Some days just demand cake - wet, blustery, grey, meh kind of days are always lifted by the addition of home-baked treats. The go to staple cake here is a fruit loaf - simple, quick to put together and easily adapted to whatever you happen to have to hand. I think this recipe started off in one of my Mum's original cook books as I remember her making them when we were kids - Mum and Dad fostered and Mum also day-minded little ones, so there were always lots of kids in and out of the house and there was no way they were going to be buying things in when they could be made inexpensively and in quantities. I remember coming home after school to kitchen surfaces covered in cooling trays, with sweet and savoury pasties - jam; apple; bacon and onion, cheese and potato - whatever was left over, needed using up or there was only a little bit of, so pasties or pies made them go further, then some weeks there were fairy cakes (when did they stop being fairy cakes and start being cupcakes?), jam tarts (often two or three coloured to use up the end of jars), marble cakes - basic quick and easy sponge with jam or fruit puree stirred through or two batches of cake batter in the same pan which looked brilliant when sliced and then loaf cakes -fruit loaf - warm spicy and fragrant has long been my favourite a real comfort food that has much to do with the way it makes the whole house smell as it does to the taste - although that's pretty good too!
Looking at the measurements I obviously metricated it at one point or other (probably for school!)
Fruit Loaf Cake
Grease and Line a 2lb loaf tin and set the oven to Gas mark 4/180c/350F
125g margarine or butter chopped in small pieces
200ml milk (I use soya or cashew)
175g dried fruit (this weekend's was 2/3 sultanas, 1/3 apple)
175g sugar (this weekend's was demerara)
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice (mine was heaped!)
1 beaten egg
Put fat, milk, fruit and sugar into large saucepan and heat GENTLY until fat has melted and sugar dissolved.
Cool slightly ( I usually leave it for at least 20 minutes in a cool room and stir it frequently to speed this bit up - nothing worse than scrambled egg when you wanted cake!).
Beat in the flour, spice, baking powder and bicarb until well combined, then mix in the egg until that is also combined. BREATHE IN - the smell will put a smile on your face!
Pour into the tin, tap to level and get any air bubbles out and then bake for approx an hour. It's done when your skewer/knife comes out clean.
This weekend mine did in 50 minutes and I had to put a piece of foil over the top after about 30 so it didn't catch too much on the top - you could be organised and pop it on at the start but you'll have to remember to take it off about half way through and leave plenty of room for a rise - I prefer popping it on once I know the cake has risen and the crust formed.
Allow to cool enough to be able to slice! - it is really tasty warm, if it survives a couple of days it makes a great tea-bread with a spot of butter or nut butter spread on it and if it survives to go slightly dry then pop in microwave for 30 seconds and serve with custard or cram or ice-cream (but really - how did it last?)
Variations - all apple and cinnamon is delicious, sultanas, raisins and chopped apricot is lovely especially with just a tad of extra nutmeg, just sultanas and raisins works great too. I have even chopped in leftover glace cherries and bits of dried pineapple if they need using up. I have some home-made prunes here so may try those the next time. I haven't tried pear but I bet that would be nice with ginger and muscovado sugar......mmm anyone got a glut of pears they have dried?
No pictures for this one - it didn't last long enough!