This recipe, in Mother’s handwriting, was tucked into the cover of Good Hosekeeping’s Picture Cookery which was her main cookery book. It is the fourth impression, published in 1952.
Mother’s fruit cake was famous. Once, when I arrived in Lecce, in the heel of Italy, my friend’s mother eagerly anticipated the cake packed in my bag. Word of it reached New York; students from Libya tasted it and told their families. A little bit of Mother’s baking was quietly celebrated in different parts of the globe.
But I remember her using candied peel in her cake, and, I think, glacé cherries. Neither appear in this recipe. So I am not convinced it is the recipe, but maybe one she found later and liked, because again, this is her handwriting from when she was older.
When I was a child, she baked two of her fruit cakes each week; one for our household, one for my grandparents. I think I am right in saying she liked to keep the cake a week before cutting it. She always used a circular baking tin with a hole in the centre so that the slices cut easily with no crumbling in the middle.
It wasn’t my favourite. I am not a big fan of fruit cake. I preferred her chocolate sponge, and the melting moments biscuits that lived up to their name so well.
If anyone bakes this, please could you photograph the results and say how it tastes. I may have to bake it myself, and see if any Proustian memory is evoked.