Thursday 5 November 2015

Fruit Cake and Flower Girls

You may be wondering what fruit cake and flower girls have in common but read on and all will become clear …

It's a lovely sunny morning ...

The recipe looks straightforward, so I'm sure it will be OK. Whoops - please excuse the blob, I softened the butter a little too much!

Plain Fruit Cake

Ingredients 150g (5oz) soft margarine (I used butter), 150g (5oz) castor sugar, 2 eggs, 275g (10oz) mixed dried fruit 225g (8oz) self-raising flour 1 level teaspoon mixed spice, 100 ml (4 fl oz) milk.

(One) Preheat oven (150 deg C, 300 deg F, Gas 2)

Castor sugar in the bowl and flour in the scales - we are under way.

1 level teaspoon (and a bit extra because I love it!) mixed spice

(Two) Put all the ingredients together into a mixing bowl (told you it was easy) & stir well until the mixture is blended to a soft dropping consistency. 

(Three) Turn into a prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 2 hours until firm to the touch.

(Four) Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

(Five) Try to decide between a pretty plate or one that tells it like it is!

(Six) Settle for the one that tells it like it is.

(Seven) Sit back and enjoy.

In recent years our Christmas cakes have come from Marks & Spencer but this year I want to make my own hence the practice run before tackling the real thing. My sister kindly sent me her foolproof (never had a failure) Christmas cake recipe, and that will be my next challenge. 

Our son, his wife and their two little daughters are coming over from Australia. We have all kinds of things planned with a trip to Disneyland, Paris and a few days in London at the top of the list. We also have a big family get together and a trip to the pantomime to look forward to.  We are counting down the days until the 6th December when they arrive. It will be two years and one month since we last saw them. 

Zoe Rose and Lilly Grace when we were last together. Malaysia 2013.

Zoe Rose and Lilly Grace last weekend (with thanks to their mummy for the photographs)

Zoe Rose

Lilly Grace

Don’t they all look adorable?

I promise not to bombard you with lots of cookery inspired posts – books will be back on the menu very soon! However, I must just tell you about my Madeira cake ... no, not really!

Lots of you know the very talented Willie (he of the amusing comments) but did you know he can cook?  To prove it, he has agreed to share his Christmas cake recipe with us all!  

Ingredients: or something like this

* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs

* Nuts
* 2 bottle brandy
* 2 cups of dried fruit soaked in brandy

Sample the brandy to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the brandy
again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and
drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a
large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point
it's best to make sure the brandy is still OK. Try another cup... Just in
case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit with plenty of brandy.

Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried
druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the brandy to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt.
Or something. Check the brandy. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your
nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you
can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to
fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl
through the window. Finish the brandy and wipe counter with the cat.
Take a taxi to Tesco and buy cake.

Bingle Jells

Willie Wine....Top chef!  Living on a mountain, somewhere in Dorset! Hic! 


  1. I was going to day how lovely the cake looked, Barbara - until I saw the photos of your gorgeous girls....absolutely beautiful! You must be so proud xxxx

    1. Thanks Marilyn, we are as proud as punch (not that I know what that actually means!) guess I should look it up.

  2. I was going to day how lovely the cake looked, Barbara - until I saw the photos of your gorgeous girls....absolutely beautiful! You must be so proud xxxx

  3. Have Some Madeira M'Dear....
    She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice,
    she was fair,she was sweet seventeen.
    He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice,
    he was base, he was bad, he was mean.....
    (HeHe! Won't bore you with the rest).

    Although l cook.....Willie...Your a fantastic cook.....!
    Yes! Yes! I know! :). Don't like to boast! HeHe!
    Don't really do cakes...except...Eat them!
    I'm very much a savoury person...After dinner with the
    vintage port...Cheese, salami, olives, savouries etc...
    Though always keep ice~cream in the freezer, just in
    case! Even the kids love the olives...Come to my home
    for a meal...You'll eat like a Sicilian...!!! :).

    Oh! Must say, love the kids ALL dressed up...Mia Mama,
    used to dress me just the same, though with a dicky~bow.
    Still wear one to this day..Won't catch me me in a common
    or garden tie...! Bit a flare needed! But, they look lovely!
    Tell what Barbara....I think we'll all looking forward to December 6th.
    Wonderful...God Bless You!
    Perhaps you'll make that Christmas cake recipe l sent you...! :).

    1. I don’t mind if I do, thank you. What a shame you finished the rhyme there – does it get a little risqué?

      The vintage port, cheese, salami and olives sound very grand (and very delicious!) The most you are likely to get after dinner in this house is a mint! What a shame ... the poor girl must be starving I hear you say. Hehe

      So sweet of you to say you will be looking forward to December 6th, you are a lovely man Willie – did anyone ever tell you that?

      I would love to share your Christmas cake recipe with readers of this blog – would that be OK with you?

    2. No! No! The rhyme does'nt get risque'...
      It's quite famous in fact....Just Google
      the title..the lyrics should be there some
      where...Flanders and Swann, used to do it..
      In the 'Good Old Days'.

      Of course you can share my recipe with other
      Blog readers...Usual royalties will apply...!!! :>).

    3. Thanks Willie, please contact my agent re royalties I'm sure he will oblige! Google here I come....

  4. My goodness, looking every inch the little princess and handsome gent, what lovely photograph. I bet you are counting down the days to their arrival and probably have been doing so for a long while now.

    A delicious looking cake as well. Something I haven't had for a long time as because of Mr T's Crohn's Disease he isn't allowed to have it and though he wouldn't mind my doing so it somehow feels a bit cruel to eat it in front of him.

    1. Hi Tracy, the countdown has been going on for weeks, but it really does feel close now. I just wish they were safely here as I worry all the time they are in the air.

      What a shame you can’t eat cake with Mr. T, just make sure you make up for it when you are on your own. No, I shouldn't have said that, sorry. :-)

  5. I think I'm the only one around here that likes fruit cake. It's not too popular anymore but your delicious recipe looks wonderful! Adorable OMG, Lily and Zoe are gorgeous little girls. Sooo cute. BTW, if you're coming all the way to Anaheim CA for Disneyland please let me know--my home is only an hour and a half or two hours in traffic and we could meet or have you over for tea. :) You don't even have to bring cake.

    1. Oh Eve, that would be absolutely wonderful, and I would happily bring cake, but we are going to Disneyland…Paris…! What a shame.

  6. Lovely blog Sister, you are becoming a real chef and gorgeous photo's of the girls. Enjoy your friend Willie's contribution as well xxxx

    1. Hi Sue, I will never be as good as you, but I’m having fun trying. Your fruit cake next and then I might have a go at Willie’s! xxxx

  7. Oh my, those flower girls are so precious. I LOVE Willie´s recipe. I have never been fond of fruit cake but yours looks good, easy and not too sweet. May surprise my mother-in-law and make it!

    1. Go for it Darlene, I’m sure it would earn you some brownie points from your mother in law, and it is simplicity itself.

  8. Ha ha! I love Willie's cake recipe :D

    Actually, your cake looks gorgeous !

    Barbara, your granddaughters are so beautiful, and how elegant they look in their bridesmaid/flower-girl dresses. I can imagine how excited you and your husband must feel to be seeing your family again after such a long time ♥

    1. Hi Yvonne, Willie is such a treasure. I will be trying his recipe very soon – would you like a slice???

    2. Ooh, well, I can help you to sample the brandy if you like, just to make sure it's right for the recipe ;)

    3. I really think you should. I would hate to mess up Willie’s recipe!

  9. Willie lol! Love his cooking (and cleaning up) style. My goodness, Barbara, has it been two years and a month since you last saw the girls? They look so sweet and pretty at the wedding. I'm guessing the stress for this week is from the preparations for the upcoming holidays? Take a deep breath. Your fruit cake looks yummy and the cutlery and flower arrangements all look very pretty! Well done. Now go get some rest ~ xoxo C.

    1. It doesn’t seem possible does it, but it really will be two years and one month when we see them. We had a message from Karen (our daughter in law) this morning to say she has started packing. So exciting but yes, there is still a bit to do. Once they arrive none of it will matter so we just want them to get here now. xxxx

  10. Hi Barbara,

    Awe, they do look adorable and those photos are truly wonderful. Photos to treasure. I'm know in the mood for fruitcake for some strange reason.

    Thank you for such a delightful post, Barbara.

    Gary :)

    1. Hi Gary, get that apron on and start baking!
      Thanks for your sweet comment. :-)

  11. Beautiful flower girls, Barbara, and I love the cake, dishes and napkins! :)

    1. Thank you Linda, we think the girls are beautiful but then we would wouldn't we. :-)

  12. Willie's recipe is a hoot! The poor cat...
    Your photos are variously scrummy and gorgeous - and it's lovely that your granddaughters will be arriving on December 6th as that is St Nicholas' Day. There are all sorts of interesting customs from Germany and Holland (to name just a couple of countries that celebrate it) that you could treat them to.

    1. Hi Sue, Really interesting to read about St Nicholas’ Day I had no idea about the custom of leaving shoes outside on the 5th December. I’m going to read more about it after replying to your comment.

      I tried to buy pretty advent calendars for the girls, but they all seem to have chocolates in them now. I suppose it makes it more exciting, and the Zoe and Lilly will probably be happy to have six chocolates in one go, but I think it’s a little sad in a way. The pleasure of opening a door and counting down the days has been replaced with a chocolate treat.

      I felt sorry for the cat too!

  13. Good morning sweet friend! I am so glad to finally make it over here in the quiet of the morning before my day becomes busy! Oh the children look adorable in their "grown up" clothing, walking in straight lines! The little crowns, the little men in their looks like a scene in one of the vintage books you share.

    AND THE CAKE! I must tell you, we are smitten with The Great British Baking Show hosted by Mary Berry and Paul (gorgeous) Hollywood. We have been enjoying watching the bakers bake in the lovely scenery of the English countryside. I am learning a lot about baking that I never knew, and CASTOR SUGAR....I cannot find it here! I think I prefer what you all do: measure the dry ingredients with a scale. Brilliant!

    The holidays are coming and I am so thrilled. Enjoy your festivities my dear! Anita

    1. Hello Anita,

      I agree with you about Paul Hollywood – he is completely and absolutely gorgeous!!!

      I found this on I hope it is helpful

      Caster sugar/castor sugar/superfine sugar is a fine form of granulated sugar. It is used in baking as it dissolves more quickly than granulated sugar. In the UK granulated sugar tends to have quite large granules so is not suitable for baking. However in the US granulated sugar tends to be finer and can be used for baking in some recipes, particularly if the butter and sugar are creamed together for a while at the beginning of the recipe.
      You can make your own caster sugar by grinding granulated sugar slightly in a food processor or blender (or a very clean coffee grinder). However you do need to be careful when doing this as it can be easy to end up with a sugar powder instead of finer granules.

      I am really enjoying all your photos on Instagram, the fall colours are spectacular.

      Have a wonderful day, much love Barbara

  14. Not too keen on Christmas pud but I do like Madeira. let's have your recipe. I like faffing about in the kitchen when my beloved isn't there.

    1. Hi Roger, I’ve tried several different Madeira cake recipes but the one I like best is this one by James Martin. You can make your own candied peel for the top, but I’m not keen on it, so I serve the cake as is. Enjoy!

  15. Cake looks great... your grandchildren are adorable ,hope you will have a great time with them. Thank you so much Barbara for such a wonderful post :)

    1. Hello Aunt Mary, the cake was good if I do say so myself! Only three weeks until the family arrive. We are longing to see them.

  16. Dear Barbara, your fruit cake looks delicious and very easy to make. I will try it however I shall have to miss out the milk as hubby is allergic to dairy products. It should be ok I think not to use milk but add some almond milk or something. (Not brandy :-))
    The last recipe never ceases to give me a laugh.
    I can imagine excitement is building up at your neck of the woods. I am sure you and your family will have a fabulous Christmas. Your grand kids look adorable and you must be eagerly looking forward to seeing them all. Not long to go have a wonderful wonderful time with them

    1. Hello Shashi, I would think Almond milk would be good, although Brandy might be better!! 
      Willie is hysterical; I don’t know where he finds them from, but I couldn't miss the chance to share his ‘recipe’.
      Only three more weeks to wait, and then we have six whole weeks to enjoy being together. Christmas and the New Year are going to be very special this year. Thank you for your good wishes. xx

  17. I hope you all have a great time!

    I can't eat proper cake, but my boyfriend would love that (he's big on cake!). Mum always makes a boozy Christmas cake (depending what's to hand, it's been Guinness, brandy, sherry or port the last few years).

    1. Hi Nikki-ann
      I’m big on cake too so I feel sad for you. I’m going to add a drop of brandy to the Christmas cake – which reminds me I need to get on and make it.

      Thanks for your good wishes.

  18. Well,Barbara,this is just the loveliest blog,and I am so very glad I met you when I did!
    The girls look too gorgeous to be real,and it seems that they should be in a magazine
    shoot!! How very special for you to soon be sharing REAL hugs and smiles, and bedtime stories too!!
    As for your recipe,much as I love it,I adore,simply ADORE the Bonzo Plate!!I have several of his delightful old annuals which always make me smile from ear to ear.
    And your wonderful friend Willie MUST be related to a very dear and hilarious friend of mine,as she had shared this same Brandy Cake recipe with me years back,and I still have it in the front of my family recipe book! Aaaah!!! Life IS good!!!!(and the Brandy was too!!! from memory,that is!!!)
    It is so terribly hot here in Nth Qld(Oz),and I envy you having a cool and pleasant Christmas with the family there to enjoy it with you.They too should appreciate the cooler weather,from what my own experiences of Adelaide summers are!! Make certain that you and Terry forget about everything except the great times to be had while your beautiful family members are with you. These are very special times,and I know that many warm and precious memories are about to be made and added to the existing ones you all share.
    And always remember that Real Friendship is a timeless and incomparable gift. Thank you for this one which we share!

    1. Hi Julie, we found the Bonzo plate when Steven was a little boy, he is 42 now (sorry to share your age with the world Steve!) and we’ve still not found another. I’m sure they are available on eBay, but I like to find things at flea markets or car boots – I’m stubborn like that!
      I will tell the girls they should be in a magazine, I’m sure it will make them laugh, and it will make their mummy and daddy very proud.
      Willie is just lovely he makes me laugh all the time – I wonder if he has a brother in Australia???
      Thank you so much for your friendship Julie it means a lot. xxx

  19. I am not a big fan of fruit cake, but I love the photos of your granddaughters. They are such beauties!! I can't believe how grown up they look now.

    1. We can’t believe it either! Karen sent a photo of Zoe in her new school uniform yesterday. She looks so completely different than she did the last time we saw her. We are really looking forward to chatting with her and her little sister. They talk to us on the phone and always make us laugh but being in the same room is going to be wonderful.

  20. Your granddaughters look adorable! So happy they will be coming for a much needed visit. I know you all will have such fun,

    Can you believe I have never tried fruit cake. I am glad you have a good recipe to use and a trial run seems like a good idea to me. Loved the last recipe- as I can relate to it considering all the problems I have in the kitchen.

    1. Hi Stephanie, I can also relate to those kitchen problems – for every successful cake, there are always two more unsuccessful ones, but I’m having fun trying. Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

  21. Hi Barbara, It's been awhile since I've visited and first must say how sweet those kids are! Adorable! Next love fruit cake and will need to give your recipe a try! Also I thought that dog in the plate was familiar and it is Bonzo as I thought. I have a set of Salt and Pepper Shakers in my shop, all I knew was they were Bonzo, but never heard of them here in the States. So I assume they were from a UK cartoon?? Have a wonderful trip friend, please stay safe! ~ Diane

    1. Hi Diane, I’ve not been over to see you for a while either the days are just rushing past. I will pop along and say hello in a while.
      The cake is really easy and tasty too.
      Bonzo was created by G. E. Studdy back in the early 1920s he first appeared in magazines and weekly papers and later postcards/china etc., there is a really good website devoted to all things Bonzo at
      Thank you for your good wishes - scary times at the moment. Barbara x

  22. Hi Barbara, I was just having a very brief look through your blog as I'm off out again shortly - I suppose you're the same. I've not posted myself for a while although I did threaten it last week.

    I adore your recipe and am going to have a go myself, have lots of eggs and fruit and well, promised my neighbour a cake.

    I've had a flick through the post later than this and saw those lovely little folk and no time to read properly so I promise I will take a proper look this evening.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx