Rum and Raisin Cake

Rum and Raisin Cake

The first cookery book I ever bought was the 1982 paperback edition of Poor Cook by Susan Campbell and Caroline Conran.

Poor Cook 1982

It was on the recommendation of a friend who said she liked it because the recipes usually didn’t require a trip out to the shops with a list as long as your arm of ingredients. Since then, we’ve drifted away from that kind of cooking, so that now a trip out to buy ingredients is the norm, and cooking becomes a performance.

Whipping up a batch of scones or making a cut-and-come-again cake shouldn’t warrant any drama so recipes which you can make from the contents of your cupboards are always going to be a comfort. The Apple Cake recipe in Great British Bakes is another such recipe – also egg-free, and proportional, so you can scale it to however many apples you have to hand.

Which brings me to this week’s recipe.

Aside from being moist, tender and delicious, this cake is great to have in your repertoire because it is made from store-cupboard staples, doesn’t require eggs and can easily be made both gluten and dairy free. It’s simple and straightforward, basically a 2-bowl recipe: mix wet, mix dry, mix together, put in tin, bake.

If it has a down side, it’s the slow cooking time (1 hour), but if you’re anything like me, a 1 hour wait is a small price to pay for being able to avoid a trip out to the shops before you can treat yourself.

I’ve made this recipe with a number of different flours from stone-ground wholemeal bread, through barley to gluten-free. The gluten-free version was extremely tender, to the point of crumbling when sliced. Nice, but a bit tricky to eat politely as a slice – crumbled into a bowl with cream or ice-cream, glorious! The wholemeal bread flour was firmer, but still much more tender and moist that your average fruit cake. Switch out the butter for coconut butter to make it dairy-free.

You can vary the liquid and spices to suit your own personal tastes. The original recipe used all water and a mixture of cinnamon and cloves. I’ve substituted half of the liquid for rum and used mixed spice. Go with what you have/like.

Rum and Raisin Cake

The aroma of this cake is fantastic, especially when warm from the oven.

175g light or dark muscovado sugar
50g butter or cocoa butter
140ml water
140ml dark rum
280g raisins or sultanas
½ tsp salt
250g brown flour or mixture of flours, or gluten-free flour
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • Put the first five ingredients into a small pan.
  • Slowly bring to the boil, then remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for at least one hour.
  • Mix the remaining four ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Once the fruit mixture has cooled, heat the oven to 130°C, 110°C Fan.
  • Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the cooled fruit mixture, then pour into the loaf tin. It should almost fill the tin, but there’s little rise during baking.
  • Bake for 1 hour, turning the tin around after 40 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • Allow to cool in the tin.
  • Store in your cake tin, wrapped in foil.


6 Comments on “Rum and Raisin Cake”

  1. Laura says:

    This sounds like exactly the sort of cake my dad would love. I want yo give it a go myself but in the meantime I’m passing the recipe onto my mum 🙂

  2. I thought I would be idle and just get the book out.I misunderstood – its not in there.Of course not ,you do not just recommend a recipe from a book.
    Shall scribble down the recipe.
    Re “Poor Cook”though:I bought it second hand but have never really inhabited it as yet.Anything you can give the heads up on in there?

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers angelalambertlalala!
      My intention was to promote this recipe as similar in approach to that of Poor Cook, i.e. using storecupboard staples – looks like I didn’t do that so well. 😉
      My favourite recipe from the book is Spinach and Chick Peas (p168), which I like to eat as a vegetarian meal in itself but it’s a bit wintery for July!
      For something more summery, I can recommend the Fresh Pea Soup (p19) and the Tomato Soup (p20) and Chicken Liver Pate (p80).
      Hope you likey! M-A 😀

      • Thanks for that.
        I got out the follow on book and the other two Susan Campbell has written .I had forgotten how good they are .
        In “English cookery old and new” she does warm doughnuts as part of a picnic.Liked the whole hay box idea she suggests.Maybe for Cornish pasties or a plate pie.
        Thought about those big polystyrene boxes they use for fish (minus the smell) or maybe a hard shell cool box with hay pads.Two orange boxes nailed so no gaps plus a lid from the bottom of one.Dunno.Also what about condensation/soggy food.
        Any thoughts?

  3. EB says:

    This is delicious with cinnamon butter. : )

  4. I’ve now made a number of these Rum and Raisin Cakes and they’ve all been very well-received. I’m delighted that the low temperature baking avoids the burning of the fruit (particularly after the soaking in the rum and water etc.) as overcooked/burned fruit is a pet peeve.

    As you indicate, the recipe is very forgiving of a variety of flours.

    For the gluten-free version to remain intact I tried something that I would typically denounce as abuse of such a fine baked item – I put a section in the fridge so that it would slice relatively neatly. It did slice more tidily but I’ll never be entirely comfortable with the effect on the crumb or slight flattening of the taste.

    Thank you for the recipe.

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