Traditional fruit cake
MAKES 1 X 20CM CAKE FRUIT MIXTURE 200ml vegetable oil plus extra for the tin 400g currants 250g pitted and chopped dry dates 250g pitted and chopped prunes 1 tbsp cider vinegar 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda FLOUR MIXTURE 125g plain flour sifted 25g cocoa sifted 150g ground almonds tsp freshly grated nutmeg tsp ground ginger TO FINISH icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a 20cm loose-bottom cake tin 7cm-9cm deep. Line the base with baking paper and brush this with oil also. Tear off a sheet of baking paper large enough to cover the tin and go about halfway down the sides. Cut out a small (about 2cm) circle from the centre.
For the fruit mixture, pour the oil and 500ml water into a medium pan, stir in the fruit, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda which will make the mixture sizzle. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Fold in the flour mixture ingredients one by one until combined. Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and smooth the surface.
Lay the sheet of baking paper over the tin and tie it in place with string. Bake the cake for 2½ hours, testing it with a skewer (through the hole in the paper) after about 2¼ hours. Run a knife around the rim and leave the cake to cool in the tin. It will be good to eat from the following day onwards. Remove the paper and dust with icing sugar shortly before serving. The cake will keep well in a tin or covered container for several weeks.