Peter’s Five Egg Christmas or Birthday Cake

10:00 pm on 8 November 2004

Ingredients

For a 23cm square or round cake:

  • 500g each sultanas, raisins and currants (or 1.5kg mixed dried fruit)
  • ½ cup sherry
  • rinds of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 250g soft butter
  • 1 Tbsp treacle
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups strong (bread) flour or standard (plain) flour
  • ½ tsp each ground allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg.

Comments

This is a lovely, dark, moist, fruity cake which I invented years ago, for my husband’s birthday. I have many letters from other people telling me they have enjoyed it too. It contains no essences, but is flavoured by a variety of spices. Leave out any spices you don’t have, doubling others – it should still be a good cake with a great flavour!

Method

One to two days before cake is made, put the (good quality) dried fruits into a large plastic bag with the sherry. Turn the bag every now and then, and leave the bag to stand in a sunny or other warm place, until the fruit has absorbed all the sherry. (To speed up the soaking time, microwave the bag of fruit until the contents are hot, then leave to cool, turning the bag over occasionally.)

When ready to make and bake your cake, heat oven to 150°C (140°C fanbake) with the rack just below the middle. Line the sides and bottom of a square or round 23cm cake pan with baking paper or a Teflon liner. See note about other sized cakes.

Remove all the coloured rind of the lemon and orange, using a microplane grater if you have one, or with a potato peeler. Process the peel with the sugar until the peel is very finely chopped, or add the grated rind to the sugar. Add the butter to the sugar mixture, process or beat until soft and fluffy, then process or beat in the treacle. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of the measured flour between each egg.

Mix the rest of the flour and the spices with the fruit, in a very large bowl. Tip the creamed mixture into the floured fruit, and mix everything together by hand, until soft enough to drop from your hand. If the mixture is dryer than this, add up to ¼ cup of extra sherry, orange juice or spirits. Tip the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Decorate top with blanched almonds and/or halved, crystallised cherries if you like.

Bake at 150°C (140°C fanbake) for 1 hour, then lower the temperature to 140°C (130°C fanbake) and bake for about 3 hours, until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Brush about ¼ cup of rum or brandy over the cake while it is hot, if you like. Leave an hour before removing from the pan. Top with bought or home-made icings if desired. For maximum flavour and best texture, leave several weeks before cutting.

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