Fiona Cairns’ Tropical Fruit Cake for a wintry Wednesday

Another wintry Wednesday makes a great excuse to share a gorgeous recipe with you from Bake & decorate by Fiona Cairns. We thought we'd turn up the heat with Tropical Fruit Cake - the presentation itself makes our eyes light up. It's a great way to use up any leftover currants and glace ginger you might have had sitting in the store cupboard since Christmas baking. And of course, any half-filled bottles of rum that need using up. The Salter scales on promotion at ACHICA today would make the perfect baking tool too. Check out the irie recipe here...

'This gingery, rum-laced cake is a twist on the classic fruit cake,' says Fiona. 'When I was dreaming this up, I thought of all the flavours of exotic sun - soaked holidays and put those in instead of the more usual fruits and nuts. You'll need to start this cake the day before to let the fruits soak up the rum.'

Tropical Fruit Cake recipe 

Makes 25 slices


125g dark glace cherries

150g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped

150g dates, chopped

200g glace ginger, chopped

150g sultanas

150g currants

120ml dark rum (plus a couple of tbsp more to feed the cake)

finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

295g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin

100g shelled unsalted pistachios

100g pecan nuts

150g self-raising flour

1 tsp ground mixed spice

1tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

150g dark muscovado sugar

150g ground almonds

5 eggs, lightly beaten

2tbsp black treacle

To decorate 

12 dark glace cherries

18 pecans

24 shelled unsalted pistachios


1. Rinse the cherries for the cake, then dry on kitchen towel and chop the day before you make the actual cake. Place the apricots, dates, ginger, sultanas, currants and cherries in a large bowl and pour over the rum, lime zest and juice. Give it all a good stir, cover the clingfilm and leave overnight.

2. Next day, preheat the oven to 140 degrees C/fan 130 degrees C/275F/gas mark 1. Lightly butter a 20cm, 7.5 deep, square tin and line with baking parchment. Wrap the outside of the tin with a collar of brown paper (or even newspaper works fine) and tie with string. Do this every time you are baking fruit cakes that need long cooking, to protect the outsides form scorching in the tin.

3. Scatter the pistachios and pecans on to a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. When cool, chop and set aside. Sift the flour mixed spice, ground ginger and salt together. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until really light and fluffy (this will take at least 5 minutes). Add the ground almonds, then, very gradually, the eggs, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, the treacle and, lastly, gently fold in all the nuts and the fruits with their delicious rummy liquid.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin, levelling the top. Arrange the cherries, pecans and pistachios on top. Bake on a low oven shelf for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If it browns too much before it is fully cooked, make a square of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the centre and open it up, then place it over the cake to protect the edges of the top surface.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cold, prick all over with a fine skewer and sprinkle over the extra rum. Wrap in baking parchment, then foil, and leave to mature for a week - even a month - though it will still taste delicious if you eat it straight away.

BAKE & DECORATE by FIONA CAIRNS, published by Quadrille in March

Photography © LAURA HYND

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor

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