Recipe reproduced from ‘A Treasury of New Zealand Baking‘ with permission from Tina Duncan. I didn’t use it to feed shearers or as a wedding cake but it was welcomed for morning tea by a visiting neighbour, served for dessert with boysenberry ice cream and kept hunger at bay for a squad of clay target shooters on a wet Saturday afternoon. Half the cake is wrapped in aluminium foil in the freezer while we eat the ‘walnut, prune and apricot slice’ – a coconut shortbread base topped with dried fruit and nuts drizzled with condensed milk also contributed to the book by Tina.
The mixed fruit on sale in the supermarket looked unexciting so I used 400g each of sultanas and raisins, 200g glace cherries (which I love) and 125g raw almonds instead. I guess I just can’t be trusted to leave a recipe (even a good one) alone. You can make pumpkin cake in a slow cooker or for a vegan cake, chocolate zucchini cake.
625g plain flour
500g brown sugar
1.125kg mixed fruit
1 teaspoon mixed spice [I used about one tablespoon]
300ml dark ale [a bottle of Guinness worked well]
1 teaspoon vanilla essence [Heilala is my choice]
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 115 °C. Grease a 25cm square tin and line with baking paper. In a [very] large bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your hands. Add the sugar, fruit and spice. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla. Warm the dark ale in a saucepan on a gentle heat, then add the egg mixture and baking soda. Mix into the dry ingredients and combine well. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
Bake for three and a half hours [mine took all of this, even on fan bake] or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the tin. Cool in the tin. It keeps in an airtight container for months.