Boil and Bait Fisherman’s Cake Recipe

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Cakes River Cottage HandbookA saucepan and a wooden spoon are the only pieces of equipment you will need to make this scrumptious moist fruit cake. Eaten with a good chunk of farmhouse Cheddar, creamy Caerphilly or crumbly Cheshire, this is an incredibly easy packed lunch, making it the perfect ‘bite’ for fishermen while waiting for a fish to bite… If you’ve not got any dried apricots or figs, simply replace these with currants or sultanas, or use a 500g pack of ready-mixed dried fruits to replace all of the dried fruits in the recipe, which makes it very straightforward.

  • Yield: 10 to 12 Servings


  • 125 g unsalted butter or 125 ml sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • 125 g light soft brown or muscovado sugar
  • 1 good tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 125 ml milk
  • 200 g raisins
  • 150 g dried apricots, each cut into 5 or 6 pieces
  • 150 g dried figs, each cut into 6 or 8 pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 g self-raising flour
How to Make It
  1. Put the butter or oil, sugar, syrup or honey, milk and dried fruit into a saucepan with 125 ml water. Stir over a gentle heat until the butter has melted and the ingredients are well combined. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened and a soft caramel colour, stirring from time to time to prevent it sticking to the base. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3. When the mixture is cool, stir in the beaten eggs and sift in the flour. Then, using a wooden spoon, beat together thoroughly until well combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling it out with the back of the spoon. Bake in the oven for 60–70 minutes until the top is evenly browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out very slightly sticky. Leave the cake in the tin until cold before turning out.
  4. This is a cake that is better left for a few days before eating. It will keep for several weeks stored in an airtight tin.

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