that the flavours can marry and become rich and intense. This is where I made the first change to the recipe. Instead of just using a dried fruit mix made for cakes like this, I made my own with golden sultanas, raisins and candied orange peel as well adding Medjool dates and glace cherries. And then for the kicker, I found maple-infused prunes at Woolworths and now I know not everyone will have access to it but fear not, I have a solution. Try to find soft, squishy prunes and soak them in a glug of maple syrup for a few hours before cooking with the rest of the fruit. This adds intense caramelly, almost bourbon-like flavours to the cake, especially if you use good organic maple syrup.
After baking, the cake will be dense and rich and this is when you would normally start feeding it brandy. A few capfuls every few days for a month or so, but if you don’t have the time or want for that process, simply make a syrup with sugar, water, butter and maple syrup and add a good glug of brandy (which is optional). This is poured over the cake as it comes out of the oven and left to soak in overnight. The cake can then be wrapped and refrigerated for up to a month where the flavours will just become more intense or it can be enjoyed immediately. Whichever way you choose, I guarantee a fruit cake so rich and full of flavour, you won’t be able to stop at one piece.”
Classic fruitcake with salted maple syrup
Preparation time 45 minutes
Cooking time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours 45 minutes
for the fruit cake
1 cup raisins
½ cup candied citrus peel
¾ cup golden sultanas
½ cup Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup glace cherries
½ cup maple-infused prunes
125g (1/2 cup/1 stick) butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoons baking soda
¼ cup brandy (optional: alternatively replace with water)
2 cups flour (all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
for the salted maple syrup
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup brandy (optional)
large pinch sea salt flakes
Cook the fruit (Except for the cherries), butter, sugar and water until the mixture is dark and sticky.
Add the cherries and baking soda and refrigerate over night.
The next morning, pre-heat the oven to 140°c.
Beat in the eggs and brandy/water into the cooled fruit mixture. I find it easiest to do this in the bowl of a freestanding mixer.
Add the flour, baking powder and spices and mix through.
Grease and line a 20cmx7.5cm cake pan then transfer the cake mix to the prepared cake pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 90 mins-2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out relatively clean. You want a little stickiness there as you want the cake to be almost gooey.
In the meantime, simmer together all the syrup ingredients for 10 minutes then set aside.
When the cake comes out of the oven, pour over the syrup then allow to soak in overnight.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE
Alida Ryder is one of my favourite food people. Excellent cook, recipe developer, great photographer. Her website has a huge following and she is doing things she could only have dreamed of a few years ago. She’s written two books Simple & Delicious and Cook from the heart. Click here to go to her fabulous website. Click here to buy her first e-book.