Makes 1 large loaf or 2 smaller (1lb each) loaves
Kindly set your glacé cherries aside – this is not your Nana’s loaf. We’re using heaps of dried fruit, citrus zest, and a generous soaking of booze. Make this a few weeks before the holidays for a real kick. Pair with a Stilton-y blue cheese, like Upper Bench’s King Cole. Oh, and this lasts forever, so you can enjoy it well into Valentine’s Day if you like!
You’ll need two days to make this: one day to soak the dried fruit, and the next day to bake. The list of ingredients is long, but it’s fairly straightforward to prepare so don’t be daunted. The result is well worth the time investment. Double or triple up quantities for gifting ☺
125gm raisins or sultanas
50gm dried cherries
50gm dried mixed citrus peel
100ml sherry, rum, brandy or cognac (I use Harvey’s Amontillado sherry)
75gm unsalted butter, softened
65gm soft dark brown sugar (or muscovado)
Zest of ½ an orange
Zest or ½ a lemon
2 large eggs
1 tbsp molasses, black treacle or golden syrup
75gm all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
50gm ground almonds
50gm chopped or sliced blanched almonds
Step 1: Soak your fruit. Place the currants, sultanas, cherries and mixed dried peel in a bowl with the booze. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight. The next day, strain the liquid but keep it – we’re going to use it to soak the cake once it’s baked.
- Preheat your oven to 266F (130C) and place a pan of water on the bottom shelf. Grease two 6 inch loaf tins or one 9 inch tin and line these with baking parchment. You can use round tins too – it’s up to you.
- Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Place the butter and soft dark brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand beater). Add the grated citrus zest and blend until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the molasses.
- Next add the sifted dry ingredients in thirds, beating well after each addition.
- Lastly, fold in the nuts and soaked dried fruit.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared tins.
- Place on the middle rack in your oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack. While still warm, brush on some of the reserved soaking liquid. Turn out of the tins once they’ve cooled down and gently wrap. Keep them out at room temperature and continue to brush on the liquid over 2-3 days until it is all used up.
- For an extra festive kick, continue to soak the loaves weekly, until you’re ready to partake ☺