Boiled fruit cake


  • 500g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (generous) cup mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


This recipe appears to have been recommended by one Nurse Porteus, who is reported to have said, 'you will like this cake' and advises that 'no one ever suspects the dripping'. It was possibly a wartime or depression-era recipe, as it requires neither eggs nor butter. Since we are fortunate enough not to have to comply with austerity measures of similar degree, we have used butter here, as the modern palate may be averse to the taste and texture of dripping. You may also like to increase the amount or variety of dried fruit and add nuts if you please.


Put the butter, sugar, fruit and spices in a saucepan with 1 cup of hot water over low heat. Heat gently until the butter and sugar have melted, then simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ÂșC. Grease a 20cm square or 21cm round cake tin and line with baking paper. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and gradually add the cooled fruit mixture, stirring to combine with a wooden spoon.

Bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Check after 45 minutes that the top isn't browning too quickly; if so, cover the top of the cake with two sheets of baking paper.

Have you tried this recipe?

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