Once a year, in December, I make fruitcake. It's my grandmother's recipe. In my family, it was first made by her, then by my mother, now by me, and mainly for my dad, who's been eating it at Christmas for pretty well all of his life. It requires a truck load of dried fruit, soaking it liberally in booze, and a sleep after eating a slice. Sometimes, in seasons other than summer, I have a craving for fruitcake but just thinking about what making it entails - a trip to the supermarket, an overnight soaking of fruit, an enormous cake that takes weeks to get through - is enough to quell that desire... or at least it was until I came across this recipe in the newspaper last weekend.
Moroccan-spiced tea loaf
Adapted from a recipe by Helen Goh in The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend
Ras-el-hanout is a North African spice blend (sometimes labelled "Moroccan spice") available from most supermarkets and delis. If you don't have any you could make up your own using this recipe - if you don't have all the spices in the ingredients list, I daresay you could wing it with what you have.
75g dried figs, in small dice
75g prunes, in small dice
75g dried apricots, in small dice
250ml hot black tea
225g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
milk, if needed (I didn't)
Put the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over hot tea. Leave covered overnight for fruit to plump up.
Preheat oven to 190 deg C (or 180 deg C fan-forced). Line a 1-litre loaf tin with baking paper.
Measure dry ingredients into a large bowl and add the soaked fruit (and any soaking liquid) and egg. Stir to combine, adding a splash of milk if mixture is too dry - the batter should be at dropping consistency.
Scrape mixture into loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave cool in tin for 10 minutes then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
Slice thickly and spread with salted butter.