Fabulous fruit cake

Photo of fruit cake
Delicious. A more perfect fruit cake is hard to find.

I committed a crime for this cake.  I was young and foolish, and the young man I was walking out with had just been visited by his mother.  In his Auckland flat I knew there had to be one of her fruit cakes.

My brother and I were beside ourselves, we hadn’t had fruit cake since the last time, and that was weeks ago.

It didn’t take long to break into the little student flat, rootle through the cupboards and get straight to the cake tin.  Actually, I think I was probably led astray because this is not the sort of behaviour I would normally undertake.

Perfect cake

It was, of course, worth it, and we didn’t get caught.  The cake, as always, was delicious.  It is crispy on top, and beautifully soft and tasty on the inside.  A more perfect cake is hard to find.

Clearly, I needed to not only marry the young man in question, but get my hands on the recipe.

Which, a few years later, I managed to do.  Gwen gave me the recipe and off I went to make it.

It was a total baking disaster.  I went to her farmhouse kitchen in Gordonton and asked her to show me what she did.  And what she did was not to follow the recipe she’d given me at all.

“It says to do this, but I never bother.  I just add that and twirl this…” she said, as she whipped up a perfect cake.

I watched her like a hawk and made a note of everything.  And ever since I’ve been making perfect cakes and haven’t had to break into anyone’s house.

You can even make two at a time, and freeze one for later.  They are said to keep well in a tin, but ours seem to disappear fairly quickly. Give it a try.


Gwen’s fruit cake

450g sultanas
225g butter
3 eggs
350g sugar
350g flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 170°C.

Melt a little additional butter and grease the cake tin.  Line tin with greaseproof paper – cut out two circles of paper using the base.  The cut a length of paper that will go around inside the tin.

Fold this piece into three lengthways and brush each section with the melted butter.  Line the tin and butter the top surface of the paper.

  • In a large saucepan, cover sultanas with hot water, and boil for about 10 minutes.  Drain, well.  Add roughly chopped butter into the hot sultanas.  The idea is for the butter to melt, so mix them around a little.
  • Separate egg yolks and put aside. In another large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Then add yolks one at a time and beat.
  • Slowly add the sugar and mix. Sift flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.
  • Add the sultanas and butter, stirring with a wooden spoon.  A bit of muscle is needed, or a cake mixer (my one is called David.)

Pour into the lined cake tin and bake for about 1 ½ hours, depending on oven.  Check after about an hour by slipping a knife into the middle, if it comes out with mixture on it, more time is needed.

Once cooked, remove from tin, let cool, and lock away from visitors.


  • Photo of ginger crunchThere’s a lot more gorgeous baking recipes to be found on N8N, how about a tasty ginger crunch? Easy peasy.  Look here!
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