Dark, sticky Christmas cake with prunes and Guinness

This delicious cake, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is based on a recipe from one of Britain's best bakers Dan Lepard. Do use organic dried fruit in it - you’ll get a much better result.

250g currants
150g mi-cuit (semi-soft) prunes, preferably from Agen, cut into small pieces
200g organic dried apricots, cut into small pieces
125g large raisins
Grated rind of 1 unwaxed orange
150ml Guinness or similar stout
200g unsalted butter
1 tbsp mixed spice
150ml treacle
200g dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
300g spelt or wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder

You will also need a deep, loose-bottomed cake tin about 20cm in diameter, double-lined with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3

Combine the dried fruit and orange rind in a bowl. Pour the stout into a saucepan heat gently until hot (but not boiling) and pour over the fruit. Heat the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat and skim off the milky curds that rise to the surface. Simmer until it begins to deepen in colour then stir in the spice and treacle. Add to the fruit along with the sugar and stir well. Cool the mixture then add the lightly beaten eggs, bit by bit. Sift the flour with the baking powder and add to the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin, pressing it down well and smoothing over the surface. Bake in the pre-heated oven for an hour, covering the top of the cake with foil if it starts to brown too quickly then turn the heat down to 140°C/275°F/Gas 2 for a further 1 1/2 - 2 hours until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin. Peel off the the baking parchment and cover with fresh parchment then wrap tightly in foil. You can eat it after a week but it will keep for up to a month.

This cake would taste great with a barley wine or a sweet sherry.

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