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Nigella Lawson's Black Cake


INGREDIENTS

For the Fruit:

250g raisins
250g prunes
250g currants
250g natural-coloured glace cherries
165g mixed peel
1/2 bottle madeira
1/2 bottle dark rum

For the Cake:

250g soft unsalted butter
250g dark muscovado sugar
the marinated fruit mixture
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 large eggs at room temp
275g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
125g black treacle

A deep, 23cm cake tin lined

METHOD

For the fruit:

1. Chop all the fruit very finely in the food processor. Go slowly, one fruit at a time, otherwise you'll end up with a puree.

2. Put the chopped fruit into a really large bowl and mix to combine and then pour over the Madeira and rum.

3. Cover the fruits and levee to steep for at least two weeks but up to six months.

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. With this sort of cake I like to have the top surface around half way up the oven so arrange your rack so that this will be achieved.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and add the fruit, wine/rum mixture - if you can, employ your stand mixer for this, it's a big cake that will require a lot of muscle! Add the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon and then beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour and baking powder and, finally, the black treacle. The batter should be dark brown.

3. Pour this dark batter into the prepared tin* and cook for one hour. Turn the oven down to 150C and cook for a further 2 hours or until cooked. Remember that everyone's oven is different - I usually start checking baking after about 2/3 of the time suggested in the recipe. Remove from oven and let the cake cook in the tin until it is completely cold.

4. When preparing tins for long, slow baked fruit cakes I always line with two thicknesses of baking parchment (or one of our "Make and Bake Reusable Liners) and then wrap the tin in about 8 sheets of newspaper and tie with string. This insulates the tin and allows a dense cake to cook through without scorching the sides and top. Alternatively, you could use your Wooden Cake Box to eliminate all of that insulation faffing!

5. If you think that the cake is browning too much before it is cooked through, simply cover loosely with foil which will stop the darkening.