Prep time:

Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Total time:

Serves: 40

1kg mixed dried fruit, plus an extra 50 g/2 oz (½ cup) each of sultanas or golden raisins and currants

12 pitted prunes, chopped

400g sweetened condensed milk

225g butter (2 sticks)

1tbsp black treacle (molasses)

1tbsp golden syrup or corn syrup

dash vanilla extract

dash brandy

350ml water

50g flaked (slivered) almonds

1tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1tsp mixed (apple pie) spice

1tsp ground nutmeg

300g plain  (all-purpose) flour

1tsp baking powder

This is my grandmother’s recipe, so very special to me. The cake is intensely fruity and moist. I sometimes make it in the evening, turning the oven off after two and a half hours and leaving it in the oven overnight so it has time to settle. In an airtight container, wrapped in greaseproof paper, it will keep for months.

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas Mark 1. Line a 23-cm/ 9-inch square cake pan with parchment (baking) paper. Put the dried fruit, prunes, condensed milk, butter, treacle (molasses), syrup, vanilla and brandy into a pan. Add the water and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool slightly before stirring in the almonds, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and spices. Finally, incorporate the flour and baking powder a bit at a time, stirring well between each addition.
  3. 3 Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 2½ hours. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in there to settle – I usually do this overnight. The following day, turn it out and store it as described in the introduction.

The Great Dixter Cookbook is published by Phaidon £24.95. Wealden Times readers can buy it with a 30% discount and free UK shipping, using the code DX30 at offer open until 25 June 2018.

Aaron Bertelsen is appearing at The Garden Hub at the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair.

  • words:
  • pictures: Andrew Montgomery

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