This light cake is ideal for midweek eating. Unlike the creamed rich fruit cake, this version has lightness with added baking powder. Even though it is a homely cake, I still like to draw attention to its special nature by sprinkling the top with nuts or crushed cube sugar or even sparkling preserving sugar. The richness is provided by the butter.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm (8in) deep square cake tin or a 23cm (9in) deep round tin.
Sift 500g (lib) plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 2 teaspoons mixed spice into a bowl. Rub in 250g (8oz) butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in 125g (4oz) each of brown sugar and caster sugar.
Beat 2 eggs with 6 tablespoons milk and the finely grated rind of 1 lemon. Beat into the cake mixture with a wooden spoon, until a smooth dropping consistency is achieved. If the mixture is too dry add a little extra milk and beat in. Carefully fold in 500g (1lb) dried mixed fruit with a large metal spoon.
Spoon into the tin, levelling the top. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and bake for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 160°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3 and continue baking for about another hour. Test for doneness with a skewer. Cool in the tin for 1 hour, then turn out and invert on to a wire rack to cool.