Chocolate Fruit Cake

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This recipe, for a Chocolate Fruit Cake, is from Nigella’s website.  According to Nigella’s description it is squidgy, which please me, since I was rather worried that my attempt at it was not going to turn out quite right.

The most complicated thing about the recipe is following the instructions to double line the cake tin, and then to cover the outside of the tin too.  No explanation is given as to why the outside needs covering too.

Now I found a video of Nigella making this as a Christmas cake, and she didn’t seem to paper the outside.  Nor did she double layer the insides, though she did use a thicker, re-usable liner so that may account for it.

She also made a comment, when dressing the cake, with some coated coffee beans, that they would hide any dip in the centre of the cake.  That was a relief to me, as mine had sunk somewhat too.

One further comment, on the recipe, it calls for prunes, and has no further comment.  However I decided that the prunes were rather too large to be used whole, so I chopped them into quarters before adding them to the saucepan.  When I watched the Nigella video I see that she too chopped the prunes, probably into smaller pieces than I had.  So I have adjusted her recipe, as shown below, to add the word ‘chopped’.

I cannot attest to the taste of the cake, yet, as it is still cooling.  I want family to taste it first, as I don’t like anything that has a taste of coffee.  Once assured that the Tia Maria used doesn’t mean the cake is strongly flavoured with coffee I will try it too.

Also I should say that this will not be a strongly chocolate flavoured cake, there is only 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder in it, and a lot of fruit. So expect a slightly chocolate, fruity and spicy flavour.

This is a large cake, so it will provide a lot of servings.  But there is no worry that it will dry out, or go stale,  provided that it is stored in an airtight container.

Below I show a photo of the cake, just out of the tin.  I have now tasted the cake and it is extremely rich and very moist.  A truly indulgent cake.  Idiot that I am I forgot to take a photo when the first slice was taken, and now it is too late, as it has been delivered to family, for rapid devouring.

Chocolate Fruit Cake


  • 350 grams prunes, chopped
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 125 grams currants
  • 50 grams piece candied orange peel
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 175 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 175 ml runny honey
  • 125 ml tia maria or other coffee liqueur
  • 2 – 3 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150°C/300°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm / 8-inch round, 9cm / 3½ inch deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. Before proceeding any further, read the following which explains how to do it if you need the encouragement. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin; think of a lining that’s twice as deep as the tin. Cut out two circles of paper, and two very long rectangles that will fit along the sides of the tin coming up from it like a top hat. Before you put the rectangular cut-out paper in, fold one long side in of both pieces, as if turning up a hem of about 2cm / 1 inch, and then take some scissors and snip into this hem, at intervals of about 2cm / 1 inch – as if you were making a rough frill. Grease the tin, lay one circle on the bottom and get one of your long pieces, then fit with the frilly edge along the bottom, which you press down to sit flat on the circle to hold it in place. Press the paper well into the sides, and repeat with the second piece. Now place the second circle of paper on the bottom of the tin, but on top of the two pressed-down frilly edges, which will also help to hold the pieces around the edge in place. Finally, wrap the tin with brown parcel paper, again making it higher than the sides, and tie it in place with kitchen twine.
  2. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, runny honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. After the 30 minutes are up, it will have cooled a little (though you could leave it for longer if you wanted). Add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, however you like, to combine.
  4. Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
  5. Put the cake on a cooling rack. It will hold its heat and take a while to cool, but once it has, unmould it from the tin and, if you don’t want to eat it immediately (and like any fruit cake it has a very long life), wrap it in baking parchment and then in foil and place in a tin.

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