Pamela Clarke’s triple-tested fruit cake recipe
Pamela Clark has been associated with The Australian Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen for nearly 50 years, teaching generations of Australians how to cook. Pamela takes us on a culinary journey through the decades, sharing her favourite recipes from The Weekly and its cookbooks, and the stories of the people and places that have been a part of her incredible career. Here we share Pamela’s very special fruit cake recipe, perfect for the festive season.
Early in 1980, I was cooking away in the Test Kitchen when Mrs S (Mrs Ellen Sinclair, the Food Editor at the time) returned from a business lunch with French people who owned the Grand Marnier label. She was a bit ustered and asked me if I could dream up a recipe using a substantial amount of Grand Marnier, as opposed to a tablespoon or two in a dessert. The hitch was, the French had to have the recipe to take back to
France in two days’ time.
Now, some of you may know, fruit cakes are my special thing, so I carefully made up a recipe on paper, and the next day ew into action, modifying the recipe as I went along; the result is the recipe overleaf. It has to be one of our most requested recipes and it remains one of my personal favourites.
I make it for special occasions, like my son’s wedding and as a gift for very special people.
A rich fruit cake of this size takes 12 hours to cool to room temperature, so on the morning of the deadline day, I did the unforgivable and cut the cake before it was completely cool – the pressure was on. The cake tasted divine and cut perfectly, even allowing for the cake-abuse. After the recipe had gone on its merry way to France, by snail mail back then, I made the cake again, soaking the fruit for three weeks, exactly as the recipe had stated. I often wonder what happened to the recipe once it reached France, since our style of fruit cake would be alien to the French.
Fruit cakes are very forgiving and, really, the basic formula can be tinkered with by changing the mix of fruit, the alcohol, avourings etc. If you haven’t tried this recipe already, give it a go, you’ll love it. It’s worth every cent of the cost of the Grand Marnier.
Some months later, Mrs S received a vintage bottle of Grand Marnier liqueur from France. She told me that, really, she should give it to me – but she didn’t. Not that I’m bitter…