This cake is like a lighter version of a Christmas fruit cake…many of the same ingredients, but without the stodge and the months of waiting. It has all the same punchiness and body, but none of the heaviness.
The usual medley of dried fruit is replaced by a single one – dried cranberries, plumped up in lemon juice for that sharp/sweet bite.
The recipe is from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, and she notes that it originated from the Hennickehammar hotel in Filipstad, Sweden. At the Hennickehammar, they serve slices of cake toasted lightly on each side, with a compote of lingonberries.
Dried cranberries are a wonderful thing…small and tart, bursting with sweetness, but with a hint of acidity to them. Soaking them in the juice of a lemon helps to draw that acidity out, galvanise it and give it a bigger stage, so do just that with 125g of dried cranberries, bringing the lemon juice just to the boil, then letting the cranberries sit in the juice to absorb some of the liquid.
Whilst that’s happening, line the bottom of a 1kg loaf tin with greaseproof paper, and make sure the ends of the tin are properly greased with butter.
Getting the cake together is easy. It’s just a case of mixing dry ingredients with wet.
In a large bowl, weigh out 300g of plain flour, 200g of light brown sugar, a teaspoon of ground ginger, half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg, and a teaspoon and a half of baking powder.
Mix together thoroughly, and make a well in the middle for a beaten egg, 200ml of milk, 60g of melted butter and the cranberries and lemon juice. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, slowly and carefully, until the batter is smooth and silky, the red nuggets of cranberry lost in the spicy mix.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake at 180c for fifty minutes, or until a skewer or knife comes out clean when plunged into the heart of the cake.
To serve, lightly toast slices on each side and sift over a little icing sugar. Vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche wouldn’t be out-of-place.