Saturday, 26 March 2011

Boat Cake

I have got hold of my Aunt Clare’s cache of recipes. It contains several of my parents’ dishes including a rhubarb tart, which I will reproduce and then revise once cooked.

I was very worried when I first asked for them and my cousin said ‘written on the back of envelopes? And scraps of paper? I think they went on the fire.’ Not to be put off, I started rifling through the cookbooks and came up with two bundles of index cards, in rubber bands, and a manilla envelope with more bounty.

What I am looking for is boat cake, aka Peacock cake. It’s a light fruit cake, with demerera sprinkled on top, baked in a shallow square tin, suitable for cutting into slices and transporting onto boat of any size, or taking on picnics. The peacocks didn’t get the whole, I’ve been told, just the stale leftovers. Which is more than they deserve, vicious nasty creatures.

This is a tribute  recipe, and is in unreconstituted inch, oz, and Fahrenheit measurements. I will prepare and then revise it, on the basis that my aunt was a very particular woman, and the recipe is likely to be accurate and usable.

Prepare 7”x11” tin

Set oven to 170F


10 oz slf-raising flour
6 oz fat
3 eggs
6 oz sugar
8 oz dried fruit
8 glace cherries
1 tsp each cinnamon and mixed spice
¼ tsp ginger
1 pinch salt
A little water

Two spoonfuls of demerera sugar

Add the spices to the flour
Rub the fat into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs
Stir in the sugar
Add the eggs and water and beat everything together
Stir in the dried fruit

Put into prepared tin and sprinkle with demerera sugar

Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

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