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Fruit Layer Cake

Recipe by Kar Yee

Kary Yee has previously volunteered with us at FoodCycle Bow Road.


As a nod to Easter and the simnel cake I’ve never got round to making, I’ve come up with this cake. Steeping the fruit gently in some liquid first makes them extra juicy and you have a choice of water, tea, fruit juice or even alcohol here! Just remember to drain it properly, otherwise, it can affect the texture and cooking time. I’ve gone conservative with the amount of fruit and it is really just a few bits here and there, alternatively just leave them out and what you have is a simple Victoria Sponge which you can adjust at will. 

Given the current situation, eggs can be hard to come by, so we take what we can get. With this recipe, the ingredients are based on the overall weight of the eggs and so if all you can find are mixed weights, the recipe accommodates for that. Self-raising also seems to be the last packet left on the supermarket shelves right now which is handy for this, however, if you have a packet in the back of the cupboard for a while, it’s worth adding some extra baking powder as the raising agent in self-raising can wear off over time. 

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • The same weight of self-raising flour, butter (unsalted butter preferable, salted or margarine are fine), caster sugar (granulated can be used in a pinch but it will show in the texture)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 70g mixed fruit soaked overnight or heated on the stove with some liquid
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of milk (room temperature)

Cake Method

Preheat the oven at 180C (350f/Gas Mark 4).

Beat butter with caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Beginners note: Make sure the butter is room temperature soft (cube and microwave briefly if you lack patience), and combine with sugar gradually. You can do this with a wooden spoon, hand whisk or mixer but you should see the butter become noticeably lighter in colour.

Add eggs one at a time, along with a few spoons of flour to stop the mixture splitting/curdling.

Beginners note: Curdling is when the mixture begins to separate which impacts the final texture. However it’s not the end of the world and I’ve enjoyed a lot of them in my time!

Add the vanilla essence.

Note: This is optional, if you soaked the fruit in rum you won’t be able to taste it! Alternatively you can add a teaspoon of cinnamon, some nutmeg or lemon zest which would be quite nice.

Add flour, baking powder and salt in batches and fold in.

Once combined, fold in the drained mixed fruit and add the milk to achieve a dropping consistency.

Note: In the absence of milk, skip this step.

Divide the mixture between two 8 inch round tins lined with baking paper on the base.

Note: This mixture will come away from the sides so I’ve never had the need to grease my non-stick tins. You can also bake this in muffin tins or smaller rounds, just adjust timing accordingly.

Put in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Note: Because of the difference in ingredients, start checking from 20 minutes for small eggs. 

Beginners note: Do not open the door before 20 minutes or it will sink. A skewer through the middle should come back clean when the cake is cooked.

Leave to cool on a rack.

Custard Buttercream Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Custard powder
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 100g Butter
  • 200g Icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Custard Buttercream Method

Heat milk with custard powder until dissolved and cooked through and then leave to cool.

Combine softened butter with the custard mixture and salt.

Beat in the icing sugar and whisk on high till light and fluffy.

Apple Filling Ingredients 

  • Two apples (sharp ones preferable but any eating apple is fine)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Apple Filling Method

Peel and chop the apples to a 1cm dice and heat in a pan with a squeeze of lemon and a few tablespoons of water until softened but still holding their shape. Add more water if it evaporates too quickly.

Note: I like these as is, but you can add flavourings such as cinnamon depending on your mood.

Royal Icing Plaque Ingredients

  • 125g Royal Icing Sugar
  • Food colouring

Royal Icing Plaque Method

Draw a design on the back of some baking paper. 

Note: If you draw it on the top, it will come off on the icing which will limit you later if you decide you prefer the reverse pattern to the top.

Mix royal icing with water by slowly adding small amounts of water until it is a paste and continue to combine until it is pipeable.

Using a piping bag with the tip cut off pipe the outline of your design.

Note: Because of the small amounts being used, it’s easy to make several piping cones from some baking paper – just be careful not to overfill as it can get messy if it comes out the top!

Split the remaining icing and add food colouring and more water till it is more flowy (called flood icing) and use other piping bags or a teaspoon to fill the design.

Use a skewer to “pull” the icing into the edges of the design detail.

Leave to dry.

Note: This can take a day or more to dry depending on how thick the icing was so it’s worth doing this step first before you bake. You can also dry this gently in an oven that has been turned off, just be conscious of the temperature as it can brown the icing.


Sandwich cake with buttercream and apple filling.

Peel the baking paper from the royal icing plaque carefully and place in the middle of the cake.

Decorate with leftover buttercream and anything you have in the house.

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