Friday, 30 August 2019


Fracatelli’s Fruit Cake 

Have you watched the TV series Victoria? Her chef was Italian, Charles Fracatelli and he was supposed to be the man who invented Coronation Chicken. He produced a cook book, scaled down for ordinary households and this is, more or less, his Fruit Cake recipe. The addition of ground almonds makes it very moist, along with all those citrus flavours.  As with most rich fruit cakes, it needs to be made and kept, feeding generously for many weeks to appreciate it at its best. [we ate the above after a week or two and it was absolutely lovely]

You will need a spring form 10 inch cake tin, greased, double lined and with at least two layers of thick brown paper tied around the outside. Pre heat your fan oven to 130C.

12 oz softened butter
8 oz caster sugar
4 beaten large eggs
12 oz plain flour
½ teaspoonful of ground nutmeg and cinnamon 
¼ teaspoonful ground cloves
grated zest of 2 large oranges and 1 large lemon
1 lb currants
8 oz sultanas
6 oz glacé cherries quartered
6 oz mixed peel, finely chopped
4 oz ground almonds
8 tablespoonfuls brandy
2 tablespoonfuls orange flower water

The Creaming Method, of course.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, whisk in the eggs, one at a time along with a little flour. Add the zests and then the fruit, flour, ground almonds, orange flower water and brandy. If the mixture is too stiff add a little more liquid, either more brandy or orange juice.

Tip into your prepared tin and level off, making a small indent as usual. Bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven down to 120C and bake for a further 1½ hours, maybe a little longer, until a fine knitting needle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for at least an hour then turn out onto a rack.

When cold, turn it upside down and insert a fine knitting needle into the cake at least 20 times. Pour a mixture of brandy and orange flower water all over and allow to soak in. Repeat weekly until ready to use. 

Oh My!! Another lovely recipe from my old dear friend Atty. I wonder how she got it?

Note: Have you made your Xmas cake yet? I have and mine is nicely tucked away after being fed with brandy. Get cracking.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Oatmeal and Buttermilk Gingerbread

This is so scrummy!!! Dead easy too. I have had this recipe for an age although have no idea now where it came from!

You will need a 8 inch square shallow tin, greased and line the base. I carried the parchment on up over the long sides to help lift it out. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C, although this time I made half as much again in a 13” x 9” tin.

2 oz butter
1 lb plain flour
4 oz medium oatmeal
2 oz dark muscovado sugar [or soft dark brown]
1 teaspoonful ground ginger
¼ teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
2 oz finely chopped crystallised ginger
1 tablespoonful golden syrup
2 tablespoonfuls treacle
1 large egg
a tub of buttermilk to mix, plus a little extra if the mixture is still stiff and/or some of the stem ginger syrup. [I used half half extra]

In a medium mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour and add the other dry ingredients.
In a small pan warm the treacle and syrup and then beat in the egg. Add to the flour mix along with enough buttermilk to make a soft dropping consistency. I used a tub plus extra milk, although as mentioned, I was making a larger amount. 

Tip into your prepared baking tin, roughly level off and bake for about 1 hour, maybe a tad longer, turning down to 150 after about 40 mins.

Allow to cool before cutting into squares and tucking in. I covered with a simple icing [using the ginger syrup] and some more yummy stem ginger, chopped. You can never have enough ginger. A great keeper in an airtight box. In fact it will improve!

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Another lovely summer dessert.  I used fresh peaches and a few blueberries for added colour, but you can use most any fruits eg plums, pears, apples. This dessert is so easy to make too. You will need a fairly deepish dish, mine was 2 x 7 x 9 inches. Butter the dish well.

Pre heat your fan oven to 170C

5 cupfuls of fruit - no need to be exact, a little more or less, whatever
2 oz sugar - I used soft light brown
spices of your choice. I used ½ tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornflour [this thickens the juices]

Prep your fruit. Peel the peaches into pasty shape slices and toss them in the lemon juice. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, spices and cornflour then add the lemon juice and fruit. Set aside for a mo.

1 large egg
5 oz caster sugar
3 oz melted butter
5 fl oz whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 oz SR flour

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and sugar together until pale and thick, then whisk in the liquid ingredients. Finally add the flour and mix until well combined. The mixture is quite stiff.

Tip the cake [scone like] mixture into your tin, spread out as evenly as you can then sit the fruit on the top, including all the lovely juices. No need to be too exact, it will sort of half sink to the bottom, making a fruity scrummy mix.

Bake in your pre heated oven for about 45 mins.

Enjoy. Just delicious.  Serve warm with clotted cream. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Moist Yellow Cake and Glossy Frosting

If I am making a simple plain celebration cake, I like to make an American style Yellow cake recipe. The ratio of ingredients is different from Victoria or Madeira, making it absolutely, deliciously moist, with a lovely texture and flavour.

I also find too much butter icing can be sickly and overpoweringly rich. On the other hand, a Frosting is easy to make, as light as a feather, easy to apply and as it sets, turns all slightly marshmallowy [is that a word?].

The cake pictured was a small, very simple birthday cake I made for my daughter last month.
I used 2 x 7 inch sponge tins, the bases lined.  Which easily cut into about 10 slices. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C.

6 oz butter 
8 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoonful vanilla extract or bean paste
3 large eggs
2 level teaspoonfuls baking powder
pinch salt
9 oz plain flour
1 oz ground almonds
4-5 oz buttermilk to mix

The creaming method. Cream the fat and sugar until really pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Tip in the remaining dry ingredients a little at a time along with some buttermilk until you have a nice soft dropping consistency, making sure it is well mixed and evenly combined.

Tip into your two prepared tins. [you know I am a saddo and use a scales to make sure it is divided equally!] and bake for approx 35-40 mins until nicely coloured and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tins for a few minutes then continue to cool on a wire rack. In the mean time…….

The Glossy Frosting

The quality below makes more than enough to cover the top and sides of the cake plus some in the middle too if you wish. It is so easy.

In a glass bowl place:

12 oz caster sugar
2 large egg whites
a teaspoonful vanilla extract
5 tablespoonfuls cold water
⅓ teaspoonful cream of tartar

Place this bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk for 5-6 mins. That’s it. Let it cool for a while.

As you can see I cut each sponge half, in half and used my fave - seedless raspberry jam. Spread over the frosting and decorate with a few fresh raspberries. Quick, easy, moist and so full of flavour. 

Notes. You can flavour your frosting in many other ways. Cut out some of the water and replace with lemon juice. Or Camp coffee. Whatever. The best cake.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Iced Chocolate Banana Cake

A celebration cake or one for a special occasion. This is a fairly large cake with an unusual mix of flavours. Of course, if you want a plain cake, leave off the topping. The scrumptious Chocolate and Banana topping is different and especially yummy. This cake originates from my old friend Atty.

You will need a 9 inch spring form cake tin, well buttered, lined, and pre heat your fan oven to 140C.

6 oz softened butter
8 oz caster sugar
3 beaten eggs
4 medium sized ripe bananas
a few drops of vanilla extract or bean paste
3 tablespoonfuls of whole milk
12 oz plain flour
3 teaspoonfuls of baking powder

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, with a little of the flour if necessary. Mash the bananas until really soggy and frothy [I continued with my hand electric whisk for a few seconds] and stir in the vanilla and milk. Fold the banana mix into the cake mixture, alternately with the flour and bp.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 60-70 mins. Cool in the tin for a short while. You can eat this cake as above, OR - so scrummy………

1lb icing sugar
1 large mashed banana
2 oz softened butter
2 oz cocoa

Add the mashed ripe banana to the icing sugar along with the very soft [but not runny] butter. Mix well then add the cocoa, you should have a soft dropping consistency. If stiff add a teaspoonful of hot water, although you should not need it.

This is enough topping to cover the top and sides of the cake. Spread over carefully and fork through to give an interesting texture. I added a few chopped nuts.


My dear friend Atty Carden passed on many recipes to me, we both loved to cook and met over the Bridge table in Falmouth, many years ago - almost 30. Since she sadly passed away, her daughter Kirsten has given to me many of her books and this was in one of them…..

Green Tomato Tray Bake Cake

Is your greenhouse or garden overflowing with tomatoes? Mine are slow ripening with this dratted rain! Well here is a great recipe where you can use up some of those green tomatoes, given to me by Trish, a very old friend, who lives in Plymouth. In fact our mothers were best friends. You would never believe in a million years what the main ingredient is and it is so light with the most unusual flavour.

Skinning green tomatoes is not easy, so I suggest using a small sharp knife, or similar, to peel them. You will need a well buttered 12 x 9 inch approx, tray bake tin, fairly deep, at least 2 inches. Line the base, hanging the parchment over the long sides to help you lift it out. Pre heat your fan oven to 170C

1lb green tomatoes, skinned and chopped
8 oz  vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
12 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
10 oz raisins and sultana mix 
6 oz chopped walnuts - I used half walnuts half pecans

No method, Just place all ingredients, except the fruit and nuts, in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the fruit and nuts.  How easy is that??

Bake for about 60-70 mins until firm to the touch. Turn down if browning too much. Cool in the tin for a short while then lift onto a wire rack. Cut into squares and enjoy this unusual cake. We had it for dessert with cream! Just delicious. Thanks Trish.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Currant Bread

I love currants and I love yeast cookery. What a combination. This lovely, very old recipe below, makes two x 1lb loaves and was given to me by a friend a long time ago. The loaf keeps fresh in an airtight tin for a few days and they freeze perfectly. So very handy for unexpected visitors. You could use fresh yeast [1 oz] and place in the liquid to start working. These days I feel it is too much like hard work.

You will need 2 x 1lb tins and pre heat your fan oven to about 200C. I used my new 1lb box loaf tins with small holes in the sides and base. Love them!

1 lb strong plain flour
pinch salt
1 oz caster sugar
1 oz soft butter
2 heaped teaspoonfuls dried yeast [quick, easy bake]
½ pint warm milk and water mixed
6-7 oz currants [the original recipe says washed and dried!]
a little extra milk and caster sugar [or demerera]

In a medium bowl, place the flour, salt and sugar, then rub in the butter. Add the dried yeast and liquid and knead until smooth, at least 8-10 mins. I use a food mixer with a dough hook. Leave to rise for about an hour.

Knock back the risen dough and work the currants into the dough as evenly as you can. Divide into two pieces [I use scales] and place in your prepared tins. Press and leave to rise once more, for about 45 mins.

Bake in your pre heated oven for about 35 mins. Turn down a little after 20 mins. While they are still hot brush with a little extra milk and sprinkle over the sugar.

Will you be able to keep your mitts off the bread until it is cold, before slathering it with butter and digging in? I doubt it!

I used whole milk.