Maureen Fennessy has been the head chef at The Park Hotel in Dungarvan, County Waterford, for more than two decades. She can recite most of her recipes from memory and often adds an anecdote or cooking tip about a special ingredient, pan size, or favorite embellishment. For this cake, she strongly suggests that you “sprinkle it with a little whiskey — more than a little if you want — as soon as it’s baked.” She also says it’s a perfect cake to put an end to all those “fruitcake jokes.”
Maureen’s Light Fruit Cake
Makes 1 large loaf
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
3/4 cup currants
1/3 cup candied cherries, quartered
1/3 cup candied mixed peel
1/3 cup sliced almonds for topping
Irish whiskey for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 5-in. loaf pan. Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in thoroughly and adding some of the flour with each egg. Fold in the lemon rind, vanilla, remaining flour, sultanas, raisins, cherries, and mixed peel (batter will be thick).
3. Transfer to the prepared pan, sprinkle with the almonds, and bake for 75-80 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (cover with aluminum foil after 1 hour if almonds brown too much). Remove from the oven, prick the top with a skewer, and drizzle with the whiskey while still warm.
4. Let the cake cool completely, wrap in wax paper, and then in foil. Cake will keep for 10 days (can be frozen).
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