Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ranchman cake (irish boiled fruitcake)

My irish mother-in-law gave me this recipe and she got it from her American grandmother. I'd not heard of a Ranchman cake but when I saw the recipe I realised it was a boiled fruitcake. The boiling part is actually the boiling of the dried fruit, sugars and liquid rather than the whole cake.

It is a very moist cake and a much lighter version than the fruitcake you get in Christmas or wedding cakes. It doesn't contain any alcohol - something that heavier fruitcakes usually include. It stores very well and is good as a teatime treat.

I've tweaked the original recipe a little just to personal taste and how I am wanting to use it but the basic recipe for a boiled fruitcake have the same ingredients.

Begin by measuring 2 cups of currants and 1 cup sultanas into a pan (you can use different dried fruit here if you prefer).

Add to this a cup of soft brown sugar (dark or light will give different flavours and textures), 2 tbsp golden syrup, 110g (about half a cup) butter, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinammon, 1 tsp ground ginger and a cup of cold tea (or just water or alternatively milk- I like using tea since you can't taste the tea (I am not a tea drinker!) but it adds a nice hint to the cake).

Put on a medium heat and bring to the boil- simmer for about 5 minutes.

The fruit should all plump up and all the sugars dissolve.

This stage is similar to preparing dates for sticky toffee pudding although you won't blitz the fruit in this case. After this time remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool.

Then add two eggs.

Mix into the fruit mix. Then add two cups of self-raising flour.

Mix everything together.

Grease a square tin (I used a 9 inch) and line with baking paper and then grease again. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees C (some recipes bake it at 180 degrees C but I think it works better slow cooking it). Bake for between an hour to an hour and a half- check that a squewer comes out clean and then it is cooked.

Allow to cool and serve in slices.

Though it keeps really well, unless I know I am serving a lot of people or have lots of visitors due over a few days, instead when I make one of these I will cut it into quarters, keep one for eating that day (or the next one!) and wrap three of the quarters in foil and freeze- then I just defrost it as needed. Great as an addition to a summer picnic and you can just grab it from the freezer as you leave.

It is lovely on its own or spread with a little butter. My husband HATES sultanas and currants and so this is a rare recipe that hasn't gained his approval though my girls give it the thumbs up!

Til soon....

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