King Charles III has long been known to favour a fruit cake (unlike his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose favourite cake was a chocolate biscuit cake - Charles can't stand chocolate!) and so I thought I'd share with you my favourite fruit cake recipe.
Fruit cake can be divisive and I understand why, although when you get your batter just right, you're left with a lovely moist cake that doesn't feel too heavy or cloying to the senses.
It make take a little more time to make a fruit cake than a classic sponge, but I personally love a slice with a cuppa for an afternoon snack.
This is a cake you'll want to make a few days before you plan on eating it (wearing your King Charles III Coronation Collection Apron while you bake, of course)!
100g dried apricots, chopped
1 large orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
200g softened butter, plus extra for the tin
200g light brown soft sugar
3 medium eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
2 tsp mixed spice
100g glacé cherries
50g mixed peel (candied lemon and orange peel)
- Pop the sultanas and apricots into a bowl and pour over the citrus zest and juice. Leave this to soak for at least two hours, or ideally overnight if you have the time.
- Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3, and butter/grease a 900g loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, leaving about 2cm overhanging.
- Pop the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, ground almonds and mixed spice in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, and whisk to combine until smooth and creamy, this should take you around a minute (and will be a good workout for your arms!).
- Add the soaked fruit and any juice to the cake batter along with the cherries and mixed peel. Fold everything together using a spatula until the fruit is evenly distributed.
- Scrape your mixture into the tin and level the surface for an even bake. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hr 30 mins, checking it after 1 hr 15 mins – if it’s getting too dark on top, cover with foil but mind your fingers don't get burnt.
- The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If any wet batter clings to the skewer, return the cake to the oven for 5 mins more and check again.
- When the cake is done, put the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Remove the cake from the tin and if you're planning on decorating the cake, you can do this now.
One of the great things about fruit cake is that it will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to six months.
A classic fruit cake is often decorated with marzipan and fondant icing, so here's how we'd do it:
2 tbsp apricot jam
icing sugar, for dusting
250g ready-rolled white fondant icing
- Warm the apricot jam in a pan over a low heat to loosen the jam and brush this over the cake with a pastry brush.
- Roll the marzipan out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until it’s large enough to fit the top of the cake (use the tin to measure to make it easier). Then press the marzipan onto the top of the cake, but not with too much pressure - you don't want to squish the cake!
- Repeat this process with the fondant icing, pressing it onto the marzipan. Trim the edges of the fondant and marzipan to make a neat rectangle.
- Use mini shape cutters to stamp out shapes from the fondant topping if you want to make the cake a bit more of a centre piece, or leave as is. Just be careful not to cut through to the marzipan underneath.
You'll need to leave this to set for a day or so before cutting up and enjoying with a cuppa to watch the coronation!