Tra­di­tional fruit cake

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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.

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