Somerset apple brandy fruit cake

Somerset apple brandy fruit cake

How to Cook Cakes
Peter Cassidy

This cake benefits from being started at least 24 hours, but ideally 3 days, before it is cooked, to make it really moist. For a full flavour, choose a good mixture of dried fruit for the cake, such as dried apricots, peaches, dates, figs, pears, prunes, glacé cherries and mixed peel. You will need a 25cm round cake tin.


Quantity Ingredient
400g mixed dried fruit
100g dried apples
100g raisins or sultanas
125g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
125g soft dark brown sugar
50ml water
50ml orange juice
1 lemon, (for zesting and juice)
1 orange, (for zesting and juice)
50ml somerset cider brandy
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cardamom
3 small eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon black treacle
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity apricot glaze, (see note)
1 tablespoon water
250g mixed dried fruit and nuts, such as pecans, brazils, almonds, apricots, peaches, pears, etc.


  1. Dice the mixed dried fruit and dried apples and put in a large saucepan with the raisins, butter, sugar, water and orange juice.
  2. Finely grate the lemon and orange zest and squeeze the juice of both fruit. Add half of both to the pan. Over a medium heat, bring the mixture to the boil, stirring gently. Turn the heat down to as low as possible, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool a little before adding the brandy and spices. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover and keep it cool (but ideally not refrigerated) for 3 days, giving it a stir each day.
  4. The next day, heat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base and sides of the cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease again.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, beat the eggs and treacle together in a small bowl, then gradually beat this egg mixture into the soaked fruit mixture.
  6. Sift the flour and baking powder onto the mixture and fold in well using a large metal spoon or a spatula. The mixture will be quite loose.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 2–2¼ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, or with moist crumbs but no raw mixture attached.
  8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then remove, wrap well in the lining paper and keep it cool until you are ready to serve it.
  9. To decorate the cake, bring the apricot glaze and water to the boil in a small saucepan, then sieve into a bowl. Brush generously over the top of the cake (this will act as the glue). Arrange the fruit and nuts all over the top of the cake, covering as much of the surface as possible, then brush the remaining jam over the surface to glaze it. Tie a ribbon around the cake to decorate. The cake will last for up to 3 months if wrapped carefully in foil and stored in a cool place, but decorate it only when you are ready to serve it.

To make an apricot glaze...

  • Put 250g apricot jam (not whole fruit) into a small saucepan with a finely pared strip or two of lemon zest and heat gently, without stirring, until the jam has melted, without letting it boil. If the jam is very thick add 2–3 tbsp warm water to loosen it, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the zest.
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