As we said our goodbyes leaving Toronto for Montreal on the 1st of January, Robin handed us a Santa Claus tin, packed to the brim with thick slices of the fruitcake he had baked. We diligently saved it, as a few days later we were going to head to New York City by train from Montreal, a trip that takes about 11 hours, and our care package of Robin’s Fruitcake was going to be the best “padkos” for the journey.

When the time came this year to bake a fruitcake, it was a given that it would be Robin’s Fruitcake and I messaged him for the recipe. Turns out the recipe is a James Martin recipe on BBC Goodfood.

The recipe calls for a kilogram of mixed dried fruit and I used a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, prunes, cranberries and cherries. You can play with the combination as you please, adding more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Don’t skip the prunes as they help with a soft, moist cake.

For a richer and more flavourful cake, I added 50g cocoa powder and a teaspoon of salt to the mixture when boiling the fruit (sweet always needs salt). And instead of letting the mixture cool for 30 minutes, I let it stand overnight for the flavours to improve. Our booze of choice this year was Mauritian rum but you can use brandy, whiskey or sherry. Save a few cherries to decorate the top of the cake before baking.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Robin’s Fruitcake and that it will be enjoyed this festive season. If you’ve made the recipe share it with me by tagging @heinstirred on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #heinstirred. It is always a treat to see the recipes made and enjoyed.

I am pleased to introduce my new cookbook, Drunk and Hungry available as a digital download. As the title states, the book consists of easy and flavourful recipes for when you find yourself drunk, and hungry. Savoury, sweet, vegan, vegetarian, bacon, cheese, spice, and carbs are packed into 15 easy recipes to satisfy your hunger while tantalising your tastebuds. The book has just been announced as the South African winner in the Digital Books category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It will now compete against 10 other international titles for Best in the World in Jun 2021 at the Cookbook Fair in Paris. You can purchase the book by clicking on this link.

Robin's Fruitcake

Adapted from James Martin, BBC Good Food


  • 1 kg mixed dried fruit use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150 ml brandy sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250 g butter softened
  • 200 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175 g cake flour
  • 100 g ground almond
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, brandy, butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in pot
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, cover and let it stand overnight at room temperature
  • Preheat the oven to 150C
  • Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of paper, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside and tie with string to secure
  • Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, spices, eggs and vanilla to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour
  • Spoon into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
  • Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin
  • To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film
  • Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every week

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