Old recipes are always the best recipes. This whiskey cake recipe was given to me by a lady from Lurgan, Northern Ireland. Intensely dark and moist, it is very easy to make. This is a traditional boiled fruit cake, so called because part of the fruit mixture is boiled before adding it into the cake batter.
The old housewife trick of liberally lacing a little extra whiskey over the top of the cake once it is freshly baked increases the shelf life and in creating this intensely flavoured cake, which remains wonderfully moist even for up to a week, if stored tightly wrapped in an airtight container. The boiling method also means there is no creaming of butter and sugar involved, so the stove actually does the work for you. The mixed dried fruits are soaked in whiskey and spices before being boiled with butter and sugar. Though you’ll be tempted to eat the plump, liquor-soaked fruit straight from the pot, the sacrifice of leaving it be, will be worth it.
The world would be set to rights over slices of whiskey cake and tea and a sing song in the Irish parlour!
IRISH WHISKEY CAKE Makes one 20cm Cake
1 pound (450g) mixed fruit (dried fruits and mixed peel)
2 ounce (50g) glacé cherries
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 Cup (100ml) Irish whiskey
1/2 Cup (100ml) orange juice
1 stick (100g) butter
2/3 Cup 175g golden superfine sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
3/4 Cup (100g) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking (bicarbonate of soda)
1. Grease and line a 8in (20cm) deep square (or round) cake tin with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mixed fruit, cherries, mixed spice, whiskey and orange juice. Stir and allow to sit for one hour, if possible.
3. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the sugar and stir for five minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Add all the soaked fruit and all the juices from the mixing bowl. Increase the heat and gently simmer the mixture uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and return the warm mixture to the mixing bowl. Allow to cool fully before covering and setting aside for eight hours to allow the fruit to soften further.
5. After eight hours, preheat an oven to 400F (190C) degrees. Stir the mixture well, before mixing in the eggs until evenly incorporated.
6. Sieve together the flour and bread soda and in three batches fold the sieved ingredients through the fruit mixture (the mixture will remain quite moist, which is normal).
7. Transfer the mixture into the lined cake tin and first bake in the preheated oven on a high heat 375F (190C) fan for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325F (170C) degrees and continue baking for a further 50 minutes, by which time the cake will be dark treacle-like in colour, and will be firm.
8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Wrap tightly and store in an airtight container for one or two weeks in a cool dark place, feeding it with a teaspoon of whiskey each week to keep it moist. Serve in squares (or slices).
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