My friend Mary was born and raised by her grandmother in a little village called Ranafast on the coast of Donegal while her parents worked in England. At eight years old her parents took her back to England with them. Mary's life went from living in a traditional Irish cottage, speaking Gaelic,and having the freedom to run barefoot along the beach and in the fields, to an English town and school. Once in England she had to speak English!! She had no freedom, had to wear shoes and had to cope with the abuse that many Irish people in England suffered then. It was a transition that Mary never really got over, and she spoke about her idyllic time living in Ireland often, and returned to visit family in her beloved cottage in Ranafast whenever she could.

Mary grew up and married in England, and raised children of her own, and that is when our friendship started. This recipe is one that was passed on to her by her grandmother. Mary would often make it and bring it to our house knowing it would be very much appreciated . (We had four hungry children who loved Mary's cakes). Sadly Mary passed away two years ago at the age of 78. Before she left us she gave me all of her recipes. We miss Mary dreadfully, but her memory lives on in her stories and the lovely Irish recipes she left with me. I hope you enjoy Mary's cake as much as we have.

  • 275ml (10 fl oz) water
  • 450g (1 lb) dried mixed fruit
  • 450g (1 lb) Chopped Dates
  • 150g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • 150g (5 oz) butter
  • 275g (10 oz) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 2 eggs, beaten


Cook: 1hr 30min  

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4. Grease a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin,or 9" Round Cake Tin and line with baking paper
  2. Combine the water, dried fruit, sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and boil gently for about 10 minutes.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool for a good five minutes
  4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice into a large bowl. Pour in the boiled mixture, and stir until well blended. Mix in the eggs.
  5. Pour into the greased loaf tin.
  6. Bake for 90 minutes in the preheated oven, until a skewer or knife inserted into the top comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake in the tin for at least 10 minutes before removing.


You can use any mixture of dried fruit. Boiling the fruit rehydrates it resulting in a beautifully moist fruit cake which is lovely with butter and a cup of good strong Irish tea.

Mary said the cake tastes better if you leave the flavours to mingle for 24 hours.. I don't know if this is true as it never lasted long enough in our house to find out  :)

Check out "The Irish Kitchen" group for more recipes and discussions.

Do pop along and have a look at our Website to find our Podcast  which tells stories from Celtic mythology and features musicians ,art, news and much much more. You can also come along and chat with us on Facebook and Twitter  We look forward to meeting you :)

Tags: Cake, Fruit, Recipes, Tea

Views: 5800

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for sharing this! I may have to give the recipe a try!!

Awesome, Ruthie.  Looks nice and moist.  Thanks for sharing.

Looks scrumptious, Ruthie. More please. :-)

Looks like another offering for my Chrsitmas table has been found!



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