I don't know about everyone else, but I miss pudding already. There's something ultimately comforting about it when wind and hail are lashing the windows outside. Since giving up cake is certainly NOT on my resolutions list, I decided to mix together all of the things that are needed on a gloomy, winter weekend: dried fruits, gooey sugar, cold-busting spices and a good kick in the pants. CUE! A tea cake with a difference.
This is based on an 18th Century recipe and, since they didn't have central heating or onesies, I'm assuming they knew what they were talking about when it comes to comforting cakes.
Black Pepper and Treacle Cake
You will need:
- 450g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g butter, softened slightly
- 200g Demerara sugar
- 200g mixed dried fruit
- Handful of figs, chopped
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 free-range eggs
- 1tsp orange blossom water (optional)
- 25ml milk
- 200g treacle
For the icing:
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- splash water
- mixed fruit, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 150 C / 300 F / Gas Mark 2. Butter the shit out of a large bundt tin. (Seriously, you don't want stuck cake, that's a tragedy).
- Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar, fruit and spices.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, eggs and the orange blossom water, if using.
- Tip into the dry ingredients, along with the treacle (it's about 5 tbsp, to make life easier) and mix together.
- The batter will be pretty thick, so you might want to add a splash more milk to loosen it.
- Spoon into the prepared tin, smoothing over the top and bake for around 1 - 1 1/4 hours, until a skewer inserted comes out just clean. In the meantime, watch an episode of Sherlock.
- Cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before carefully inverting onto a plate.
- Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix into a smooth paste. (You may want to add a little water, depending on how runny you like your icing)
- Spoon over the cake, sprinkling with dried fruit to decorate, and eat warm, with any left-over brandy butter that might be kicking around the fridge ...