Jewel box

Jewel box

Australian panforte

The Birthday Cake Book
Laura Edwards

Based on an old Australian recipe, this cake is simplicity itself to make and is packed with whole nuts and fruits, bound with a little butterless cake batter. If you prefer, you could make a more tasteful, reserved cake using dark, undyed cherries.

For the cake


Quantity Ingredient
unsalted butter, for the tin
180g whole brazil nuts
180g whole pecan nuts
180g multi-coloured glace cherries
100g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
140g golden caster sugar
250g dates, stoned but whole
50g raisins
100 g of large pieces candied peel, roughly chopped
1 unwaxed lemon, finely zested
50g crystallised stem ginger, roughly chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum, or to taste, plus more to feed (optional)

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
350g multi-coloured glace cherries, halved
3 tablespoons apricot jam
squeeze lemon juice

Special equipment

Quantity Ingredient
25 cm square cake board
80cm 4 cm-wide bejewelled ribbon


  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/fan 130°C. Butter a 20 cm, 7.5 cm deep square cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Wrap with a collar of brown paper tied with string.
  2. Roast the whole nuts on a baking tray for about 10 minutes. If necessary, rinse the cherries of excess syrup: place in a sieve and run under warm water. Dry carefully with kitchen paper.
  3. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, and stir in the sugar. Tip all the whole fruits and candied peel into a large mixing bowl, add the whole nuts, lemon zest and ginger. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and add the flour mixture. Tip the batter into the prepared tin. Make a graphic pattern with the halved cherries all over the top. Bake for 1 ½–2 hours, or until a skewer emerges clean.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack. When cool, prick with a skewer between the cherries and spoon over the rum. Carefully remove from the tin, remove the papers and place on the cake board. Gently warm the apricot jam, press it through a sieve if necessary, mix with the lemon juice and brush all over the cherries to glaze. Add the bejewelled ribbon to the sides of the cake. It will keep for a week or so wrapped in foil in an airtight tin. Feed occasionally with a little more rum, if you wish.
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