This was a special request bake for the good man's birthday. Based on the brilliant Anna Olson's recipe, with a few changes, it makes two cakes, which is handy considering the amount of time that goes into preparation and baking. Don't expect a tall cake in the traditional sense, think along the lines of low and elegant. There was no chance to test how well and long the cakes would keep as these lovelies disappeared in no time.
Makes 2 9"/23cm round fruit cakes
1 cup diced candied orange peel 160g 2 cups raisins 300g 1 cup dried cranberries 140g 1 cup chopped pitted prunes 150g 1/2 cup dried currants 75g 1/2 cup dried apricots 70g 1/4 cup finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger 40g 1 cup Port (or the tipple of your choice: sherry, brandy) 250ml 1/2 cup orange juice 125ml 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 225g 1 cup dark brown sugar 180g 3 large eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup ground almonds 75g 2 cups all-purpose flour 280g 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup Port 60ml + 125ml 1 cup chopped pecans 110g 32 whole pecans for garnish (optional)
For the fruit soak, toss the candied orange peel and all of the dried and candied fruits together with the Port, orange juice, orange zest, lemon zest and ginger. Cover and chill this mixture at least overnight, up to 3 days, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 300˚F/Gas 2/150˚C and grease 2 9"/23cm round cake pans
Beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the ground almonds.In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and stir this into the batter. Stir in ¼ cup/60ml of the Port. Fold the chopped pecans into the batter then add the soaked fruits, stirring well to coat the fruit. Spoon this into the prepared pans and spread to level. If you wish, arrange pecans on the top of the cakes in a ring. Bake the cakes for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.While still hot from the oven, brush the tops of the fruitcakes with some of the remaining ½ cup/125ml of Port. Brush again once or twice as the cakes cool, then remove the cakes from their pans and wrap well till you are ready to serve.