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Aberdeenshire Rich Fruit Cake

The 2003 summer has so far been blessed with the sunniest weather for years and hopefully this will have given a major boost to that most Scottish of outdoor events, Highland Games. Sadly the games, which are held all over Scotland, have suffered a down-turn in crowds over the past two years. The foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 caused the cancellation of eight major games and the curtailment of many others. Last year's sodden summer acted as a further deterrent to attendance at many games, indeed forcing the cancellation of Newburgh games in Fife, not only once, but twice. According to the Scottish Games Association, some five games have gone out of existence in the last six years.
So this week the Food column would issue an appeal - Save Our Games. Although we are nearing the end of the 2003 games season, there are at least eleven games on The Flag Events page between now and 20 September, from Glenfinnan to Bonar Bridge, which you can both support and enjoy. Nowhere else can you enjoy such a colourful mixture of Highland Dancing, Piping, Pipe Band Competitions, Running, Cycling, Heavy Events, Tug of war, Hill Races and much more, History, culture, tradition and sport, all in the one package, and all at a very reasonable admission price.
Aberdeenshire, the home of the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, with the famous March of the Lonach Men, on 23 August, and perhaps, the most well-known games of them all, The Braemar Gathering, on 6  September, inspires this week's recipe. Richly flavoured with rum and cinnamon, Aberdeenshire Rich Fruit Cake, fully lives up to its name!
Aberdeenshire Rich Fruit Cake
Ingredients : 1/2 lb (250 g) butter; 1/2 lb (250 g) caster sugar; 12 oz (350 g) self-raising flour; 4-5 eggs; 1 1/4 (625 g) currants; 4 oz (125 g) sultanas; 1/2 lb (250 g) mixed peel, finely chopped; 4 oz (125 g) glace cherries, finely chopped; 1/2 oz (15 g) cinnamon; 2-3 fl oz (50-75 ml) rum for mixing; 2-3 fl oz (50-75 ml) for soaking
Preheat the oven to 325 deg F/ 170 deg C/ gas mark 5
Warm the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Break the eggs into another bowl, beat and warm so that they are the same temperature as the butter and sugar. This is important since the fat is much less likely to separate and curdle if the eggs are also warm when they are added. To mix, beat the butter and sugar till they become light and creamy. Add the warmed egg gradually and beat in. Sift the flour and cinnamon and stir in gently. Add the currants, sultanas, peel and cherries and fold in. Mix to a fairly stiff consistency with rum. Put into a lined 9 inch (23 cm) round cake tin, level the top and bake for about three hours. To test - put in a skewer and if ready it should come out clean. When cool soak the base with rum. Decorate with marzipan and icing. 

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