Irish Spiced Fruitcake is definitely NOT your grandma's fruitcake. It's packed with dried fruit and warm spices, I like it simple and plain or with a smear of Brown Sugar Lemon Curd.
I just knew I’d love this fruitcake.
It conjures memories of my English-born grandfather’s cousins Lyla and Vic who after six decades of marriage, still giggled about their wedding day.
“Poor pensioners” they called themselves. Their home was a small flat on the outskirts of London with a miniature rose garden and a front room with two chairs, a sofa and the telly. Just that, no more. Morning ablutions were simple, aided by a slip of soap, toothbrushes and a travel-size tube of paste. Vic’s well-worn shaving brush and tarnished razor sat nearby. Just that, no more.
Savers and scrimpers, Vic and Lyla managed long visits to Canada and the U.S. at least twice and made their way to southern Europe too, seeking out holiday sun.
When we published a family cookbook in 2002, Lyla shared her recipe for Dundee cake, a sort of fruitcake, writing that she made it for Vic every ten days. The same cake, every ten days!
Just imagine, in today’s world of abundance and moment-to-moment status updates, choosing the same cake again and again, ignoring the new and the novel, the fresh and the inventive.
I just knew I’d love this fruitcake. All this richness cloaked in unassuming simplicity.
IRISH SPICED COFFEECAKE
Time to table: 2-1/2 hours
Makes 1 loaf or 1 round cake, about 16 slices
- 2 cups (270g) mixed dried fruit – dark raisins, golden raisins, currants, dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, snips of dried apricot
- 1/2 cup (35g) toasted nuts – walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 3/4 cup (142g) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (or more) mixed spices – ginger, allspice, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1-3/4 cups (210g) whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
STOVETOP In a saucepan, combine the dried fruit, nuts, butter, sugar, spices, baking soda and milk. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn off heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
OVEN Heat oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan or an 8” or 9” cake pan with baking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Whisk eggs into fruit mixture until well-combined, then work in flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon until no signs of flour show.
Turn batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test the cake’s doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
If it comes out wet or with crumbs on the tester, reduce the heat to 325F and bake until the tester comes out clean, checking every 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Slice and savor, if you like (and I very much do) smeared with a little Brown Sugar Lemon Curd.
There's no reason to save this lovely little cake exclusively for St. Patrick's Day but there are other recipes that for me, are once-a-year specialties, see St. Patrick's Day recipes and Irish recipes.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012
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This Week, Elsewhere
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