My mum almost always has a batch of her delicious fruit cake-style fairy cakes ready for us when we visit. In our family they're affectionately known as Little Cakes to distinguish them from mum's normal-sized fruit cakes (she makes an excellent fruit cake too). They're incredibly simple, and to me they taste comfortingly of home; memories of lazy Sunday evenings spent watching Ski Sunday and the Antiques Roadshow, eating sandwiches made from leftover roast, mum's coleslaw and homemade pickled onions, with Little Cakes for pudding. I used her recipe while we were in Italy to make a very tasty ciambella - a sort of Italian Bundt cake - during a big thunderstorm. I adapted it a little to make it a bit more ciambella-y (I added marsala), but otherwise this is all my mum's recipe, and it worked just as well for ciambella as for fairy cakes.
|(c) Becca Thorne 2014|
This makes either one ciambella or approximately 12 little cakes. It's in ounces, as that's how mum gave it to me (she's been making these a long time), and I used this page to convert the original quantities to cups as I had no scales.
8oz plain flour
2tsp baking powder
8oz dried mixed fruit/sultanas
A little milk - dairy or non-dairy
Optional: a generous glass of marsala or the tasty liquid of your choice - brandy, whisky, amaretto, sherry or Earl Grey tea would all work well - plus just enough apple or orange juice to cover the dried fruit in a small mixing bowl. Omit the milk if you do this.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
If using, soak the fruit in the marsala and juice for 10-15 minutes.
Lightly grease your ciambella pan, or line your fairy cake moulds with cake papers.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fairly smooth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon or so of flour with each to prevent curdling.
Fold in the rest of the flour and the baking powder. If the mixture feels a little stiff or dry, add either a little milk or, if using, the soaking liquid from the fruit, to loosen it up to a good dropping consistency. Fold in the fruit.
Spoon the mixture into your pan or papers. If making individual cakes, sprinkle with a little demerera sugar. Bake in the centre of your oven for 15-20 mins until golden and a clean, sharp knife inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool fully. Keeps well in an airtight box for several days.