After a long time I felt like baking something, and since Pete likes fruit cakes a lot, I decided I would try a new recipe - an eggless one because my mother was coming here (just for a day en route to Chennai). As with any cake recipe I try for the first time, no matter how simple it looks, I was a bit apprehensive about how the cake would turn out, given that it didnt involve eggs. (I've had a few disasters with eggless cakes, as regular readers might know!)
Luckily, fruitcakes are fairly forgiving in the sense that they dont have to be light and airy - a little denseness can be overlooked. But only a little. If a fruitcake feels heavy like a brick and looks like and overdone brick, my suggestion would be not to eat it, but to use it in some kind of construction - perhaps as part of the foundations if you're building a house. Or you could treat it as "dwarf bread", that wonderful baked item that makes its appearance in Terry Pratchett's books - dwarf bread is edible - just - and can be used as emergency rations as it lasts forever... but it is also hard enough to be used as a deadly weapon. Some fruitcakes I've eaten over the years could well have evolved from the Discworld's original dwarf bread!
However, to get back to my cake, this was a keeper of a recipe! The cake was moist and nicely chewy, with a little crunch from the addition of roughly chopped brazil nuts (because my pecans had gone rancid, unfortunately. I hate when that happens.) It was lovely, and the texture and flavour has only become better in the three days since I baked it. Plus, as an added bonus, it's easy to make.
I'll have to admit one thing, though... the cake isnt photogenic, especially when cut into chunks. It's so VERY knobbly and bulging in all directions with fruit and nuts that I just couldnt take a pretty picture of it. I tried and tried but finally had to settle for the piece as it was - bulge, bumps, warts and all. Either that or not post a photo at all, which is unthinkable except in the direst of situations (viz, if there isnt a photo at ALL! *gasp*).
So please, dear readers, dont judge a cake by its outer appearance. Dont bring it out for guests, if you're the kind who only showcases the prettiest and bestest of your attempts in company. But DO try a piece of the cake with a cup of coffee at home, share it with your uncritical loved ones, shove it at family and friends... but do, do, DO try it! It's a pretty gorgeous cake!
The original recipe was apparently taken from a vegetarian cookbook and it says that to make this cake completely vegan, you can substitute the butter with vegan margarine.
Recipe for: Eggless fruit cake
1-1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp mixed spice
2/3 cup margarine
3/4 cup soft brown sugar
3 cups dried fruit (I used sultanas and currants)
1/4 cup chopped brazil nuts
1 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1. Grease a 7" square or round tin and line with greaseproof paper to come an inch above sides of the tin. Spray lightly with Pam.
2. Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice.
3. Rub in margarine, then mix in brown sugar.
4. Stir the fruit and nuts into the mixture.
5. Make a hollow in the centre of the mixture, pour in the water, and stir in lightly.
6. Warm 2 tbsp water slightly and pour over the bicarbonate of soda, then stir it thoroughly into the mixture (but dont beat).
7. Turn mixture into prepared tin.
8. Bake cake at 180°C for an hour or till it is cooked.
Leave in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cut into pieces when cool.