Monday, March 12, 2012

Blanche Fury Tea Break: Staffordshire Fruitcake

Blanche Fury is the story of poor relation Blanche Fullerton (Valerie Hobson) who arrives at Clare Hall to be her young cousin's governess. Blanche quickly attracts the attention of her pupil's father, Laurence Fury (Michael Gough) and the two are soon married. However, Blanche can't keep herself away from Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger), the illegitimate son of the former master of Clare Hall, who will stop at nothing to make that grand estate his own.

Blanche Fury is set near Stafford in Staffordshire. Lucky me, I had a recipe I wanted to try for Staffordshire Fruitcake. The terrible thing is that I had to wait two weeks to try my creation. Cruelty.

Staffordshire Fruitcake

1/2 cup sprouted barley flour
1 1/2 cups sprouted whole-wheat flour
1 1/3 cups almond meal
1 lb currants
10 tablespoons soft butter
3/4 cup demerara sugar
4 eggs

1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon black treacle or molasses
1/3 cup brandy
zest of 1 lemon
1 orange

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8" square cake tin with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift the barley flour and whole-wheat flour into a mixing bowl, leaving any large pieces of bran behind. If you leave these in, they'll give the cake a sawdust texture. You don't want that. Stir in the almond meal. Set aside.

Pour the currants into a bowl, breaking up any that have stuck together. Toss with a couple tablespoons of flour, just enough to coat the currants. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, following each with a tablespoon of flour mixture. Beat in the rest of the flour mixture in a few additions, adding the mace and baking powder with the last addition. Beat in the treacle, brandy, lemon zest and orange zest. Add juice from the orange, as needed, to make the batter a dropping consistency. Fold in the currants, combining well and making sure the flour coating the currants is mixed into the batter. Spoon batter into prepared tin and level. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container for two weeks before cutting and serving.

Adapted from "Staffordshire Fruitcake" in Laura Mason, The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook (London: National Trust Books, 2009), 258.


About ingredients:
  • If you use non-sprouted flours, you'll probably need less liquid. Sprouted flours are drier. Be sure not to skip the sifting of the sprouted flours. Yes, it removes some of the nutrients but I think it's worth it for the improved texture. No one likes sawdust! The sprouted wheat and barley flours I used are from To Your Health. Bob's Red Mill makes (not sprouted) stone-ground wheat flour and barley flour. The barley flour isn't required--you could use all wheat.
  • I found the almond meal in the refrigerated raw nut section of my local health-food store.
  • If you can't find currants, use raisins.
  • The butter I used is a pasture butter which is salted.
  • If you can't find mace, use nutmeg. (You may need less.)

Blanche Fury is currently available on Netflix streaming.


  1. It looks like it was worth the two week wait! xx

    1. Definitely! Amazing how fruitcake doesn't seem to go stale.

  2. I am so hungry and this fruitcake looks divine. How did you wait 2 weeks? I could really use a big slice with some tea right now. Love the addition of barley flour!

    1. Since there's no way I'm giving up flour, I'm trying to make sure I get as many nutrients as possible out of it! Barley flour is pretty awesome.

      Eating chocolate cake in the interim helped me wait the two weeks. :-)

  3. That cake looks FABULOUS. And I loved the pics of all the off screen tea drinking. As Marlene Dietrich once said of us, the British “have an umbilical cord which has never been cut and through which tea flows constantly” - so true!

    1. I was so excited to find those tea break photos. What fun!

      Marlene was a wise woman! I'm pretty sure tea makes everything better, though.

  4. I always laugh about fruitcake. Thinking about your daddy faithfully wrapping it and unwrapping it to douse it with brandy(?)every day!

    1. That Christmas fruitcake has got to be fed! Otherwise it would be sad (and hungry).

  5. What a luscious looking fruitcake, makes me want to take a bite.
    And I don't even have a sweet tooth.

  6. The perfect cake for a cuppa. Love.


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