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GLUTEN-FREE RICH, MOIST, SCRUMPTIOUS FRUIT CAKE

(Easy to make in a microwave)

I first tasted one of Joanna's delicious fruit cakes about 20 years ago, before we were married. It was beautifully moist, and crammed with lovely fruit and nuts. How could I resist a girl who could bake like that?

After we married, I discovered that her idea of a perfect holiday involves the following essential ingredients: just the two of us, a peaceful, quiet spot, preferably with a view of water, as little physical exercise as possible, a carton of books and a generous supply of food -- always including an enormous fruit cake. I must admit I adapted very quickly to the idea.

Over the years, her recipe for a successful holiday has stayed the same, but she has kept experimenting with, and improving, the fruit cake recipe. Not only does it now have several new ingredients, but it can be made quickly and easily in a microwave. A few years ago, she adapted it again, making it gluten-free.

Ingredients:

1 kg mixed fruit
125g (4oz) butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 dessertspoon Parisian essence (brown colouring, optional)
440g (14oz) unsweetened crushed pineapple
125g (4oz) almonds
1 teaspoon pre-gel starch OR xanthan gum OR guar gum
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup bought gluten-free flour OR soya, rice and potato flour
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur*
1 tablespoon Cointreau*

*

(If you don't have these liqueurs on hand you can buy a nip of each from your local pub, OR whatever liqueurs you prefer OR use almond essence and orange essence.)

Method:

Cook the fruit and liqueurs on HIGH for five minutes in the microwave. (Joanna cunningly uses a round glass dish about eight inches wide and four inches deep -- 20x10cm -- and also cooks the cake in it.)

Add the butter and spices. Tip this mixture into a large basin and stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Line the glass dish with baking paper, pour in the ingredients, cook on HIGH for 15 minutes, elevating the dish while cooking, for example by sitting it on a small upturned china dish.

Test with a skewer. (When the skewer comes out clean, the cake is cooked.)

Allow the cake to cool before removing from the container. You can simply remove the baking paper and the put the cake back in the dish it was cooked in, put the lid on and store in the fridge. How's that for simplicity!

If you can ignore the mouth-watering aroma, after a few days the taste improves as the flavours meld together.

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Allan Gardyne, Golden Beach, Queensland, Australia.
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