Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Chunky Fig, Apricot and Prune Cake
This moist, lightly spiced, fruit-packed cake, devised by my friend, Nikki Duffy, is a bit different from your average fruit cake, with its citrussy aromatics and slightly chunkier dried fruit. I absolutely love it. A thick slice is fantastic with morning tea or coffee, and a wedge wrapped in greaseproof paper is perfect in a lunchbox. It will keep well in a tin for a week or more. Should you find, as can be the case with fruit cakes, that your fruit sinks, it probably means the batter isn’t stiff enough. Make sure you stick to the quantities in the recipe, and fold the fruit in as lightly as you can. But don’t worry too much - a fruit-on-the-bottom-cake is no great tragedy.
225g light wholemeal cake flour or spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1 rounded teaspoon ground mixed spice
150g dried figs
150g stoned prunes
150g dried apricots
85g orange marmalade
Finely grates zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g light muscovado sugar
4 medium eggs
Lightly grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and spice into a bowl and whisk lightly to aerate and combine.
Use kitchen scissors to cut the dried fruit into chunky pieces – cut each fig into about 6, removing the hard stalk, and each prune and apricot into 2 or 3. Combine them in a bowl. Beat the marmalade with a fork to loosen it, then stir in the lemon and orange zest. Combine the marmalade with the dried fruit.
Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat well until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour/spice mix with each. Fold in the remaining flour with a large metal spoon, then fold in the marmalade and dried fruit as lightly as you can. Try not to overmix it; everything should be just combined.
Spoon into the prepared tin and place in an oven preheated to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Bake for 1½hours, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
Hot fruit cake with vanilla ice cream
You can make a very lovely pud with this, or any other fruit-laden cake, by gently frying thick slices of the cake in a little butter for a couple of minutes on each side, until thoroughly warmed through. Dish up each slice with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream.
© From “River Cottage Every Day”, published October 2009 (Bloomsbury Publishing)