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