Archives for category: Fruity cakes

This is one of my fail safe, go to recipes. A Nigel Slater classic, serve it warm with double cream or custard, or cooled with whipped cream. The pastry needs a bit of care – and time – to get right, but is worth it for the soft crumbly base to hold the soft and sweet pears.

75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
Splash of milk
1kg ripe pears
15g butter
3 lightly heaped tbsp muscovado sugar

Make the pastry by dicing the butter and beating (by hand or in a food processor) with the sugar until a smooth thick cream. Add the egg yolk then the flour, and bring to a soft ball with the milk. Turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead softly for a minute or two to make it easier to work. Roll into a disc to line the pie plate (use one about 18cm across the bottom, 24cm across the top). Carefully lift into place and press into shape. Trim the edges and patch up any holes. Refrigerate for 30mins.

Set the oven to 180 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Cut the pears into quarters, peeling and coring then slicing into 1cm wide chunks. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the pears then the sugar. Cook gently for about 10mins until the fruit is translucent and soft. Lift from the pan using a slotted spoon and arrange over the bottom of the chilled pastry case. Boil any remaining juices in the pan until only a few tbsp are left, then spoon over the pears. Bake for 40 mins until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the pears are beginning to colour.



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!


Perfect little nibbles for a Christmas party, but be warned, these are very sweet and very more-ish! Easy enough for kids to make too. Quantities below make about 24 snowdrops, which means the chef can try a couple, for quality testing purposes of course….

200g white chocolate
4 tbsp condensed milk
25g butter
8 ready to eat dried apricots
4 good handfuls rice crispies
Hundreds and thousands to decorate

Break the chocolate into squares in a large bowl over a pan of water. Be careful that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the condensed milk and butter and stir occasionally until melted. Meanwhile, chop (or cut with a pair of scissors) the apricots into quarters. Beat the chocolate and milk mixture until smooth and take off the heat to stir in the apricots and crispies. If the mix is very stiff, pop it back on top of the pan for a minute, stirring well. When all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, use a teaspoon or your fingers to put small blobs of mix onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Decorate with hundreds and thousands and leave in the fridge to set (about an hour).



Yum, yum, yum! This Ocado recipe surely counts as one of my five a day, though the dentist wouldn’t be too pleased with how the sauce sticks to the teeth. I think this would be improved by more and thicker sponge – perhaps double mix plus some extra flour. I will just have to make it again and try…

4 large pears, peeled and sliced
125g flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
1 egg
200ml milk
75g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
150g dark sugar

Arrange the pears over the bottom of a buttered 1.5l baking dish. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the caster sugar, butter, milk and egg until smooth and pale. Pour over the pears. Melt the syrup and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stirring until the sugar melts. Bring to the boil without stirring then take off the eat and carefully pour over the cake mix. It will sink into the mixture – don’t worry! Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the pudding is golden brown. Allow to stand for five minutes then serve with ice cream or double cream.



A bit late – this is really a bonfire night cake. But better late than never… Gooey, chewy and very nice. It is quick to prepare though takes a while to cook, but makes the kitchen smell gorgeous in the process. The only downside is having to leave it for a couple of days to develop flavour and stickiness – but it’s worth the wait.

2 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp black treacle
100g muscovado sugar
200g flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter
6 tbsp oats
100g raisins
1 medium egg
75ml milk

Melt the golden syrup, treacle and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan then leave to cool. Sift the flour and bicarb into a large mixing bowl then rub in the butter to make rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and raisins. Beat the egg and milk together then beat into the mix along with the melted ingredients. Stir until smooth and a consistent light brown colour. Pour into a prepared 25 cm square tin and bake for about an hour at 170 degrees. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins then move to a wire rack to cool further. Wrap in greaseproof paper to develop further for a day or two.



Only “carrot cake-ish” because I forgot to get any more carrots… But actually the smaller than intended quantity works very well in little cupcakes. Spice them up as much as desired; maybe leave some unfrosted, as although I think that it adds a delicious finish, it’s not to everyone’s (eg my husband’s) taste. The quantities below makes 25-30 cakes.

175g butter
175g sugar
3 medium eggs
2 medium carrots, grated
75g sultanas, soaked in apple juice for a few hours
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Grating of nutmeg
100g cream cheese
15g butter
150g icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour if the mix threatens to curdle. Stir in the carrot and sultanas, then sift the flour, baking powder and spices and stir in carefully too. Put a teaspoon into each cupcake case then bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are risen and browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack then mix the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together using a flat knife to make a smooth frosting. Spread about a teaspoon’s worth onto each cake and allow to set.



A request bake by my husband for the in-laws. I tried hard to avoid using (yet another can of) condensed milk, but I figured if Jamie, Delia and Antony W-T all use it, it was clearly the way to go. In fact this is a Phil Vickery recipe(from the Carnation website) and is simply delicious. I think next time I will omit the lime zest in favour of just using juice, but that’s a personal preference for a smooth pudding. The key to success in this instance is to leave the biscuit base to chill for as long as possible – overnight at the very least – and to make sure it goes a good way up the side of the tin.

250g / 9oz digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
100g / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
397g condensed milk
Finely grated zest and juice of five limes
300ml double cream
50g / 2oz dark chocolate, melted

Stir the butter and biscuit crumbs together and press into a 20cm / 8″ loose bottom cake tin. Ensure the base goes over an inch up the side of the tin – the sides will be a gentle slope rather than straight. Chill well for as long as possible. Whisk together the condensed milk, juice and zest and cream until smooth. Carefully pour into the base and leave to set in the fridge for at least an hour. Decorate the top by quickly flicking the melted chocolate from a spoon across the top of the pudding. Remove from the tin and serve on its own or with some creme fraiche.