I have to say that a boiled cake does not sound very appetising, it sounds thick and dense and lumpy and solid… a steadier as my dad would say. However, way back at some time in my culinary past I did make a boiled cake and it was actually very nice!

The reason I’m thinking of boiled cake is my friend Valerie bought one/was given one/won one, and she was quite disappointed with it as it sounds like a prime candidate for a doorstop – even though she had tried eating it in different ways, even as a dessert with yoghurt… and it was a generous size so she has quite a lot to get through! We all in our group had a bit of a chat about it, some people thought it was actually boiled like a fruit pudding, but I seemed to remember when I made it I had only boiled the fruit, let it cool and then proceeded and cooked the cake in the oven as usual.

Once I got home I investigated, and looked for a recipe. I found quite a few on line, including an Irish one which was made with whiskey – and another where the fruit was steeped in Guinness overnight then boiled in more of the same, a Welsh one – another Welsh one with ‘a slurp of brandy or rum’, one boiled in tea (particularly Earl Gray) or orange juice and served sliced with Lurpack butter and jam – this one sometimes had other fruit added such as mashed banana, apricots, dates, one with sherry… It seems once you have the basic recipe you can customise it as you like!

Here is a recipe I found from the 1950’s, by Ruth Drew:

  • 1 lb dried mixed fruit (or fruit of your choice)
  • ¾ lb sugar or syrup
  • 4 oz margarine
  • 1¼lb flour (I guess self-raising, it doesn’t actually say!)
  • 1 ½ pints water (here is where you could substitute tea, sherry, rum, brandy, Guinness or anything you fancy – cider would give a nice fruity taste!)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (I would add extra mixed spice and the cinnamon and nutmeg below)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  1. put sugar or syrup, margarine, liquid, fruit into a pan and bring to the boil – boil for 5 minutes, take from heat and let cool
  2. when cold, mix in the remaining dry ingredients
  3. bake in a moderate oven, gas mark 4-5, 350-375ºF, 180-190ºC, for 1 hour and 50 minutes

This thread from a forum expands the ideas above, and gives another very nice sounding recipe:

http://www.womanandhome.com/forums/threads/5218-Irish-Boiled-Cake-Recipe-needed!

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