19 September 2010

A Prize Winning Sultana Cake

While we were having lunch today Wayne had the TV on, watching Landline on the ABC.  One of the segments on the show featured Show cooks.  It seems that show cooking has had a resurgence in recent times, with this year's ECCA seeing an increase of 180 entries.

And can you believe the youngest entrant was just four years old!

As they were talking about fruit cakes, and how to cut all the fruit, line the tins etc Wayne hinted that perhaps I could make him one of my prize winning sultana cakes.  Yes, I have won a first prize for sultana cake, not at an agricultural show, but at Group CWA, an honour I am still proud of.

Anyone who knows me understands why I am so honoured. I'm not a great cook and I really don't enjoy everyday cooking. I have a few recipes that I make over and over (if you check my menu plan each month you'll know what I mean) because I can make them very well.

Sultana cake is one of those things.  My top 10 tips for a prize winning sultana cake are:

1.Use the freshest sultanas possible.
2.Always soak the sultanas overnight, drain and let them dry for 24 hours.
3.Dust sultanas with a little flour before adding them to the mixture.
4.Add 1 teaspoon of lemon essence with the liquids - it gives a delicious flavour.
5.Line the tin with 2 layers of brown paper and then 1 layer of baking paper.
6.After pouring the batter into the tin, wet your hands and gently pat the top to even out. This helps to stop the top cracking during baking.
7.Always pre-heat your oven and make sure it is exactly the right temperature before you put the cake in to bake.
8.Never open the oven during baking.
9.After baking time is up, take the cake from the oven and if it is singing to you it is done. If it's not singing, put it back in for another five minutes and test again.
10.Let cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool.

Now I've given away my secrets, I guess I should share the recipe too.

Sultana Cake

500g sultanas
250g butter
250g sugar
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 tsp lemon essence

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Cover the sultanas with water and bring to the boil (and yes, they were soaked overnight). Boil for 15 minutes and drain. Add butter to hot sultanas. Beat eggs and sugar together. Add to sultana mixture. Then add the sifted flour and baking powder. Add the lemon essence and mix well. Bake in a 20cm tin for about 11/2 hours. Test to see if it's done, if not return to oven for a few minutes and check again. Let cake cool in tin 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a cake rack.


  1. I don't quite understand your tip about dusting the sultanas with flour. The recipe says to boil the sultanas in water then add butter to them while they're still hot. Where does the flour-dusting come in?

    1. Hi The reason sultanas are dusted with flour is to stop them from all sinking to the bottom of the cake, when their dusted they distribute more evenly through out the cake. Kaye

    2. Thank you for that tip Kaye.. never knew that :-)

  2. I have been looking for a really good sultana cake recipe for a while now. I stumbles across your recipe and am keen to try it but have to ask... 500g sultanas? That is a lot! and 250g each of butter and sugar? Don't get me wrong... love my sugar, butter, full cream milk... give me all the human experiences lol! just need to know are these correct?

    1. Yes they are correct. It makes a very big cake, I use my 20cm x 5cm square tin to bake this cake.

  3. Hi Cath, if the cake sings to you....what does this mean? lol Cheers Donna Z :)

    1. You'll hear the fruit "singing" if you put your ear to it - it makes a very faint noise when it's done.

  4. When do you dust the sultanas with flour? After boiling and draining and before you add the butter? Sounds like too much moisture for them to be dusted. The sultanas are more likely to sink if the consistency of the batter is too wet. A stiffer mixture keeps the sultanas evenly distributed throughout the batter. The reason I know this is because I have a recipe that uses 1/2 cup water and the sultanas sink. My other recipe has no liquid at all and the sultanas don't sink.

    1. And that is why you dust the sultanas - so they stick to the mixture rather than just sinking to the bottom. Dust them after boiling and I mean dust - do not overload them with flour. Use a strainer to dredge them with about 1 tsp plain flour, stir it through then add the butter while they are still hot and continue the recipe. A stiffer mixture will also be a drier cake - this is a very moist and delicious sultana cake.

  5. I do not understand why you boil and soak the sultanas, it would remove nearly all the flavour. I soak them for a cake, and keep the soaking liquid as the liquid ingredient. I do this as some of the sugar and flavour comes into the liquid from the fruit and I then cut down the amount of sugar I add.

    1. Boiling the fruit plumps it up and makes it lovely and moist, and doesn't affect the taste at all :)


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