The Porter Cake came from the BBC Good Food Cakes and Bakes recipe book (thanks again to Jean for this). It was published in the BBC Good Food magazine but is no longer on the web site. Lynn Burns's Fruit Cake is the only version I can find on-line. Needless to say it is wonderful. My dried fruit consisted of sultanas, giant golden raisins, currants and diced crystallised ginger. I reduced the sugar a little as the ginger was quite sugary. Like everyone else, I found that the cake needed another quarter of an hour to cook through.
To add my five penn'orth to the discussion, I recall my parents, not the most adventurous of cooks normally, making a boiled fruit cake in a state of high excitement, to an American recipe in a women's magazine (or the Radio Times perhaps). This would have been in the sixties, probably. Referring to my cooking bible (Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, 1966 edition) I find no recipes for such a cake. Indeed the gingerbread recipe states that the sugar and butter should be carefully melted together without allowing the mixture to boil.
However in my 1963 copy of the Stork classic The Art of Home Cooking there is a recipe for Fruit Cake (melting method).
|Make that fifty years' service - we've knocked about a bit!|
100g/4 oz. Stork Margarine [other margarines are available, but it was propaganda for Stork!]Oven
100g/4 oz. demerara sugar (4 rounded tablespoons)
200g/8 oz. dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, etc.)
150ml/¼ pint hot water
200g/8 oz. self-raising flour (8 heaped tablespoons)
½ level teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg (beaten)
Pre-heated to moderate (gas 4, 360°F, 180°C)
- Line a 20cm/7-inch cake tin.
- Put the Stork, sugar, mixed fruit and water into a medium-sized saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the Stork has melted and the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer for three minutes. Remove and allow to cool to luke-warm.
- Sieve the flour, nutmeg, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour. Pour in the cooled mixture and the egg. Stir quickly together, mixing thoroughly.
- Turn into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for
1½ - 1¾ hours45 minutes - 1 hour.
- Test [with a skewer] before removing from oven. Leave in the tin for 2-3 minutes. Turn out; remove paper and cool on a wire tray.
Let's travel forward in time from 1963 to the wonderfully-named Modern Fruit Cake from Baking with Stork (such exotic fruit! milk, not water! two eggs! but where's all the sugar?). Then back in time to Jean's 1940s War Cake, a luxury at a time of rationing (so much sugar! lard! and water! no egg!). Then further back to 1920s Depression Cake, also called "Milkless, Eggless, Butterless Cake" and yet further to 1860s Civil War Cake. That refers to the American Civil War, 150 years ago. Yes, it's an American cake...or maybe German? Or Italian? The trail goes cold!
Many thanks to Susan for Daisy's Best Boiled Fruitcake (an Australian version).