Delia

Very Sticky Prune and Date Cake Unlive by Lindsey

Cake making is really easy, but only when the two major rules are followed. Number one is always weigh everything, and number two is always use the right-sized cake tin. For a newcomer investing in some balance scales, this cake alone will justify your investment! Its one of the easiest ever, but with a flavour that is really special – dark and caramelised with lots of luscious fruit.


Makes one 8 in (20 cm) square cake

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.

Very Sticky Prune and Date Cake Unlive by Lindsey
Ingredients
 6 oz (175 g) ready-to-eat dried prunes, roughly chopped
 8 oz (225 g) pitted dates, roughly chopped
 4 oz (110 g) raisins
 4 oz (110 g) currants
 10 oz (275 g) butter
 1 x 397 g tin condensed milk
 5 oz (150 g) plain flour
 5 oz (150 g) wholemeal flour
 pinch salt
 ¾ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
 1 heaped tablespoon chunky marmalade
 2 level tablespoons apricot jam, to glaze
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
Equipment
You will also need one 8 in (20 cm) square cake tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment)

Method

Begin by placing all the fruit in a large-ish saucepan (it needs to be large because the mixture splutters a lot), then add the butter, condensed milk and 10 fl oz (275 ml) of water and bring everything up to the boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture sticking.

Now turn the heat down to low and simmer for exactly 3 minutes, stirring now and then. Don't worry about the appalling look of what will be a very sloppy mixture; this is quite normal. After 3 minutes, transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and let it cool down for about 30 minutes.

While it's cooling, weigh out the flours and sift them into a bowl with a pinch of salt and the bicarbonate of soda (when sieving wholemeal flour you frequently find small quantities of bran left in the sieve: these can be tipped on to the already-sieved flour). When the fruit mixture has cooled, stir in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda using a large metal spoon, then add the marmalade.

Now spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and, because this cake does get rather brown on top if not protected, you should cover it with a double square of greaseproof paper with a hole the size of a 50p piece in the centre. Then pop it on to the centre shelf of the oven and bake for 2-2¼ hours. After removing the cake from the oven, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. Then, when the cake is completely cold, gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water, until all the lumps of jam have dissolved.

Now sieve the jam to remove any pieces of fruit, then brush the glaze all over the top of the cake to make it lovely and shiny. This is quite a large cake that will keep well for several weeks in an airtight tin and even improves, I think, with keeping. If you prefer, you could make this in two 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins and halve the cooking time.

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