The Bake Cake Saga

I just fancy some fruit cake like we used to make it years ago – a Cranks boiled fruit cake. I reject the obvious strategy, which is a campaign of hints to She Who Knows All in the Kitchen (SWKAK). I can do it myself! After all, I’ve done it before, many years ago.

First, find that old Cranks recipe book, in the pile of forty-year-old recipe books in a cupboard. Browning pages, broken seams… A diversionary thought, as I realise that the last time I saw old battered heirlooms like this was when clearing out the cupboards of various deceased relatives. Oh dear!

At last, here it is: Cranks Boiled Fruit Cake. Let’s set to.

First, to boil up the dried fruit in ‘butter’. There’s not enough mixed fruit, so throw in sultanas and raisins. No dates or dried apricots – more sultanas and raisins. No brown sugar – granulated will do. No orange to grate – a lemon will do. No apricot jam – how about strawberry and rhubarb! And there must be minimal butter – some old rejected Trex, some veggie spread and a bit of butter make up the amount. There we go – boil it up.

In the meantime, beat the eggs and add some brandy. Now, where is the brandy – last used on last year’s Christmas pudding. A long search eventually finds it in stored away in the garage. Then, shock horror! The boiled fruit needs to cool down before the eggs are added. Cake availability time is now well past the intended lunchtime.

Prepare the dry ingredients – flour and spices, all of which are in stock, but I do wonder how many decades ground spices are supposed to last…

The fruit mixture is still pretty warm, when impatience forces the issue and the egg mixture is slipped into the fruit. Fortunately, it doesn’t result in sultana and raisin scrambled eggs. The dry ingredients are ‘folded in'(?) Now, where’s the cake tin? There’s the 6-inch tin for little cakes but this needs the 8 inch. After a long search I ask SWKAK. “I told you I threw that rusty thing away years ago.” Then she comes up with a suggestion – “why don’t you use this baking dish.” I’ve never heard of baking a cake in a pot dish before, but there we go – line it with greaseproof paper, tip the mixture in and off we go.

It’s supposed to take 90-120 minutes. At 85 minutes I check and it seems to be ready – the inserted knife comes out clean. Apparently, I didn’t allow for it being on fan, but my theory is that a flatter cake cooks more quickly. Now we have to wait for it to cool.

According to SWKAK, I did it all wrong. Should have lined up all the utensils and ingredients before starting, then it would have gone like clockwork. NOT. It was far more fun my way – a voyage of exploration!

And the cake is delicious!

11 thoughts on “The Bake Cake Saga

    • Hi Wayne, thanks for commenting. I’m a bit wary of breaking Cranks copyright after only 36 years, but there are many similar recipes for boiled fruit cake on the Web…

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  1. SWKAK replies: he’s left out the dramatic bits about the panic that ensued when I said I’d told him I’d thrown away the old cake tins some time ago. He appeared with the jam pan (complete with handle) and suggested he could bake the cake in this. NO!!!! So I suggested the deep ovenproof baking dish would work OK. And wondered why he’d not read the recipe instructions through or checked on the ingredients first, before he embarked on this baking frenzy??! I remember making a comment about the heat in the kitchen before retiring to a safe place, but have to admit that the cake is delicious. The Cranks book he used was published in 1985, not 40 years ago. But yes, there are a couple of battered cookery books (no pun intended) which I still use, which were wedding presents back in 1967…..

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  2. From an experienced home cook, I am sure SWKAK thought it best to stay away from your adventure in the kitchen to let you experience the ups and downs of baking. Sounds like you had an interesting escapade, learned a bit and at least it turned out with a tasty cake. I’m personally not a fan of Christmas pudding, which our American fruit cake derived from, I don’t fancy that either. But I do always enjoy reading about others efforts into areas that aren’t too familiar with. Happy Christmas Barry and SWKAK.

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  3. Gosh, Barry, I hadn’t realized that you excelled in writing humour as well as all your other writing talents. Nor had I realized you had such command of the kitchen! Great post. Btw, we have identically aged cookbooks, complete with stains that remind me of my grandmother’s cookbooks. If I mention that resemblance to my husband he reminds that I AM a grandmother! 🤣😊

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