Family Recipes: Fruit Cake

An easy, tasty yellow cake is essential to any home baker’s repertoire. An easy, tasty yellow cake with fruitis even better. My grandmother often made an amazing fruit cake – usually with plums – when we visited. This is the best kind of family recipe: there’s nothing really revolutionary, no proprietary secrets or weird ingredients – just a really, really good classic recipe that floored people every time my grandmother brought it out, and has done the same whenever I’ve made it. This recipe is the kind that I hope to rediscover every time I try something new out of one of my old cookbooks.

Grandma Viv’s Open Fruit Cake (Makes one 8″x8″ pan)

1/2 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla (or other liquor)
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Cinnamon sugar
Berries, apples, pears, or stone fruit**

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together.
3. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
4. Add the flour and baking powder mixture and blend well. The batter will  be pretty thick.
5. Spread it into a buttered or sprayed pan (8×8 works, as does a 9″ pie plate).  The batter will probably be spread pretty thin, but don’t worry – it rises a lot.
6. Press fruit into the batter, leaving about a 1/2 an inch between pieces, and sprinkle the top of the cake with cinnamon sugar.
7. Bake 35 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Be warned – if you use especially juicy fruit (like plums), the cake might remain pretty moist in the center.  In that case, just try to gauge whether you’re pulling out more juice or batter on the toothpick, and watch the edges of your cake for over-browning.

**The cake pictured above is a double recipe, baked in a 9″x13″ pan. I used 2 pears, and I mixed 1/4 c. chopped candied ginger into the batter before putting it in the pan.