Grandma Woodward's Boiled Fruitcake

Source: Edmonds Cook Book

To Make 2 small loaf-size cakes

Grandma Ella Woodward made this recipe for as long back as I can remember, and sent me up regular supplies when I was a student boarding in Auckland in the late fifties. The least fussy and most forgiving of all fruit cake recipes, and one of the best for sinking a huge slice of with a mug of cocoa on a winter night. (It was always called Gran's fruitcake but like many other legendary recipes of hers, we eventually tracked it down to the Edmonds book.)

Not the greatest keeper if you're looking for an October-baked Christmas cake to feed with brandy. For that you should try Dave's Fruit Cake, or Felicity's Christmas Cake. Best consumed within a few days at most.

You will need

500 g

Fruit Cake mix - but can include a chopped fig or apricot or two for variation, or some chopped crystallised ginger.

To cover fruit

Cold Water

250 g

Butter, sliced into small pieces to melt more easily

1.5 cups



Eggs, beaten

3 cups

Plain Flour

4 teaspoons

Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon

Almond Essence (I use rum or brandy flavour)

1/2 teaspoon

Vanilla Essence

What to do

  1. Prepare cake tins. I use a couple of loaf tins. Butter well and coat with flour, (my way) or alternatively, line with baking paper over a lightly greased tin. If you go for a 200mm square tin, and make just one big cake, that's fine, but drop the cooking temperature about 5C and cook for about 15-20 minutes longer.
  2. Cover fruit with water, bring to the boil and remove from heat. Add butter and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Preheat oven to 160C.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. If you have a flour sifter, by all means use it, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference as far as I can see. Just make sure the baking powder is well mixed in.
  4. Beat eggs and add essences
  5. Combine all ingredients
  6. Fill tins about 3/4 full.
  7. Place in centre of oven and check after 60 minutes that an inserted skewer comes out clean. If in doubt, allow a little longer. It can still be a touch raw for a little while after the skewer ceases to show mix when you test.

Loaf Tins: Cheap non-stick loaf tins, ex-supermarket, are not a good way to go. (Ditto frying pans.) They scratch easily and once that has occurred they stick more and more. Smith and Caughey may do superior non-stick loaf tins - I haven't actually tried, but anything else I've bought from their kitchenware department has been excellent. Regardless, if you can find the old Bonco loaf tins at a garage sale or second hand shop, without too much rust on them, clean them up, coat them with cooking oil, and give them an hour at 150C in the oven, and let them cool in the oven. After that, never let detergent near them. Clean with hot water and a plastic mop, and wipe over with a paper towel containing a little cooking oil before putting them away. (If you need to get into the corners, use a (purpose bought) denture toothbrush, the same one you use to clean the fine bits of the eggbeater when it's been left to harden.) Before use, lightly rub with oil or butter again and dust with flour before putting the cake mix in.







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