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Mary Woods' Fruit cake

Mary Woods' Fruit cake This is the nicest recipe for fruit cake that I have ever come across.

It belongs to a very dear friend of mine whom I once worked with.

Mary who is constantly encouraging me to follow the rainbow is a real friend and a trooper to the hospitality industry.

The recipe is delicious and has never let me down-just like Mary!!

- 1lb/450g currants
- 11oz/285g sultanas
- 5oz/150g raisins
- 4oz/110g cherries - chopped
into pieces
- 4oz/110g nibbed or chopped
- 4oz/110g mixed peel Grated zest of two lemons
- 4 tablespoons of brandy
- 11oz/325g plain flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons of mixed spice
- ¾ teaspoons nutmeg
- 4oz/110g ground almonds
- 10oz/275g butter - softened
- 10oz/275g dark brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons of treacle
- 5 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 130C/250F/Gas Mark ½
You must begin by preparing the cake tin.
You need to line it on the inside of a 10 inch round or 9 inch square cake tin with a double layer of parchment and on the outside with a layer of brown paper so as to allow slow entry of heat into the cake.
It is vitally important to spend time lining your cake tin correctly.
Next you need to put all of the dried fruit, the lemon zest and the chopped almonds into a large bowl and mix in the brandy.
Cover and leave to infuse for 24-48 hours.

To Make the Cake:
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs into the mix.
Sift the flour, ground almonds and spices together.
Add the flours to the creamy butter mixture, mixing thoroughly.
Next mix in the treacle and combine well.
Finally you need to fold in the dried fruit which has been soaking.
The mixture will get quite firm but do persevere at this stage.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth it all out across the top.
Bake the cake mixture for 3 ½ hours or until the mixture starts to come away from the side of the tin.
The cake should have a little spring when pressed in the centre to indicate that it is cooked.
Allow to cool completely in the tin.
Pour additional brandy over the top of the cake if desired.
Almond icing:
Sift the flour, caster sugar and ground almonds together.
Add in the beaten egg and lemon juice and use them to bind the mixture together.
Kneed the mix together (similar to pastry) and wrap it tightly in cling film and store in the fridge until required.
Icing ingredients:

- 8oz/225g ground almonds
- 4oz/110g icing sugar
- 4oz/110g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 6-8 drops of lemon juice.

To Ice the cake:
Turn the rich fruit cake upside down onto a cake board or serving platter.
Brush the entire surface of the cake with boiled apricot jam.
On a work surface well dusted with icing sugar, roll out a piece of almond paste to fit the top of your cake and then long strips to cover all around the sides of the cake.
Dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar and use both your hands and your rolling pin to smooth the surface of the cake.
Leave the cake to dry out overnight.
The next day roll out the "shop bought sugar paste icing" as directed on the packet.
Spread over the cake and again, as with the almond icing smooth out with your hands and keep rubbing it to obtain a smooth shine.

I have used a little red food colouring to colour some of the icing and make a ribbon out of some leftover strips of the icing and just folded some on top to make a bow of sorts. Play around with the decoration to get it to the way you want it using either Christmas decorations, fresh flowers or some handmade decorations. Brush the almond icing with water to stick the white icing to the cake. This is the same recipe and process of decoration I use for a wedding cake.
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