Chunky fig, apricot and prune cake


…a cake that helps you to lose weight?

Congratulations to a Tokyo-based company: it seems they have packaged and marketed the very negation of eating. A nebulous concept you retort? No, it seems. You can eat cake and lose weight at the same time, thanks to DHC or dihydrocapsiate,  extracted from a particular type of chilli pepper that makes the body burn more calories. The product has been declared safe by the Food Standards Agency, it remains for the EC to decide whether it can be sold.

One of life’s great conundrums has been harnessed; this is the Crème De La Mer of the food industry, or just simply one of many ‘Frankenstein’ foods that we can find on our supermarket shelves today: bread pumped up with omega three, breakfast cereals sprayed with vitamins and minerals and cloned cattle in the human food chain. A cause for celebration or hesitation? Binge eating takes on a whole new meaning; self-discipline and restraint become throwaway commodities. My instinct: to cook a cake that is good for me (any excuse) without any chemical compounds from Tokyo shoved in to convince me that it’s OK to eat it, I can deal with that myself thank you.

Chunky fig, apricot and prune cake à la Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – as healthy and yummy as cake gets.


  • 225g light wholemeal cake flour or spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 rounded tsp ground mixed spice
  • 150g dried figs
  • 150g stoned prunes
  • 150g dried apricots
  • 85g orange marmalade
  • Zest 1 lemon, finely grated
  • Zest 1 orange, finely grated
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 medium eggs

1. Lightly grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and spice into a bowl and whisk lightly to aerate and combine.

2. Use kitchen scissors to cut the dried fruit into chunky pieces – cut each fig into about 6, removing the hard stalk, and each prune and apricot into 2 or 3. Combine them in a bowl. Beat the marmalade with a fork to loosen it, then stir in the lemon and orange zest. Combine the marmalade with the dried fruit.

3. Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat well until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour/spice mix with each. Fold in the remaining flour with a large metal spoon, then fold in the marmalade and dried fruit as lightly as you can. Try not to overmix it; everything should be just combined.

4. Spoon into the prepared tin and place in an oven preheated to 160°C/gas mark 3. Bake for 1½ hours, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.


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