The old-fashioned boiled fruit method is easiest for fruit cakes. It also produces a particularly moist cake which stays fresh for weeks or months in an airtight tin, so you can always have some cake ready for tea.
Vary the ingredients as you like; I often add nuts as well as different dried fruits. Nowadays tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and pineapple are available dried, which gives you great scope.
Roughly chop the apricots and prunes and halve the cherries. Put the butter, sugar and orange juice into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Then add the prepared fruit and the candied peel. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.