Pamela Clarke’s triple-tested fruit cake recipe

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents -

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…

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