Rich Fruit Cake
Approximate Baking Times
1½ - 2 hours
2 - 2½ hours
2½ - 3 hours
3 - 3½ hours
Grease the tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Pre-heat the oven to gas, mark 1, 275 F (140 C).
The night before you make the cake, place all the dried fruits and peel in a bowl and mix in the brandy. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to soak for at least 12 hours.
Sieve the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, and in a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture's light and fluffy. Next, beat up the eggs and - a tablespoon at a time - add them to the creamed mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition. lf it looks as if it might start to curdle, you can prevent this happening by adding a little of the flour.
When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices (fold, don't beat). Now stir in the fruit and peel that has been soaking, the nuts, the treacle and the grated lemon and orange rinds.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. (lf you are not going to ice the cake, at this stage you can arrange some whole blanched almonds over the surface -but do it lightly, or else they disappear for ever into the cake!)
Tie a band of brown paper around the outside of the tin, and cover the top of the cake with a double square of greaseproof paper (with a hole in the middle approximately the size of a 50p). Bake the cake on the lower shelf of the oven, look at the table above for approximate baking times but these do vary greatly from oven to oven. Use a clean skewer inserted into the centre of the cake to determine if it is done. If the skewer comes out clean it is cooked, the slightest bit of 'wet', it is not.
When the cake is cold, wrap it well in double greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin wrapped in foil. I like to 'feed' it at odd intervals with brandy during the storage time. To do this, strip off the lining papers, make a few extra holes in the top with a thin darning needle or fine skewer and pour a few teaspoons of brandy in to soak into the cake.
Repeat this at intervals for a week or two.