Archives for category: Contains alcohol – cheers!

This is based on my really easy fruit cake recipe (see 29th Sept 2011). Soak the fruit overnight in something festive (eg brandy) or fruit juice to make the cake really moist. Make sure you have a decent cake board to use – I improvised by covering the cardboard from a four bottle pack of beer with silver foil, but it wasn’t really strong enough (the finished cake is very heavy). Decorate however you wish – keep it simple with a ribbon around the edge, or go all out with sparkles or a snow scene.

4oz / 100g margarine
6oz / 150g sugar (any sort)
4oz / 100g dried fruit
8 fl oz water
1 tssp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tssp mixed spice
Whole nutmeg (grate to taste)
2 beaten eggs
8oz / 200g self-raising flour
500g ready to roll marzipan
500g ready to roll icing

Boil the margarine, sugar, fruit, water, bicarb and spices for about 10 minutes (until the marg is melted, the bicarb has stopped bubbling and the mix dark and glistening). Allow to cool for about an hour. Stir in the eggs and flour and mix well. The mix will be quite runny and lumpy – don’t worry! Pour into a prepared / silicone tin (I prefer a loaf tin for this recipe). Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for about 90 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (after about 30 minutes place some greaseproof or brown paper over the top of the cake to prevent burning before it is cooked). Turn onto a wire cooling rack until cold.


Transfer to a cake board. Dust a flat, clean surface and rolling pin with plenty of icing sugar and knead the marzipan (still in its packet) a little to make it pliable. Roll out the marzipan until it is the right size and shape to cover the cake (remember to cover the sides as well!). Carefully lift it onto the cake and smooth down. Trim the edges to neaten. If any holes appear, patch up (see bottom right of picture below).


If using royal icing, leave the marzipan to dry overnight. If using ready to roll, there’s no need to wait. As with the marzipan, knead the icing in its packet, then roll out using lots of icing sugar to stop it sticking. Tip a little vodka into your hands and use to wet the cake all over (this helps the icing to stick). Carefully lift the icing and cover the cake. Trim the edges. To make a smooth shiny surface, wash and dry your hands well and rub the icing with your palms (honestly!).


Decorate however you like. To make a pattern with silver balls, draw a template on a piece of paper; hold in place on the cake and use a cocktail stick to make holes where the balls will go;use the holes to push the balls into place.

Serve in thick slices. Enjoy!



I made this for the first time earlier this week for dinner with friends. Wow – it was good! Easy to do (well, lining the tin is a bit fiddly, but the actual cooking isn’t), though it has to be made well in advance – start it two days before needed. If we weren’t having pork for Christmas, this would definitely be on the menu, especially as it keeps well too. I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website here

400g pork fillet
2 cloves of garlic
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp whisky
12 good quality sausages
250g unsalted pistachios in shells / 100g unsalted pistachios
8 ready to eat dried apricots
1 1/2 packs smoked, rindless streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
Butter for greasing

Dice the pork fillet, removing any fat or sinewy bits. Crush the garlic and put in a large bowl with the pork, thyme and whisky. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to marinade. The next day, slit open the sausages (I use scissors to do this) and put the meat into the bowl with the other pork. Shell and add the pistachios, season well and mix thoroughly. Prepare a 1 lb loaf tin by lightly buttering it, placing the remaining sprigs of thyme along the bottom and lining it with streaky bacon. Take your time on this bit, ensuring that the rashers overlap and there are no gaps. The ends are tricky – use more rashers and press well to get it to stick. Spoon half of the meat into the tin and press down well. Arrange the apricots in a line down the middle, then add the rest of meat. Press down well then cover the top with more rashers of bacon lengthways and then tuck the ends of the rashers lining the tin over the top. Ensure that there are no gaps. Cover with a piece of buttered foil (butter side down!) and place the tin in a large roasting tin then half fill with boiling water. Cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour at 180 degrees.

Allow to cool then place in the fridge with a piece of cardboard and some tins on the top to press it down. Leave overnight. To remove from the tin, dip it briefly in boiling water (not too long as I did, or the butter and jelly all melts and seeps out!) then turn onto a serving board. Slice as required – these quantities make a terrine that will easily serve 12 or more. Serve with cornichons, chutney and crusty bread.



We were given a bottle of rum yesterday, so I decided to rustle up a cake based on the classic rum and ginger cocktail. I can’t tell you how successful it was, though, as the cake is still soaking up the sugar glaze and won’t be ready until tomorrow. I think it must be a first in this house not to eat at least some of a cake on the day it’s baked!

8oz / 200g butter
12oz / 300g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
12oz / 300g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 fl oz milk
2 fl oz rum
2 tablespoons glace ginger

2 tablespoons sugar
2 fl oz rum

Cream butter and sugar together until smooth and pale. Add eggs one at a time, with a pinch of flour with each to prevent curdling. Mix milk and rum and sift flour and baking powder together and gradually mix into a batter, alternating milk/rum and flour/baking powder. Stir in the ginger. Pour into prepared tin and bake at 180 degrees for about an hour. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then turn out upside down onto a cooling rack. Make glaze by mixing together rum and sugar and brush over the underside of the cake then the top. Leave the cake overnight (and preferably longer) before serving.



Postscript: this cake is delicious! It needs to be made with darker sugar to be a true descendent of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail, but the rum and ginger flavour is surprisingly delicate and the cake is super moist.

It might not quite keep a doctor away, but today’s baking has done my horrid cold no end of good. Medicinal flapjack might not sound tasty, but bear with me…

I actually made a half and half batch: half the mixture as normal flapjack, then after I had put that into the tin I added the extra ‘medicinal’ ingredients to the other half, put it into the tin and baked it all together. This worked surprisingly well and I’m going to experiment with this technique in the future. The quantities below are for a whole batch of flu beating flapjack, so adjust accordingly if you need.

6 large dessertspoons golden syrup
3 teaspoons honey
200g / 8oz butter
330g / 12oz rolled oats
6 teaspoons chopped glace ginger
2 good slugs whisky (whatever you have in the cupboard – apologies to any connoisseurs but I used a 1978 Aberfeldy…)

Melt the syrup, honey and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat. When melted together, take off the heat and stir in the oats, ginger and whisky. Bake in a greased and bottom lined tin about 10″ by 10″ at 180 degrees for about 25 mins or until golden brown. Take out when still soft, cut into pieces and leave in the tin to cool before removing. Makes about 16 squares.