Boiled Fruit Cake

Now and then my mother sends recipe clippings from magazines that she thinks might be of interest. This Boiled Fruit Cake originates from one of those clippings that had worked its way to the back of the kitchen drawer, almost lost and barely remembered. I found it wedged between the Tenzo notebooks and random slips of paper scrawled with recipe measurements. The name sounded a bit dubious though; boiled cake? But the method it described sounded simple and straight-forward. After a first try-out, I was sold and loved the way the raisins became all plump and juicy.

It is now written into one of the notebooks in indelible ink, so it won’t get lost again in the back of the drawer. I bake it on those occasions that call for a rich fruit cake. It does remind me a bit of Christmas cake, although it’s a heck of a lot easier, doesn’t take a year to cure and certainly not nearly as heavy.

One of the paramitas in Buddhism is to practice patience. This usually comes to mind while waiting for the boiled fruit to cool…

Fruit Cake

300 ml (1¼ cups) water
125 g (½ cup) butter
125 g (¾ cup, not packed)  dark brown sugar
150 g (1 cup, not packed) golden sultanas
150 g (1 cup, not packed) raisins
1 teaspoon mixed spice or cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
50 g (¼ cup) glacé cherries
315 g (2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 large egg

  • Put the water, butter,  brown sugar, sultanas, raisins, mixed spice or cinnamon, and salt into a pot with a lid. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium flame, turn down the flame, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Take off the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Leave to cool, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F).
  • Grease a 20 cm (8”) springform cake tin.
  • In a clean bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  • Cut the glacé cherries into halves.
  • When the fruit mixture has cooled to less than 65 °C (145 °F) stir in the glacé cherries and whisk in the egg.
  • Using a large, shallow metal spoon or firm spatula, reach into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cut and fold the flour into the wet ingredients until just combined. Turn the bowl after each fold so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Work quickly and lightly. Alternatively, beat for a few seconds with an electric beater on low speed and finish with a few folds using a spatula, reaching to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Drop the batter into the cake tin and spread out evenly, using the back of fork.
  • Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Take the cake out of the oven. Wait four minutes, then remove from the cake tin and cool on a wire rack.


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