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A little while back, Baking Mad sent out a request on Twitter for people to test out a recipe that would be appearing in the final episode of the Channel 4 show that they sponsor, ‘Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard‘. I don’t claim to be a great baker by any means, but always welcome the chance to get out of my comfort zone – so I put my name down…

The recipe that I had to make was a ‘lightly spiced fruit loaf’. I was told in advance that I could modify the recipe if I wanted, and the lovely people at BakingMad kindly sent me some of the ingredients to help me out. After buying the rest of the  ingredients, I set out to make the loaf on Tuesday night – ready for the willing volunteers (known as my pub quiz team) to sample on Wednesday…

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, if I’m honest – as I say, I don’t bake regularly. All I had was a print out of the recipe with no photo…and I normally rely on photographs when I’m making something I’m not sure about!

The first thing that surprised me was the sheer quantity of fruit in the ingredients, listed below…

    • 300g soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 300g golden caster sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 tsp orange blossom water
    • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 medium oranges and 2 unwaxed lemons
    • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting fruits
    • 200g glace cherries
    • 200g chopped mixed peel
    • 200g raisins

Looking through the instructions (which you can see by clicking this link), the second thing that surprised me was the amount of cooking time – three hours for a cake?! Best get on with it…

This isn’t a recipe to make if you’re short of time or like your baking to consist of as few steps as possible. After creaming together the butter and the sugar and folding in the eggs, i gave my arm more of a workout by grating and juicing the oranges and lemons in a separate bowl, adding the orange essence and setting aside for later.

To the egg, sugar and butter mixture I added the flour and the rest of the fruit. Baking Mad also provided me with a helpful tip: if you coat the dried fruit in the flour before mixing, it prevents it from sinking to the bottom of the loaf when it’s baking…clever!

With my loaf tin double lined with baking parchment and greased, the loaf went into the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 170 degrees, then a further one and a quarter hours at 150 degrees (the recipe stated that the cooking time at the lower heat should be between one and one and a half hours, depending on when you can stick a skewer into the middle of the loaf and pull it out clean.

Once removed from the oven, I left to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then cooled completely on a wire rack.

I was supposed to glaze the cake with sieved, warmed apricot jam, top with whole glacé fruits then glaze again, but this didn’t happen – partly because I couldn’t find any whole glacé fruits, and partly because I ran out of time!

Time for the real test came on Wednesday night, when I sliced the loaf and brought it along to the pub for my pub quiz team to enjoy. Gratifyingly, the whole loaf quickly disappeared – it’s just as well I have enough of the uncooked mixture left to make another!

Comments about the loaf were positive:

“Moist, tasty, didn’t think it was dense, very welcome as I had no dinner!”

“Really nice! Quite rich, but not in a bad way, and nice and moist”

Personally, I enjoyed it – I too thought it was quite rich but would be perfect with a cup of tea. If I were to make it again, though, I’d probably reduce the amount of orange in the loaf, as I found the flavour slightly overpowering. I’m looking forward to seeing Eric’s version on TV!

You can catch Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard every Monday on Channel 4 at 2.40pm.

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