I still haven't shifted my Christmas excesses, so I feel I shouldn't keep making myself cakes. But when there's no cake in the house I rummage around for the kids treats instead. So this cake is my acknowledgement that I need the odd treat and if I share it with a few friends it shouldn't do me too much harm.
I really like all sorts of fruitcakes, but particularly enjoy ones that don't have too much fruit and are more cakey. This one uses ground almond and polenta along with the flour, so should be lovely and moist and dense.
So, the sherry the recipe asks for is some very posh and new-age sherry. I remember when sherry came in 3 different types, dry, medium and sweet. And the more you advanced in years, the sweeter the sherry you took. I can still remember the first time I was offered a sherry at a relative's house, I was only 32, I was mortified and immediately went and put on a bit more make-up!
The sherry I am using is a very old Harvey's Bristol Cream that I stumbled upon in my parents' loft. It had a music offer on the collar that expired in 1985. It really isn't fit for drinking but a cake is going to love it's rich oaky sweetness.
Here is the recipe:
100ml sherry (plus extra for dousing and sipping!)
250g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
First soak the raisins in the sherry while you get all your other ingredients ready, 30mins minimum, but longer if you have the time.
Cream your butter and sugar together, if you haven't got softened butter, stick your bowl in the oven for a couple of minutes as it's heating up. I find an electric hand whisk the best tool for the job.
When the mixture is pale, gradually add the beaten eggs until they are all incorporated (you might need to add a little of your flour if it starts to curdle). Now add the dry ingredients – almonds, polenta, flour. This will feel quite dry when these are all mixed in, but now you are going to add the raisins with all their lovely soaking liquor.
I had the urge to add a little cinnamon or vanilla to the mixture at this point (a terrible habit I have to tinker with the recipe) but I resisted because I wanted the sherry to shine through.
Now tip the mixture into a lined 23cm cake tin, I only had a 20cm tin within easy reach, so I used this which gives a deeper cake, but will take longer to cook. At this stage I couldn't resist a little sprinkle of demerera sugar on the top because I love the crunch this gives (tinker, tinker!)
Now make your cake comfortable in a preheated oven at 180 C/160 C fan for 45-50mins (or if you have followed my smaller cake size example you will need about another 20mins, but check a couple of times) a skewer should come out clean when it's cooked.
When the cake is still hot, prick it all over and spoon a little more sherry over the top (the recipe said to use 150ml more, but I didn't quite go that far).
I would most heartily recommend eating it when it's still a bit warm, as your teacher isn't watching and she can't tell you off for eating hot cake. We have tried really hard to keep to just one slice of this a day, unfortunately the size of the slice is questionable.
This would make a lovely Easter cake if you don't like the normal Simnel cake. It is crumbly and light and I think it would go just as well with a glass of fizz as it does with a cuppa.