Elena’s Family Heirloom Fruit Cakes

I love Great British Bake Off, don’t you? Even if you’ve never seen it (you should), baking is pretty awesome and a favourite past time of mine.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to make these darling little gems and keep them in an old Quality Street tin. She’d never offer you a cake, she’d just hold them at hip height and rotate the tin back and forth a few times. If there was a rumble, she concluded, there were fruit cakes, and they were probably good enough to eat. Only then would she remove the lid and offer you a cake. When she passed away in 2011, I made it my personal goal to make these little darlings and serve them in a Quality Street tin at her funeral, just like she would have done if she were there. I later found out that this recipe has been handed down to me by at least five generations!

It’s important to note that this recipe calls for going by sight, not weight. None of us are perfectionists, and in my blood line “about” is a perfectly acceptable unit of measurement. Use scales, but don’t use them too precisely. They are quite a dense cake and definitely aren’t a sponge, but don’t let that put you off.

Oh, and if you have a gas oven rather than an electric oven, then they are much, much better!

For this recipe, you will need:

  • About 8 oz/230g white self-raising flour
  • About 4oz/115g salted butter
  • About 4oz/115g 4oz granulated white sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • A little milk
  • 1-2 handfuls sultanas

You will also need:

  • A large mixing bowl (glass preferred, but not essential)
  • A wooden spoon
  • Kitchen scales
  • A mug
  • A fork
  • A 12-hole muffin tray OR an 8-inch round cake tin
  • 12 muffin cases OR greaseproof paper
  • Wire cooling rack

The Method:

  • Heat the oven on gas mark 5/190 ° C/375 ° F.
  • Line the muffin tray or cake tin with muffin cases or greaseproof paper and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, crumb together the butter, sugar and flour until fine crumbs are formed.
  • Crack the eggs into a mug and whisk well with a fork.
  • Make a well in the crumb mixture and add the eggs and dried fruit. Mix thoroughly to combine all ingredients.
  • The mixture should fall off of the spoon with little effort when raised. If it’s too dry, add a little milk. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour.
  • Beat the mixture for 1-2 minutes to incorporate plenty of air. The cake batter should appear glossy and the sultanas should be covered.
  • Once ready, transfer the mixture and share or spread evenly into your lined cases or tin.
  • Bake the cakes in the middle of the oven for approximately 25 minutes. If a skewer pierced through the top of the cake comes out clean, then your cake is ready.
  • Transfer the baked cake or cakes to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  • This cake is best enjoyed with some lovely traditionally English breakfast tea!

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