The Easiest Fruit Cake. Ever. (Last minute Xmas Cake)

The pieces of ginger are clearly seen in the clices.
The easiest fruit cake ever.

The easiest fruit cake ever.

Yes, yes, I know, you don’t like fruit cake. Nothing personal, but…it’s just not your thing.

You’re aware that it’s a tradition, but you really just think you’ll pass this time — Okay?

Nope.

Not happening.

You have to try this cake.  If I had a dollar for every time someone who detested fruit cake then told me how much they ♥LURVED♥ this one, I’d have enough to make many more of them.

This group of people includes The Boy, who was *adamant* that I do a post on it!

Yum!

Yum!

I must confess that I don’t like your regular, traditional dark fruit cake either. It does nothing for me at all.

In fact, when my 19 year old self was copying the original handwritten recipe from my grandmother’s notes sometime last century, I wondered if I was going nuts. I mean, seriously… why would I want to make a fruit cake? However, in the interest of preserving things for posterity, and thinking my mother might like one sometime, I kept on with it.

Many years later, I decided to update it a bit. I find sultanas travel best in small quantities, but whole cakes full of them are rather uninteresting.

Note: I know this recipe doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a budget dish, the fruit is not inexpensive (about $10), but we should all have at least one special occasion card up our sleeves and this is a special occasion dish.

Master Cake decorator, I am not.

Master Cake decorator, I am not.

I changed the dried fruit in the recipe to a fruit medley product I found in the supermarket that contained dried apples, peaches, pears and apricots – alongside a small quantity of sultanas.

Angas Park Fruit Medley rocks.

Angas Park Fruit Medley rocks.

The weight (375g) wasn’t quite up to the 500g that was called for, so I decided to make it up with something a little bit special.

I am a ginger fiend. I love the stuff. So, when I saw 125g packs of glacé ginger from our friends at Buderim, I knew that had to go in as well.

Glace ginger

Glace ginger

It did and it was a triumph.

I’ve even served this up to our Governor-General and his wife, and can proudly boast it has Vice-Regal approval. So there.

If you don’t like ginger (wha..?) feel free to substitute glacé cherries instead. If you must.

Also, there is no alcohol in this recipe. If you absolutely must have booze, you may wish to use it to soak your dried fruit, I give no guarantees as to the results having never tried it this way.

This is the easiest, simplest cake to make. It takes about 10 mins of preparation – total.

It will disappear in about the same amount of time (once you get past all the “but I don’t like fruit cake…” stuff).

Don’t bother getting your electric beaters out for it, they’ll struggle. Instead, arm the nearest, largest child with a wooden spoon and get them to mix it. Say it’s a tradition. Invoke Santa and good and bad lists if you must.

Do this even if it’s August and you’re serving it that evening.

You will need a large bowl and a mug. The mug is important.

The mug.

The mug.

This is the mug I have always used for this recipe. It doesn’t matter which mug you use (you can’t have mine, sorry), but try to use the same one throughout. It’s a matter of proportions, you see.

Empty your 500g of dried fruit into a large bowl and then add a mug of hot, black tea. Leave overnight. Only soak your dried fruit, any glacé fruit will be added later.

Soak your fruit overnight

Soak your fruit overnight

It will plump up and start looking luscious. My fridge was rather full when I did this part, so I used a smaller bowl for it.

The next day, cut your glacé fruit into quite large chunks (or leave whole) and mix through the soaked fruit.

Add your glaced fruit to your soaked

Add your glaced fruit to your soaked

I’ve discovered over the years that small pieces just disappear into the background and that – strangely! – some people don’t like ginger.

Leaving the pieces on the large side means that you get a definite zing from them and it’s easy to pick them out if they aren’t wanted.

The pieces of ginger are clearly seen in the clices.

The pieces of ginger are clearly seen in the slices.

Now, lightly beat your egg and mix it through the fruit. It’s much easier to do this now than after adding the dry ingredients, trust me on this.

Working in your large bowl now, sift in two mugs of self-raising flour and then add one mug of brown sugar. Stir.

Add your fruit to your dry ingredients.

Add your fruit to your dry ingredients.

This will be a stiff mix, there may be enough liquid left in your fruit to make a batter, or there may not. It depends on ambient humidity and the relative positions of the stars…

Should your mix be too dry, simply add splashes of plain old water until it all comes together. It will look something like this.

The mixed batter.

The mixed batter.

Using a spatula, scrape into a lined cake tin of whatever shape you fancy. I usually bake this cake in a silicon, Christmas tree-shaped cake mould, simply because I have one.

Deck the halls...

Deck the halls…

Bake at 160ºC or 325ºF for 2 hours, turning the pan at the halfway point.

Allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, before turning out to finish cooling on a rack.

I cut off the “muffin top” to create a flat base. The removed piece then becomes the Cook’s treat. Ahem. It’s the only bit I let myself eat of this or I would be in deep trouble, both calorically and blood sugar-wise. The cake then gets turned over for presentation.

Slice off the muffin top for easy preparation. Use a serrated knife.

Slice off the muffin top for easy preparation. Use a serrated knife.

It’s the underside of this ‘crusty bit’ that you’ve seen in the pictures of slices above.

Decorate and serve.

Brace yourself for all the “I don’t like fruitcake” claims.

You have been warned.

Easy Fruit Cake

  • Servings: 15
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

500g dried fruit (or a mix of dried fruit and glacé fruit). Use whatever mix of soft, dried fruit you like, just make sure that the pieces are all around the same size.

1 mug hot black tea

1 large egg

2 mugs self raising flour

1 packed mug brown sugar

Method

Soak dried fruit in hot tea overnight.

Heat oven to 160ºC or 325ºF.

Cut glacé fruit into large chunks and mix through soaked fruit.

Beat the egg with a fork and mix through the fruit.

In a large bowl sift Self Raising Flour and add in brown sugar, breaking up any lumps.

Add the fruit, stirring with a wooden spoon or large spatula until a stiff batter forms. If the mix is too dry and flour remains unincorporated, add splashes of cold water until it is all mixed in.

Place batter in a prepared tin (a regular loaf or square pan will work well) and bake for 2 hours in the top third of the oven.

Turn the tin at the 1 hour mark.

Cake is baked when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 mins before turning out.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

This cake freezes well, either whole or in slices for a lunch box treat.

All gone...

All gone…

Porridge (microwave)

All you need for porridge

Well, I’m back.

I’ve had a number of technological nightmares with the latest being a computer that doesn’t know what to do with .exe files. If you don’t know about computers, then suffice it to say that that’s BAD. If you speak Geek, then you know just how bad it is. And exhausting.

So, to ease myself back into this blogging thingo, and to help ease any withdrawal symptoms you may have been having (Nawww!), I’m going to give you something that is about as simple as it gets.

Porridge. Microwaved porridge to be more specific.

Now I know it’s starting to warm up here in the antipodes, but some of the mornings have enough of a chill about them to still warrant a heartier, tummy-warming breakfast. In the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn has started and nothing more needs to be said.

So I’ll write a bit instead.

During the $30 Challenge, Porridge formed our staple breakfast. It’s quick, inexpensive, nutritious, fibre-laden and filling.

Many years ago, Uncle Toby’s made boxes of porridge with little sachets of different flavoured porridges. My favourite in the box was the apricot and wheat one – then they discontinued it. They kept making the product, but not with that flavour. So I thought I’d make my own.

It was then that I realised just how much more I had been paying for a tiny bit of convenience. Really, with a little planning, it is much better to make your own.

Get yourself a packet of Rolled Oats. Not Minute Oats, but Traditional Rolled Oats.

Then buy some dried fruit. This could be whatever you like; I started with diced, dried apricots and then Craisins came on the market so I used those too. You could use sultanas, dried apples, dried cherries, acai or goji berries if you have a hipster bent… It’s your meal, experiment, find your bliss.

You’ll also need liquid of some kind, be it cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk or even water if you prefer.

All you need for porridge

All you need for porridge

I bought myself a couple of hinged lunch boxes, like the one in the photo above, and keep my oats in one and my fruit in the other. The hinged lids saved a lot of fumbling in my sleep-addled work day mornings. They aren’t strictly necessary, but they make life more comfortable.

A small scoop lives in the oat box. The one pictured was a Tupperware party favour many years ago but, for something around the same size, try saving (and washing thoroughly) the little scoop you get in boxes of laundry powder. I use two scoops per serve.

Another very useful thing is a microwaveable soup cup. The one you see in the pic is Tupperware. But you can buy much cheaper versions in any supermarket. I like these as they lend themselves to running around the house like a mad thing getting ready for work and still being able to eat breakfast before you leave…

Or make your porridge in a microwaveable bowl covered with a splash screen of some kind. You could use a piece of paper towel, but clear, plastic, reuseable ones can be bought for a dollar or so in most variety stores and supermarkets and will save you money in the long run.

So here goes. Pay attention, or you’ll miss something important.

Like breakfast.

First, place your oats into your mug/bowl/whatever. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup.

1/2 to 1/3 cup of rolled oats.

1/2 to 1/3 cup of rolled oats.

Then add whatever dried fruit you like. This is purely optional, but it does add colour, texture, flavour and sweetness – and makes it yours. You only need a pinch or so, not a huge amount. This photo shows the entire amount of fruit added.

Add a few pieces of dried fruit

Add a few pieces of dried fruit

Add just enough liquid to cover the oats, stir, cover the dish and microwave at 80% power for one minute.

Add your milk, stir, cover and nuke.

Add your milk, stir, cover and nuke.

Remove from the oven, stir, add a little more milk and repeat the 80% power for one minute stage.

Done.

If your oats boil over – and this is a definite possibility – try again with either a lower power setting or shorter time. Don’t skip adding the second bit of liquid as it will help to reduce the temperature and the risk of porridge volcanoes.

The same oats, now cooked

The same oats, now cooked

The oats will continue to absorb liquid and become creamier on standing.

I used to make my oats and morning cup of tea, then shower. By the time I’d done that, both had cooled sufficiently to consume.

Feel free to add more liquid, stirring well, and some sweetener of your choice; honey, golden syrup or maple syrup work well, as does sugar of any kind – just don’t overdo it.

After you’ve finished, I would suggest filling your container with water before you rush out the door. It will be much, MUCH easier to wash when you get home in the evening.  Trust me.

If you wish to up the fibre content for any reason and you can afford it, try adding a tablespoon or so of chia to the mix. It will absorb a lot more liquid though, so be sure to compensate.

You could also just pop all the dry ingredients into your sealed soup mug and cook them up in the office if you are really pressed for time. Just remember to bring your mug home for tomorrow’s fast breaker!

So there it is.

Better yet, the amount of money that will buy you a box of sachets for 8 meals, will buy you the ingredients for several more weeks worth of home-compiled breakfasts that you can tailor to your preferences. And give you oats and dried fruit for other goodies like Anzac Biscuits and Apple Crumble.