I make this cake a lot and, since first published a little over a year ago, it’s gone through a few changes, some minor, others – the addition of more fruit and a lot of cherries – quite major, so I thought it time I updated it. So I have…
Initially, it was knocked up on the spur of the moment. It worked so I published the recipe – the top pic is, in fact, the first one I made. Personally, I think this version is better but, if you don’t agree, you can always tweak it. I think the cherries might be overkill for some – half the quantity works pretty well too. I use Tesco or Sainsbury’s glacé cherries. Avoid Asda’s, they’re tasteless.
275g white bread flour (or plain flour)
1 level tablespoon baking powder
160g golden caster sugar (I like a sweet cake, use 110g if you don’t)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
400g mixed fruit
200g glacé cherries
1 large egg
50g milk powder**
Cold water sufficient to give a soft dropping consistency
**If you have no milk powder, use milk instead of water to mix. The powder gives a better flavour though. I use Tesco Value Dried Skimmed Milk Powder, but all supermarkets have a similar product.
Note re baking powder. I invariably forget this, so it winds up added at the end, mixed in by hand with a spatula and a splash more water. Fortuitously, this gives a much better rise than adding it with the flour, as it should be.
Note re cherries. If these are added with the mixed fruit, the beater tends to break them up (as in the pic, above). Still tastes perfectly fine though, but if you want whole cherries, fold them in by hand at the end.
Have any ingredients normally kept in the fridge brought up to room temperature.
Weigh the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (use the flat beater when mixing), and leave to soften. When soft, add the egg, sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth and creamy.
In another bowl weigh out the dry ingredients, then do the same with the mixed fruit and add to the mixer bowl, add about 75ml cold water and mix thoroughly. This should result in a stiffish mix (flour can vary a lot), so with the mixer running, slowly dribble in more water until the desired consistency is achieved – around 90-100ml.
Scrape into a lined 2lb loaf tin (these vary wildly in size, but Sainsbury’s have one that’s about right), level off with a spatula and coat the top with Demerara sugar then, with the back of a tablespoon, gently work the sugar into the top of the mix, where the moisture and heat will combine to form a sweet, crisp, crust.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C, or 160C for a fan oven), lowest shelf, for an hour, or a little more (ovens vary). Test with a skewer, or the blade of a small knife, after an hour, if it comes out clean, it’s ready. Mine takes exactly an hour and 10 minutes at 160, and I turn it around after half an hour.
Remove, still in the tin, to a cooling rack. After an hour, remove from the tin – it’ll still be hot so pick it up by the paper liner – and set it back on the rack. Fold back the paper and leave to cool.
Gorgeous warm, just as good cold.
Three Spoonie spoons, because handling the bowl of batter while filling the tin is tricky and potentially painful. Oi! Kenwood – why don’t your bowls have handles?
And before someone asks why I don’t have a KitchenAid, which do have handles, I did, it went back. They might look good but they are small, overpriced (as are the accessories), and grossly underpowered. My Premier Chef is 1200W (current version is 1000W), the KA Artisan is 300W. No contest – when it comes to whipping up a kilo or more of bread dough, the KA can’t hack it. Not my opinion – you are warned against it. It would, admittedly, be fine for this cake, but I have neither the space nor the money for another mixer.
No matter what I do, the whole cherries usually sink. And, yes, I do know the flouring trick – it doesn’t work! Nor is my mix too wet. Every possible reason has been explored – I make this a lot – nothing works and my cherries still sink, the problem being their shape, smoothness, and weight. There is, however, something thoroughly enjoyable and slightly erotic about a solid layer of cherries.
You can mix this by hand if you don’t have mixer.
It really is worth getting bread flour (Doves Farm is good), and milk powder.
I used bread flour without even thinking about it, because it’s what I always have on the worktop, and whenever I need flour, that’s what gets used. I’m still surprised that the cake is so amazingly light and delicate. Still, some of the best recipes happened by accident.