My Mother’s Boiled Fruit Cake


A family favourite from my Mother’s notebook, practically the cake of my childhood. This isn’t a Slimming World recipe.

Baking has long been a big thing in my family, my late father’s maternal grandfather was a baker from the Black Forest region of Germany, my mother’s maternal grandmother was an exceptional pastry maker, and one of her uncles trained in the Army Catering Corporation. My mother, of course, baked a lot when my brothers and I were growing up, just like her own mother did before her. Whenever I bake I feel that I’m continuing their legacies, even though I’ve never met my great grandparents or uncle. Nor do I have any Germanic baking recipes which is disappointing, maybe there’s a book on German home baking somewhere that I could get.Sorry, I digress.

In the 1970s when my mother was a young hairdresser, she used to perm the hair of a lady called Vera. One day Vera came in carrying a parcel for my Mum, inside was a cake and this recipe written in green ink on blue note paper. Mum has made this recipe ever since.

I like it thickly sliced with a cup of green tea in the afternoon, especially if there is a whodunit on the television.

My Mother’s Boiled Fruit Cake

This was one of the recipes passed on to me when I started baking, and I now pass it on to you.

175ml water
110g brown sugar
110g butter
350g mixed dried fruit
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
Crushed demerara sugar cubes, for sprinkling

To make this cake, you place the water, sugar, butter and fruit in a pan set over a gentle heat. Allow to come up to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave it to simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from the hob and decant the entire mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely. Mum actually leaves it to cool overnight, covered with a clean cloth.

While the fruit mixture is cooling, preheat your oven to 160c/140c fan/gas 2, and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (or use a loaf tin liner like I have in the picture).

Sift your flour and spice over the fruit, and add the eggs. Mix together using a wooden spoon, until combined. Dollop into the tin, sprinkle over the crushed demerara sugar cubes.

Bake, 1 hour 45 minutes, covering with baking paper halfway through if it needs it, until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: This also makes a good Christmas cake, simply double everything and bake in a greased and lined 23cm cake tin, for the same amount of time at the same temperature.


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