With Alison Holst
This butterless, eggless, milkless cake is like the cakes of the 1940s when some basic ingredients were not easily available. It has a surprisingly good flavour and is well worth making.
Turn your oven to 150 C with the rack below the middle.
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 level tsp mixed spice
1 cup (half a 435g pack) lard
2 cups raisins
2 cups water
4 1/4 cups plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder AND 1 level tsp baking soda
Find a loaf or cake tin which holds 10 cups of water. (I use a 13 x 27cm loaf tin which is 8 cm deep) Line the long sides and bottom with a strip of non-stick baking paper, and coat the ends with butter or non-stick spray.
Measure the first five ingredients into a large pot. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has bubbled for 2 minutes, then stand the pot in cold or iced water and leave it there until it is almost cold. Stir the flour with a fork and sift it, the baking powder and baking soda into the pot and fold these dry ingredients through the cooled liquid mixture until there are no streaks or lumps visible. Using a spatula, put all the mixture from the pot into the prepared pan.
Level the top of the cake and put it into the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to stand until the cake or loaf is cold. It is best left overnight before cutting. Refrigerated in a plastic bag. the loaf will keep for at least a week.