Bake a traditional Queensland drover's fruit cake

Bake a traditional Queensland drover’s fruit cake

To celebrate Queensland week from May 30 to June 7, Alison Alexander has gathered some of the best produce the state has to offer to whip up this delicious drover’s fruit cake. This cake was first made by a drover working in the Chinchilla area on Queensland’s Darling Downs in the 1930s. Originally the fruits were in packet sizes and the cake was cooked in a camp oven. The quantities have been changed a little, but the rich flavour and aroma of the cake remains as delicious as ever. The use of treacle, rum, ginger and macadamias makes this a special Queensland treat.

700 g sultanas
500 g raisins
500 g currants
175 g glace ginger
1 cup chopped prunes
1 cup chopped dates
2 tablespoons treacle
1 cup rum – Bundaberg, of course!
4 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda
1 dessertspoon ground allspice
1 dessertspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
500 g unsalted butter
500 g brown sugar
10 eggs
1–1 ½ cups raw macadamia nuts


  1. Pre-heat oven to 130°C. Double line a 28–30 cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, place all the fruit and pour over the treacle and rum and mix well. Cover securely and leave overnight.
  3. Sift together the flour, bi-carbonate of soda and spices onto a large piece of paper.
  4. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a spatula, scrape butter mixture into the fruit mixture and tip in the flour. Mix all ingredients until well blended and then spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface and press the macadamia nuts into the cake mixture.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for about three to four hours or until the cake is cooked when tested with a wooden skewer. Remove from oven and immediately brush with two tablespoons rum.
  6. Leave the cake in its tin and cover while hot with a double layer of foil and leave for 24 hours to cool completely. Next day remove the cake from the tin and store in a well-sealed container.

Note: cake mixture can be halved and will keep for at least six months.

Recipe and image courtesy of food consultant Alison Alexander

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