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To be honest, it isn’t really LIGHT. A pound of dried fruit, five eggs, a whole packet of butter – better not even start counting calories. But compared to the traditional Christmas cake it’s almost a diet food.
I think the classic Christmas cake is a bit too much – you can’t see the cake for the fruit, and it’s soaked in booze, and it’s iced to death on top of a marzipan layer. A kid in a sweet shop production. No wonder in Yorkshire you serve blue cheese with it, to balance the sickly sweetness a little.
My fruit cake here is still rich, as admitted, but it’s sober – the spoonful of rum barely counts as booze. It’s got dried fruits for sure, but you can actually see CAKE amongst them and the cake mix is lighter in colour. It has no marzipan or royal icing – let alone both. The only thing I kind of miss is a pretty ribbon tied around it – but that can be easily fixed…
It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days and will last for two weeks easily. Wrap it in foil, keep in a cool place or even the fridge and if ice it you must – do it on the day you serve it.
fruitcakeServings: 2 loaf cakesTime: about 2 hours
- 250g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 250g softened butter
- 150g icing sugar
- 5 eggs, separated
- vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp white rum
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 500g mixed dried fruit*, larger ones chopped
- *I used raisins, sultanas, cranberries, dried cherries, glace cherries, candied peel, apricots, figs, pineapple and blanched chopped almonds. Totally up to what combination you fancy.
Prepare the mixed fruit – chop the apricots, figs etc. so that everything is the size of the raisins. Add a tablespoon of flour (out of the measured quantity) and mix well so they are evenly coated.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas3.
Beat the butter with the icing sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks one by one, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and the rum. Sieve the flour with the baking powder over the buttery mixture and fold in with a spatula.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add the cream of tartar at the beginning, when they just start foaming. Mix some egg whites in the buttery mixture to loosen it up, then add in the rest and fold in gently. Stir in the dried fruit.
Divide the mixture between two small (2lb) loaf tins, buttered and lined with parchment. The mix is rather thick but don’t try to press it down, it will even out while baking.
Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the heat up to 180C/350F/gas 4 and bake for another 20-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the sides of the cake are just starting to pull away from the tin.
Cool in the tins, then turn out and dust with icing sugar or decorate with lemon icing.