Apricot and Cherry Loaf Cake

Here’s a fruit-packed cake with a lovely festive feel (and taste, of course), making it an ideal pre-Christmas bake. Don’t let that put you off baking it in mid-summer though, for two very good reasons: 1. it tastes great all year round; 2. English summers can feel like November.  

Makes: One loaf cake (about 10 – 12 slices) Double the ingredients for two

Time: 15 minutes the night before, then 90 minutes on the day + cooling, then about 15 minutes to decorate.

Level: Easy

Equipment: A 1kg/2lb loaf tin + a paper liner (optional, but recommended)

Ingredients for the cake

  • 300g/10oz dried apricots, chopped (+ a few for decoration)                         
  • 150g/5.5oz glace cherries, halved or quartered (+ a few for decoration)   
  • 150g/5.5oz other dried fruit and peel  (raisins, sultanas, currants)          
  • 300g/10oz light soft brown sugar                                                                          
  • 300ml/10fl oz hot tea with some sherry*
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g/3.5oz flaked almonds (optional)
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour (+ ½ tsp xanthan gum powder if using GF flour)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

* It’s up to you how much sherry you use, or you could leave it out altogether. You need enough liquid to cover the fruit plus a little more to be soaked up overnight, probably around 300ml, but could be a little more.

Ingredients for decorating the cake

  • About 4 Tbsp apricot jam or marmalade to glaze
  • The reserved apricots and cherries

Method

1. The night before: put the apricots, cherries, dried fruit, peel and sugar in a bowl and pour over a mixture of hot tea and sherry.

2. Next day: Heat the oven to 160C / fan 140C / 325F / Gas 3. Butter and line the base and two sides of a 1kg/2lb loaf tin or insert a shaped paper liner. 

3. Stir the beaten egg into the soaked fruit mixture then stir in the flaked almonds (if using). 

4. Sift in the flour, xanthan gum powder (if using), salt and spices. Mix well, then pour or spoon into the tin. Tap it firmly on the work surface a couple of times to settle the mixture.

5. Bake for 75 – 85 minutes until the loaf has risen well. Check at around 60 minutes in case it needs to be covered with foil. Check it’s done by inserting a skewer, which should come out clean to show that the loaf has baked.    

6. Cool the cake in its tin for 5 – 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

7. To decorate, heat the apricot jam or marmalade with a Tbsp water or sherry. Brush this over the cake then add the reserved halves of apricot and cherry. Brush again and leave to set.

I’d love to hear about your cakes, made with this recipe. Thoughtful feedback is appreciated. Be kind though, I’m a sensitive chap. 

Ian