I was given Home Baked by Eric Lanlard a few months ago and have finally got round to making one of his cakes. I've done the recipe for his Ale Fruit loaf but in the spirit of the season I used Harvey's Christmas Ale instead of a regular one. The recipe also lists wholemeal self-raising flour as an ingredient. As I didn't have any in the cupboard I used wholemeal spelt flour and added a teaspoon of baking powder to the mixture. I do love fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese - I think that is my Yorkshire roots coming out - and this cake is perfect for that combination. Did you know by the way that Wensleydale cheese production almost had to finish in the 1990s due to such low sales. It was however featured in the Wallace & Gromit animations and sales shot up saving this lovely cheese which was originally created by French Cistercian monks who settled in Wensleydale in the 14th century. In his book Eric also suggests serving it toasted and buttered with raspberry jam which would be delicious too. Either way this is a great cake for eating in front of the TV on those days between Christmas and NY just as it's getting dark outside and it's all cosy inside (or while typing up a blog post....).
This cake is also my entry into December's Tea Time Treats, a monthly baking challenge hosted alternatively by What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is, of course, Christmas and is being hosted by the fab Kate.
The Recipe (my version)
390g mixed dried fruit (out of interest can someone tell me why Sainsbury's normal mixed dried fruit is £1.54 for 300g and their luxury dried fruit £1.53 for the same amount?!)
1 x bottle (250ml) ale
100g soft brown sugar
85g self raising flour
100g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tspn baking powder
3 tsp's ground mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
1. This is the easiest cake ever to make. Firstly, the day before you want to make the cake, place the dried fruit in a saucepan with the beer and heat gently. Place in a bowl, cover and leave overnight to soak.
2. The next day preheat the oven to 40c/gas mark 1. Grease and line a loaf tin.
3. Put the soaked dried fruit and all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Place in the loaf tin and cook. The original recipe says to cook for 1 1/4 hours but mine took more like 1 1/2 hours. Cool in the tin before turning out.
According to Eric, you should wrap the loaf in cling film and it will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 weeks.