It’s time to think about fruit cake! This glorious fruit cake tastes wonderful, yet it is very simple to make

Just soak South African raisins in rum for 1-2 days prior to making the cake to plump them up and make the cake extra moist and fruity!

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1-2 days soaking
Cooking time: 2 hours
Makes 1 round 20cm (8in) cake – approx. 20 slices

1kg South African Flame raisins
100g glace cherries, halved
150ml dark rum, plus 3tbsp for ‘feeding’
150g butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
100g ground almonds
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
200g plain flour
1/4tsp salt
2tsp ground mixed spice

  1. Put the South African Flame raisins and glace cherries into a large mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 2-3 minutes. Drain thoroughly through a colander. Tip the fruit back into the bowl and add the rum, stirring well. Cover and leave in a cool place for up to 2 days, though at least overnight. This plumps up the fruit and makes the cake deliciously moist.
  2. In a very large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using a wooden spoon or hand-held electric mixer. Gradually add the beaten eggs, beating well between each addition. Stir in the almonds, orange zest and orange juice.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with double-thickness baking paper.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into the mixing bowl, folding them through with a large metal spoon. Do not beat the mixture at this stage. Add the soaked raisin mixture and stir it in thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface. Remember that the mixture will not rise.
  5. Bake for approximately 2 hours in the centre of the oven. Test that the cake is cooked by inserting a fine skewer into the centre – it should come out clean. If not, cook for a little longer. Stand the cake on a wire rack and leave it to cool in the tin. When completely cold, spoon 3tbsp dark rum over the surface and let it soak in. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin in a cool place for up to 3 months.
COOK’S TIP: Pre-soaking the raisins really makes a difference, so do make time for this.