Antonia's nut bread

ingredients

  • 500 g self-raising flour (or plain flour and baking powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • 100 g sugar and/or syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 450 ml milk
  • 120 g dried fruit
  • 150 g nuts

A family recipe mangled beyond recognition by the folk process. I've made it with mixed nuts and raisins, walnuts and dates, hazelnuts and dried apple; with white sugar, brown sugar, demerara sugar, golden syrup and maple syrup (obviously not all at once, but up to two at a time); contemplated using only almonds and apricots and adding a bit of almond essence, but I haven't tried that variant yet. Invariably, it's been delicious. It's probably possible to add spices but it's never seemed necessary.

This may be a completely idiot-proof recipe, or at least a run-out-of-things-proof recipe: the walnuts and dates were because I'd forgotten to plan for it and those were all I had.

It's been called "nut bread" for time immemorial, but it's actually a dense, not very sweet cake. It's best sliced fairly thinly and can be buttered.

process

Cut up fruit if it's large, rinse and drain raisins, stone dates. Chop nuts or leave them whole, as you like.

Sift the flour with salt, baking powder if your flour is plain, and spices if you're using any. Add sugar and/or other sweetening agent. Make a thick batter with the egg and the milk (an electric beater works very well). Finally add the fruit and nuts.

Grease a large cake tin or two small ones and sprinkle with dry breadcrumbs. Fill the tin(s) slightly more than half full with the batter. Bake at 150°C for 45 minutes and at 100°C for another 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out immediately and cool on a rack.