Men’s Cooking Class Make a Boiled Fruit Cake

And it looked fantastic.

The recipe we used is a traditional favourite with a few tweaks. The gentlemen added brandy to the mix – more about that later, and I added a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa to the recipe for colour and a new level of flavour.

We used a mix of dried fruit for our 375g total: raisins, packaged mixed fruit, currants and sultanas.



We made our own spice mix: cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves.


That brandy! One of the gentlemen brought along to class a bottle of homemade cumquat brandyand very generously gave everyone a slurp for their cake. It smelt divine. He had made it by steeping cumquats that had been washed and pricked all over with a skewer, and  soaked in about 1 litre of brandy with a little sugar for 12 months.

This cake is a perfect option for Christmas. No long soaking of the fruit, or triple lining of the cake pan, this recipe is user-friendly and quick to put together. Always moist, it comes into it’s own for Christmas, or is perfect for afternoon tea or supper. Spread with butter, in the Aussie style, a slice is the perfect partner to a nice cup of tea.

I think the crushed pineapple, as well as adding a delicious moistness to the cake, is also a little bit like adding glace fruit to the cake – except easier and much, much cheaper. Please feel free to add some glace fruits to the recipe if you like. Apricot, ginger and fig come to mind.


  • 375G total weight dried fruits. Use a packaged mix or make up your own mix, including sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, prunes, cherries, citron. Whatever you fancy. I recommend making 1/4 of the weight up in sultanas, and the rest of the weight in whatever dried and glace fruits take your fancy.

  • 1 x 440g tin of crushed pineapple

  • 125g butter

  • 1 cup of soft brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa – not drinking chocolate

  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice. Use a pre-made mixed spice( not allspice) or make up your own personal mix

  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest

  • 2 tablespoons of brandy,whiskey or sherry – totally optional

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 1 cup of plain flour

  • 1 cup of self-raising flour

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 1 tsp of vanilla paste

  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt

Into a large, heavy pan put the dried fruits, the pineapple and its juice, the butter, the sugar, the spices, the bicarb soda and the orange zest.


Put the pan on a low heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently.

Raise the heat to medium and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. You must stir it often. The mixture will want to stick to the bottom of the pan, and if it does it will probably burn.

Cool the mixture to room temperature ( or put it away in the fridge until you are ready to make your cake)

Now add the beaten eggs, the two different flours, the salt, the vanilla, the alcohol, if you are using any, and the cocoa.

Mix it all up really well.


Smell how beautiful it is, and look at how luscious your mixture looks.

Tip the mixture into your lined cake-tin (very lightly grease your cake tin so the paper will stick to the tin and not flap about and line with baking paper) This gentleman had brought along a very nice loose bottom sqare cake tin. The photo shows how we took out the base of the cake tin to line it with baking paper.  The sides of the tin (not shown) were also lightly greased and lined with baking paper. Loose bottom cake tins make light work of lining the tin and removing the cake from the tin once it’s cooked


Drop the tin of cake mixture from a height of about 10cm or so onto the bench a couple of times. This will even out the mixture in the tin and knock out any air bubbles that may be lurking in the mixture. The air bubbles would show up as holes and sunken bits in the cake after it was baked.

Bake your cake in a moderate – 180C / 350-375F oven for about 2 hours.

After 2 hours test to see if your cake is done by sticking a skewer or satay stick straight down into the middle of the cake. If it comes out with wet cake mixture on it the cake needs more time. Be sure you differentiate between wet cake mixture and sticky wetness because the skewer has pierced the fruit.

Cool in the tin.

When cold, store in an airtight tin at room temperature.


Sorry there are no pictures of the finished cakes – the gentlemen took them home to bake at their leisure.

🙂  you’ll just have to bake your own to find out how good it really is!



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