store cupboard fruit cakerating:
I like this - random mixture of dried fruit, made with Armagnac instead of whisky (because that's what we had most of). Yesterday I used about 400g prunes, 250g dried apples, and the rest sultanas. You could add cherries, or figs, or dates, or hazelnuts, or stem ginger, or any combination you like. As long as you stick to 900g of fruit, you won't go far wrong.
900g dried fruit - use whatever you have
200ml strong hot tea (black, no milk)
3tbsp brandy or whisky or rum or ginger wine or whatever you have - not sure gin would work, though
3tbps marmalade - thin cut, thick cut, who cares
225g plain flour
225g butter or margarine
225g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1-2 tsp mixed spice, if you like
zest of an orange, or a lemon, or some lemon juice - who cares
20cm deep cake tin (loose bottomed is easiest), lined on the bottom and round the edges. Although I must confess I just line the bottom with a pre-cut greaseproof liner, and grease the edges very well.
Put the fruit in a bowl, and mix in the cold tea, spirits and marmalade. Leave to soak overnight if you like, but I've soaked for just 2-3 hours and it was fine. You do need to soak the fruit for a bit, though, to plump up the fruit.
Preheat the oven to gas 3.
To make the cake, beat the butter/marg and the sugar together till light and fluffy. Personally, I wouldn't like to make this without an electric mixer, but you may have stronger arms than me!
Add the eggs a little at a time, beating between each addition. Then fold in the flour and spice (if you're spicing). Then add the fruit, and any remaining liquor from the aforementioned soaking.
Stir it all around, then decant it into the cake tin, prepared as above. I sprinkle some more caster sugar over the top to give it a nice glaze, but it's not essential.
Bake for 1.5 hours at gas 3, then 1.25 to 1.5 hours at gas 1. Leave to cool in the pan. Gorgeous.