Our Favourite Boiled Fruit and Nut Cake


This makes an extra rich, dark and squidgy fruit cake which lasts for months — except that it is always eaten up as soon as I make it! I make several of these cakes at the beginning of the summer holidays, as they are so useful on day-long picnics or boat trips.


  • Coarsely grated rind and juice of 2 large oranges
  • Dark rum or water
  • 175 g (6 oz) butter
  • 175 g (6 oz) muscovado sugar
  • 175 g (6 oz) ready-to-eatprunes, chopped
  • 50 g (2 oz) crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 50 g (2 oz) glace cherries, chopped
  • 125 g (4 oz) sultanas
  • 125 g (4 oz) currants
  • 75 g (3 oz) walnut pieces
  • 250 g (8 oz) plain wholemeal flour, plus a little extra
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 2 large eggs (size 1), beaten lightly


Place the orange juice in a measuring jug, bring up to 300 ml (½ pint) with r um or water and put it in a saucepan with the butter and sugar. Melt the butter and sugar in the liquid over a low heat, then stir in the orange rind, prunes, ginger, cherries, sultanas, currants and walnuts. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Grease a 18 cm (7 in) round deep cake tin or a 15 cm (6 in) deep square one, and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. Dust with flour.

When the fruit mixture is cool, stir together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground cloves. Stir in the mixture from the saucepan, then stir the eggs thoroughly into the fruit and flour mix ture. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 1¼ hours or until the tip of a fine skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave in the tin for about 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a palette knife. Turn out and peel off the paper, then place the cake base-side down on a wire rack to cool completely. If possible, store in an airtight tin and leave for a couple of days before eating.