Boiled Fruit Cake

Comfort. Sometimes it comes from getting to watch a longstanding favourite movie, or an unexpected phone call in which you confide, cry, laugh and so much more. But for me, for longer than I can remember, comfort is associated with cooking and with eating. But cooking. The process of making something that at the end is enjoyed by myself and sometimes more importantly by others is for me the ultimate in comfort time.

It has always been there. When I met all sides and layers of my birth families, I discovered my paternal grandmother is always in the kitchen cooking for everyone. The fact I suddenly had this connection, this continuum with another generation of my family was life changing. Comforting in fact.

Combine that with a new girl starting at our school in 1988 and me meeting her mum, who was a die-hard home cook and introduced me to the world of Gourmet Traveller and I guess a well worn track in my life was begun.

Below is a family recipe for a boiled fruit cake. For me this cake, topped with a simple lemon icing, washed down with a cup of strong tea is the ultimate in comfort and memory food. Every birthday, Christmas and major family gathering was marked by it. I of course have played with it but the principles and flavour of it remain the same.

It’s one of those fruit cakes where all those weirdos people who do the “I don’t like fruit cake” eat about four slices. And while I’m not about to say that every child offered a slice of this has eaten it, I’m straining to remember one who hasn’t.

It’s the first in a series of posts on comforting cakes and bakes as I try once and for all to coral all my food writing and recipes into one location. The index at the bottom of allconsuming will remain but many if not all of those recipes will eventually be reproduced over here as well. I love nothing if not an ordered site.

Boiled Fruit Cake

  • 600g mixed dried fruit* (I normally use sultanas, currents, raisins in varying ratios of the total amount, always working to sultanas being the most, with a handful of glace cherries)
  • 6oz butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tin crushed pineapple in natural juice, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 cup hot water (or use the pineapple juice and make up to 1 cup with water)
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour, level
  • 1 cup SR flour, heaped
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 24cm square cake tin**
  2. Place the fruit, sugar, pineapple, butter and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add the bicarb, then cool
  4. Fold through the eggs, then the flours
  5. Bake for 1 – 1.5hrs
  6. Turn out and once completely cooled ice with lemon icing.

* Our family recipe was to use one normal sized box of Sunbeam mixed fruit (425g or something like that) with an extra handful of sultanas thrown in.
** Tradition calls for a greased and floured tin then lined with the butter wrapper.

Lemon Icing

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbs butter, softened
  • lemon juice or water to loosen
  1. Mix the icing sugar and butter by hand, adding juice in small amounts until you get a thick but workable icing
  2. Ice cake
  3. Eat!