February 2, 2024

Rich fruit cake with Italian meringue

Clouds of meringue float on this rich fruit cake, combining for a few spoonfuls of dessert decadence.

fruit cake recipe

Rich fruit cake with Italian meringue
10 with plenty of leftover cake to enjoy (or halve cake recipe)

for fruit cake
400g raisins
400g sultanas
110g currants
250g quartered red glacé cherries
250g pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
zest and juice of one orange
120g honey
125ml brandy + 2 tbsp, extra
250g butter, softened but not melted
200g firmly packed Muscovado sugar
5 eggs
185g plain flour

Combine fruit, orange zest and juice, honey and brandy in large bowl, cover, allow to steep at least overnight.

Preheat oven to 150C. Line base and sides of deep 20cm square cake pan with four thicknesses of baking paper, bringing paper 5cm above sides of pan. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until just combined, beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined between additions (mixture may curdle at this point, but will come together later). Add butter mixture to fruit mixture with flour. Spread mixture into pan and smooth the top.  Tap cake pan on the bench to break up any air bubbles. Cover surface with a double layer of baking paper and then cover tin loosely with foil. Allow to cook for 3 hours. Remove cake from oven, brush with extra brandy. Cover pan tightly with foil, cool cake in pan. Cake will keep well-wrapped for about a month and can also be frozen. For this dessert, cut rounds of cake with a 6cm cutter to a height of about 2.5cm.

for crème patisserie
250ml milk
300ml pure (thin) cream
zest ½ orange
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp cornflour, sifted

Place milk, cream and zest in a pan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point, then remove from heat. Whisk yolks and sugar together in a bowl until thick and pale. Add flours, then stir in cream mixture. Transfer to a clean pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 3-4 minutes until very thick. Transfer to a bowl. Cover surface with baking paper. Cool to room temperature, then chill. Pipe a dome of creme patissiere on top of the rich fruit cake disc.

for italian meringue
100g caster sugar
25ml water
dash of orange essence
50g egg white, approximately 2 eggs

Put sugar and water into a small saucepan over a medium heat with a thermometer resting in liquid, but not touching bottom of pan. Start to slowly whisk egg whites in a stand-mixer until just starting to foam. Heat sugar until it reaches 121C, then slowly pour into egg whites while still whisking. Let liquid run along side of bowl, as this allows syrup to cool a little before mixing with egg whites. Whisk until mixture has cooled to room temperature. Put into a piping bag with a smooth nozzle and pipe rings around the dome of patisserie cream on the fruit cake disc. You may like to torch the meringue for effect.

These cakes can be made two days beforehand.


This article first appeared in the September 2023 issue of SALIFE magazine

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