Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing day

One of the very first things Christina, my physio, got me to do when I recently attend the neuro-physiotherapy department was to do some boxing.

Not only does it tone up muscles but it’s great for the cardiovascular system as it gets your heart pumping which helps towards loosing weight.

I took to boxing like a duck takes to water. I love it !!!!!!!

Scott my personal trainer at the gym has incorporated boxing into my exercise programme so he’s been teaching me different boxing techniques.

I’m the first to admit I hate exercising. However boxing doesn’t feel like exercising. Two of my favourite games on the wii are the boxing and the sword fighting. I must learn to do some warm up games first though as my muscles ache for days after having a good fighting session...

Santa brought the wii boxing to life as one of my presents was a boxing set comprising of jab pads, a pair of boxing gloves and a three foot punch bag.

Yesterday John set up ‘Mr Punch’ (my punch bag) so I can start punching the living day lights out of our ‘boxing list’. Whenever I’ve been boxing at either the physio or the gym I was told to think about someone I hate and imagine I’m hitting them.

To be included in the ‘boxing list’ hall of fame the person has had to actually done something to cause us grief. For example top of the list is Gordon Brown MP. If it hadn’t been for him making private pensions completely worthless John would have been able to retire from work two years ago.

So instead of imagining hitting someone, I’ve printed off photo’s of those in the ‘boxing list’ so they will be put on Mr Punch and I can hit them for real.

Time to give Gordon Brown a good thrashing !!!!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recipe of the week – Pasta bake

This is quick and easy supper dish. The crisps give it a lovely crunchy topping. You can of course make it without the crisps if you are counting the calories.

Serves 2

4oz Penne pasta

3 rashers of bacon (any kind will do), de-rined

½ pint of cheese sauce

2 packets of salted crisps, squashed into bits

Half a teaspoon of dried or fresh herbs (any kind will do as long as it’s not overpowering)

Black pepper (to taste)

Cook the pasta in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile grill the bacon then cut into small pieces. Don’t switch the grill off.

Add the bacon, herbs and black pepper into the cheese sauce.

Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the cheese sauce.

Pour the pasta mix into warmed individual ovenproof dishes then top with the crisps.

Grill under a medium heat until the crisps are golden brown.

Alternative toppings

Sliced tomatoes: arrange over the top of the pasta and grill until tomatoes are hot.

Breadcrumbs: take 1oz of breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Grill until golden brown.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Seeing double

Further to my last blog guess what turned up on Wednesday – my cards from the former US Presidents….

Then what should arrive in the post on Thursday but yet another set of cards !!!!

As this is our last blog before the big day John and myself wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


PS the ‘recipe of the week’ will return on Boxing day (or December 26th for those reading this who are not from the UK).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No show cards

Whenever Morrison’s haven’t had any greeting cards which I like (which is most of the time) I’ve had them specially printed by one of the on-line card companies – you’ll have seen them advertised on TV.

Given the cost of cards in places like Morrisons or WHSmiths, the cost of ordering a card from one of these companies is about the same. Plus you can make them personal, which is what I like.

Having checked Morrison’s for Christmas cards – as usual nothing – both John and myself ordered cards on Sunday 4th December. John from one company and mine from a company who’s name is a former US President.

John’s arrived on Tuesday 6th, but mine didn’t. No worries I thought as it’s the time of year when the post is going to be delayed.

After the post had come on Wednesday 7th I gave them a ring. They were sent out yesterday, said the little woman. The good old ‘it was sent out yesterday’... Which really meant ‘we’ve done nothing so better get it sorted today’. I was assured they would be here Thursday or Friday at the latest.

Friday’s post came and went and no cards. Time for the Customer from Hell. I always give then one chance to put things right then out she comes.

“They were sent out yesterday”, said the little woman.

“If it was sent out ‘yesterday’ how come I was told that on Wednesday”, I replied.

She thought for a while. “It looks like there’s been a computer problem”.

Another saying from the book of excuses….

“I’ll get they re-printed today and you should get them on Monday”.

“Are you sure”, I quizzed.

“Yes. You will have them on Monday”.

Monday’s post came and went and still no cards.

The Customer from Hell was beginning to get more than a little annoyed.

“They have been dispatched”, snapped the little woman, “however you rang after our next day cut-off time so they will be here tomorrow”.

“They better”, I said, “otherwise I will not be happy if I have to ring you again”.

Just to make sure I actually had some cards to give I went on to another card site and ordered some more cards. If the former US President’s came then I’d put one lot away for next year.

Tuesday’s post came and you guessed it, no cards. I decided to give them one more day just on the very slim chance that they had been delayed by the Christmas post.

Wednesday’s post came and went. Yep, no cards.

“‘Former US President. Can I help”, said the little woman.

“Can I speak to your manager please as I have a lot of shouting to do and you’re not paid enough to be shouted at”.

“Can I help”, said the ‘manager’ (I’ve no evidence it was one as she never said who she was. It could have been the cleaner for all I know…..)

I explained what had happened and told her in no uncertain terms that I was not a happy bunny.

“I can understand why you are not happy Madam”, she said, “however the cards were sent out ‘yesterday’”.

“Yesterday”, I repeated, “I’ve had enough. I want a refund”.

“Certainly Madam. I will arrange that now for you”, she said quickly, which makes me suspect that I wasn’t the first to complain, “on Thursday you’ll also receive your cards, which you can have free of charge from us”.

Thursday came and went, so did Friday, Saturday, Monday and today. Still no cards….

Whilst all this is both amusing and annoying, what would have happened if I had asked for cards to be sent straight to the recipients. I would have had no way of knowing they had not being delivered.

Naughty !!!!!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recipe of the week – Jam sponge, with a twist

A wonderful, light, yet simple cake that is so delicious.

Here’s where the twist is. Instead of the usual two egg, 4oz mix of flour, butter and sugar that is traditional for a sandwich cake, this recipe is slightly different. The eggs, still in their shells, are weighed and whatever it says on the scales, you weigh out that amount of flour, butter and sugar.

For example, the two eggs – still in their shells – weigh 4 and ¾ oz’s. Measure out 4 and ¾ oz’s of self-raising flour, caster sugar and butter/margarine. No matter what the eggs weigh, always use the same weight for the flour, sugar and butter.

  • Two eggs
  • Self-raising flour
  • Caster sugar
  • Butter/margarine
  • 1 level tea-spoon of baking powder
  • Jam (strawberry, raspberry, any kind you like)
  • Icing sugar

Line two 7 inch/18cm round cake tin with baking parchment or non-stick liners (Lakeland sell them and they’re brilliant).

Pre-heat oven to 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc

Weigh the eggs, still in their shells. Whatever the eggs weigh, that’s the amount you’ll need for the flour, sugar and butter/margarine.

Put the sugar and butter/margarine into a bowl. Sift the flour along with the baking power into a bowl, then add the two eggs.

Beat well until everything is combined and mixture is smooth, to the point that it will drop off your spoon.

Pour the mixture into the cake tins, trying to get the same amount in each tin (I weigh them to make sure). Make a slight well in the centre of each cake. This will stop the centre from rising too much.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Try not to open the oven door during the cooking as this can stop the cakes from rising. If you think that they make be browning too much, only open the door when you are past half way in the cooking time.

To check to see if the cakes are cook, gently press the surface of the cake with a finger. If it springs back it’s cooked. You can also test it by using a skewer (or knitting needle or a piece of spaghetti). Piece the centre of the cake. If it come out clean then it’s done.

Once the cakes are cool, spread the jam over one of the cakes. You can use as much or as little as you like. Try not to get the jam too close to the edge as it will spread naturally to the edge when the other one is put on top of it.

Take the other cake and carefully put it on top off the jam layer. Finally sift the icing sugar over the top of the cake.

This cake can easily be made bigger. If you wish to use three eggs then simply weigh them as before.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Monday, December 12, 2011

Recipe of the week – Common spice cake

Apologies for being a bit late putting up the recipe of the week, only we spent the weekend putting up the Christmas decorations.

Anyway, here’s a lovely crumbly cake which is delicious eaten when warm. It makes a great alternative the traditional Christmas cake.

  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon of ground mix spice
  • 3oz margarine or butter
  • 4oz soft brown sugar
  • 4oz raisins
  • 4oz sultanas
  • 2oz mixed peel, chopped
  • 2oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ pint of milk

Pre-heat oven to 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc

Line a 7 inch/18cm round cake tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour and mix spice together into a bowl. Rub in the margarine or butter.

Add the sugar, raisins, sultanas, mix peel and cherries to the bowl.

Next add the beaten egg and enough of the milk so that the mixture drops from a wooden spoon when shaken.

Pour into the tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave it in the tin for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Recipe of the week – One cup malt loaf

No complicated measuring required to make this. All you need is a cup or a mug. Just make sure you use the same one throughout.

A cup or mug of the following:

  • All Bran (or supermarket’s equivalent. Please don’t use bran flakes as the texture isn’t the same.)
  • Milk
  • Caster sugar (use slightly less than a cupful if you want to make it less sweet)
  • Sultanas or raisins
  • Self-raising flour – sifted

Oven: 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc

Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment or non-stick liner (Lakeland sell them and they’re brilliant).

Start the day before you intend to make the loaf.

Put all the ingredients except the flour into a bowl and mix well. Cover with a tea-towel and leave overnight.

Stir in the flour, making sure you scrape the sides of the bowls thoroughly, and pour the batter into the loaf tin.

Bake for 1 ½ hours.

Please soak the bowl as soon as you’ve finished with it as the mix sets like concrete if left !!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recipe of the week – Honey and lemon chicken drumsticks

These drumsticks are lovely and lemony and so easy to do. They are great for party food as the quantities can easily be doubled, tripled or to however many you need.

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • Seasoned plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • Grated rind and juice of 3 large lemons
  • Oil for frying

Pre-heat oven to 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc.

Toss the chicken onto a plate of seasoned flour then shake off any excess flour. Fry the pieces until well browned on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes.

Lay the chicken singularly into a roasting tin, drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the lemon rind. Pour the lemon juice into the tin and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recipe of the week – Sticky chicken drumsticks

Wonderfully sticky, yummy and great party food as the servings can be easily doubled, tripled. Plus they’re so easy to make…

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree

Heat oven to 200º c/Gas Mk 6. Fan oven 180ºc.

Make three slashes in each of the drumsticks. Put the soy sauce, honey and puree into a large sealable freezer bag and squish the freezer bag to mix everything together.

Put the drumsticks inside the bag and thoroughly squish them around the mix.

Leave to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

If the chicken has been in the fridge marinating, remove it from the fridge half an hour before you intend to cook it, to allow it to get to room temperature.

Put the chicken into a roasting tin and cook for 35 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is wonderfully sticky and cooked through.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Recipe of the week – Chilled lemon tart

A beautifully creamy tart that is so easy to make.

  • 3oz margarine or butter
  • 8oz crushed digestive or ginger biscuits
  • ½ pint of double cream
  • Large tin of condensed milk (218g)
  • Grated rind and juice of 3 large lemons

Serves 6 – 8

Melt the margarine/butter in a pan or microwave then stir in the crushed biscuits.

Press the biscuit mix into the base of a 8inch/20cm loose-bottomed tin. Chill for ½ hour.

If you don’t have a loose-bottomed tin, line the tin with baking parchment, allowing an overlap over the side of the tin so you can pull the tart out when it’s set.

Whisk the condensed milk and cream with the juice and rind of the lemons until thick. If you have an electric whisk it will only take a couple of minutes.

Spoon over the biscuit base. Chill until required.

This tart recipe is so versatile:

Instead of one big tart simply spoon the biscuit mix into six or eight individual glass dishes then top with the lemon mix.

You can also make a chilled lime tart by replacing the lemons with four limes.

How about a chocolate lime tart. Mix 1 oz of coco powder to the crushed digestive biscuits then decorate the top of the tart with grated chocolate.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At This Time Of Year

We're not so old in the Army List,
But we're not so young at our trade.
For we had the honour at Fontenoy
Of meeting the Guards' Brigade.
'Twas Lally, Dillon, Bulkeley, Clare,
And Lee that led us then,
And after a hundred and seventy years
We're fighting for France again!

From The Irish Guards by Rudyard Kipling

Coalition is the way of things in modern conflicts. It’s been 29 years since Britain fought a war alone, and more than a century to the one before that.

But fighting a war as part of a coalition can throw up some strange alliances. People traditionally thought of as “the enemy” can suddenly become allies and vice versa. Britain’s traditional enemy was always France, and yet in the two great wars of the 20th Century France was our ally. Similarly we generally regarded Germany as an ally and yet …

For example :

The author JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings etc.) served as an officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1916 and with his language skills he was often called on to question prisoners. He told of a conversation with a German soldier from the Hanoverian Regiment. The soldier pointed out the irony of how at the battle of Minden on 1759 his Hanoverians fought shoulder to shoulder with Tolkien’s Lancashires against the French.

And lets not forget that while British losses between 1914 and 1918 were 704,803 some of our allies (and enemies) losses were beyond comprehension.

Russia 1,811,000

France 1,397,800

Italy 651,000

Serbia 275,000

British Empire 251,900

Romania 250,000

USA 126,000

Belgium 58,637

Greece 26,000

Portugal 7,222

Japan 415

And from the Central Powers

Germany 2,050,697

Austria 1,100,000

Turkey 771,844

Bulgaria 87,500

I was reminded of this many years ago when I came across this war memorial in Venice. It commemorates the Italian soldiers who lost their lives fighting against the Austrians and Germans between 1915 and 1918. Note that Italy (and Japan too) fought with us in that conflict.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Recipe of the week - Sticky sausages

These are incredibly sticky and moreish. One is simply not enough….

Serves 10 – 12 people

  • 2lb cocktail sausages – frozen ones are ideal
  • 3 tablespoons of runny honey
  • 5 tablespoons of hoisin sauce

Pre-heat oven to 200º c/Gas Mk 6. Fan oven 180ºc.

Combine everything into a bowl or large sealable freezer bag and leave to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.

Remove the marinated sausages from the fridge half an hour before you intend to cook it to allow it to get to room temperature.

Put the sausages onto a roasting tin which has been lined with foil (or use a disposable foil roasting tin) and cook for 35 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool slightly before you try to eat them as they will be very hot !!!!

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe of the week – cheese sauce and garlic bread

I mentioned in last week ‘recipe of the week – lasagne’ that I had a short cut for cheese sauce. Here it is…

There’s a wonderful product on the market called ‘sauce flour’ which makes perfect cheese sauce every time. It’s made by a company called ‘Carr’s’ or Sainsbury’s do their own brand.

To make cheese sauce all you do is add one heaped tablespoon of the sauce flour and 1oz of cheese, chopped into small pieces or grated, to a pan with ½ pint of milk.

Whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for three minutes.

You can also make the sauce in the microwave. Measure out the milk into a microwavable jug then add the flour and cheese.

Cook on High, whisking every 30 seconds, until you get the consistency you require. It should take about 2 ½ - 3 minutes.

Garlic Bread

A really quick and easy way to make garlic bread

Serves 2

  • 1 part baked baguette
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 dessertspoon of low fat spread
  • ½ teaspoon of dried herbs (mix herbs are ideal)

Cook the baguettes as per their instructions. Allow to cool.

Pre-heat the grill to high.

Half the baguette then cut each piece horizontally.

In a small bowl add the low fat spread, garlic and the dried herbs. Mix well.

Spread the garlic ‘butter’ over the four baguette pieces.

Place under the grill until the garlic ‘butter’ has melted and the baguette is golden brown.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It’s gym Jim but not as we know it

This morning I did something which I never thought I’d ever do – I joined a gym !!!!!

A couple of months ago when I went to see my GP I explained that I was having problems with my weight. Because I’m not moving around as much I’m not burning off calories, so the excess weight was giving me a rather large spare tyre…..

“I know just the thing”, said Dr Blake, “I’ll arrange some neuo-physio for you and I’ll refer you onto the Sunderland Exercise Referral Programme”.

Twice a week I attend a hourly neuo-physio session with Christina at the Royal Hospital (full details will appear in the Joint Journal in the coming weeks) where she gives my abs, my cardio-vascular system and everything from the waist up a good workout.

The Referral Programme consists of fifteen weeks – with a personal trainer at a gym….

This morning ‘Scott’ my personal trainer handed me my gym membership card (again full details will appear in the Joint Journal in the coming weeks).

I can’t believe it – me a member of a gym !!!!!!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daylight robbery

I got an email from our energy supplier E-off (name changed to protect the guilty !!) to say our latest bill was ready to view online.

I did and we were £176 in credit.

A couple of days later I received a letter from E-off to say that they had reviewed our monthly direct debit payments and were going to put our payment up from £76 a month to £106 a month.

I appreciate that energy companies have put up their prices recently, however wanting an extra £30 a month is not on. So I gave them a ring.

“I’m sorry Mrs Harper but the payment increase is not negotiable”, said the snotty little man.

“That’s never been the case in the past”, I replied.

He typed away on his computer, “I can reduce it down a little by £2 extra a month so you would be paying £104 instead”.

“There’s no way I’m paying that”, I said defiantly.

“You could do try and do something to reduce your energy consumption”, he said, patronisingly, “get a new boiler”.

“Got one”.

“Loft insulation”.

“Got it”.

“Turn down your boiler thermostat”.

“We have”.

“Get cavity walls fitted”.

“We can’t. There’s rubble between the bricks”.

“I’m afraid you’ve just lost yourself a customer”, I said, “if you insist that I have to pay an extra £30 a month then you leave me no choice but to change energy suppliers”.

No doubt he’ll have heard this all before, however I’m a person who does not do idle threats. I actually carry them out.

Half an hour later and we have saved £170 a year by switching to Scottish Power….

Later that day I got a telephone call. It was E-off.

“I understand Mrs Harper that you are switching energy suppliers to Scottish Power. Is that correct”.

“It is”.

“Could you tell me why you are doing so”.

I told him. He then started blabbering on about how competitive E-off were compared to Scottish Power.

"If that's the case how come I can save £170 by switching to them. I'm sorry but you have lost a customer. Please excuse me as I'm in the middle of eating my dinner. Good bye...."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recipe of the week - Lasagne

An extremely quick and simple way to make great lasagne. I love it served in individual dishes but you can make it in one big one then divide it out.

Serves 2

  • 6oz of mince, preferably lean
  • ½ pint of cheese sauce
  • Dolmio Bolognaise sauce (320g jar)
  • 6 sheets of lasagne
  • Black pepper

Pre-heat oven: 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc

Dry fry the mince in a frying pan until brown.

Put the bolognaise sauce into a bowl. Add a little water to the jar, give it a good shake, then pour the juice into the bowl.

Remove the mince from the pan using a slotted spoon to drain away any excess fat then mix it into the bolognaise sauce.

Make the cheese sauce and add black pepper to taste.

Spread a little of the bolognaise sauce in the base of either two ovenproof dishes or one large ovenproof dish. Top with one sheet of lasagne if using individual dishes or two sheets if using one dish. Do this twice more.

Pour the cheese sauce over the lasagne, making sure that it’s all covered with the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

It's delicious served with garlic bread.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipe of the week – Chicken curry

This is a lovely thick curry which isn’t too spicy. If you prefer it hotter simply add more paste. If you’re not a garlic lover, please don’t leave it out as the curry is very bland without it. Just add one clove instead. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Curry

Serves 2

  • 6oz of chicken cut into bit sized pieces (you can use more chicken if you like)
  • 1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, grated or pressed through a garlic press
  • Two teaspoons of oil
  • 1 pint of hot chicken stock (from a stock cube is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of curry paste (Pataks Balti is perfect)

Add the oil to a frying pan and cook the chicken pieces on a medium/high heat for about 15 - 20 minutes until they’re browned and thoroughly cooked inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and put to one side.

Add the chopped pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook on a medium high heat for approx five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the plain flour and the curry paste and mix well. Add the hot stock and again mix well. Finally add the chicken back to the pan and give it a good mix.

Cook on a medium high heat for approx 20 - 25 minutes until the curry is thick.

Serve with rice.

The curry can also be made in a slow cooker

Add the chicken pieces, pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic into a frying pan with the oil and cook on high for five minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Add the plain flour and curry paste and mix well. Finally add the chicken stock. As a slow cooker will not boil away the liquid, you will only need ¼ pint of stock.

Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on Low for 8 hours. The curry will not be as thick as one done on the top of the oven so don’t panic if it’s slightly runny….

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Starting tomorrow…

…will be further adventures from the ‘Joint Journals’.

Simply click on the link at the right of the page.

Don’t miss it…..


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Recipe of the week - Boozy Christmas cake

I’ve been meaning to put up on the blog my various recipes, however, I just never seemed to got round to doing it.

So I thought I’d give them to you as a ‘recipe of the week’ slot on the blog. All the recipes featured are mine, and haven’t simply been lifted from a cookery book.

Seeing as it’s getting close to the time when you should start to be making your Christmas cake, here’s my recipe for a really moist, boozy fruit cake.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

7inch/ 18cm round tin or 6inch/ 16cm square tin

  • 7oz Currants
  • 4oz Sultanas
  • 2oz Raisins
  • 2oz Glace Cherries – chopped
  • 2oz Mixed Peel
  • 2oz Mixed Chopped Nuts
  • 2 tablespoon Brandy/ Rum or any spirit
  • 5oz Plain Flour – sieved
  • 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 1oz Ground Almonds
  • 4oz Soft Brown Sugar
  • 4oz Butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon Black Treacle
  • 3 Eggs

9inch/ 22cm round tin or 8inch/ 20cm square tin

  • 13oz Currants
  • 7oz Sultanas
  • 3 ½oz Raisins
  • 3 ½oz Glace Cherries – chopped
  • 3 ½oz Mixed Peel
  • 3 ½oz Mixed Chopped Nuts
  • 3 tablespoon Brandy/ Rum or any spirit
  • 9oz Plain Flour – sieved
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 2oz Ground Almonds
  • 8oz Soft Brown Sugar
  • 8oz Butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon Black Treacle
  • 5 Eggs

Put all fruit in a bowl, coat with the alcohol and leave overnight.

Preheat oven to 140º c/ Gas Mk 1. Fan oven 130º c.

Line the tin with two sheets of baking parchment. You could use greaseproof paper, however you must grease it with butter.

Add all the ingredients except for the fruit into a bowl. Mix well. Add half of the fruit to the bowl, mix, then add the rest of the fruit and mix again.

Scrape the mixture into the tin, making a slight well in the centre of the cake - this will stop the centre from rising. Take hold of the tin and tap it a couple of times onto a hard surface. This gets rid of any air bubbles.

Cover the top and sides of the tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper or brown paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for two ½ hours for cake tin sizes 6 and 7 inch and three hours for cake tin sizes 8 and 9 inch.

To check whether the cake is done place a skewer (a knitting needle or piece of spaghetti are ideal) in the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked. If it’s not, return to the oven for another 30 minutes and check again.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. When cool pierce the top of the cake all over with a skewer (a cocktail stick is perfect). Drizzle two or three tablespoons of the alcohol you used in the mixture over the cake. Wrap the cake well in a double layer of greaseproof paper then a double layer of tinfoil.

Leave the cake for one week. Unwrap it, turn the cake over, then skewer and ‘feed’ the cake again. Repeat the ‘feeding’ process until one week before Christmas.

If decorating the cake cover with marzipan (brush warm apricot jam over the cake before applying the marzipan). Leave the marzipan to dry for a day or two. Ice the cake either with ready-to-roll icing or royal icing.

Enjoy !!!