Cake of the Month: Raspberry Butterscotch

I’m always impressed when people can decide on favourites. Favourite album, favorite film and so on. In a world so full of amazing stuff, how do they do that? For example, if you asked me what my favourite book was; I could perhaps break it down by genre and time period, and give you a list from each one. But an overall best book ever? No chance.

Which of course, brings us to cake. Oh, yes it does. So many great cakes to choose from, how could you possibly choose one?

You may or may not know that I spend an inordinate amount of time on Twitter. You meet some interesting people, it’s not all crazy trolls. One of these interesting people suggested raspberry and butterscotch as a flavour combination. I wasn’t sure to begin with but it really worked. After a couple of ice-cream experiments it was time to try a cake, and oh boy! It must be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Definitely in the top five, at least…

While raspberries aren’t a very autumnal fruit, there are some in the shops still, and you could always use frozen berries.

Butterscotch is basically caramel made with brown instead of white sugar. If you feel confident making your own caramel then do, but remember it’s harder to tell when it’s ready because it’s brown already. You can make an educated guess, or use a sugar thermometer. Otherwise, buy a jar of butterscotch sauce.

Raspberry and Butterscotch Cake serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 180g soft butter
  • 120g brown sugar
  • 90g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 240g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • 140ml buttermilk
  • 100g raspberries

For the butterscotch sauce:

  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 30g butter
  • 150ml double cream
  • (Or a jar from the shop)

For the filling:

  • 1/2 jar of good quality raspberry jam
  • 90g butter
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp butterscotch sauce

Method:

Grease and line two round sandwich cake tins. Preheat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas mark 3

1. Beat together the butter, brown, and golden sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and mix well. Beat in the butter milk and raspberries, it doesn’t matter if the raspberries break into small pieces.

3. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for around 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then remove from the tins and finish cooling on a wire rack.

4. In the meantime, make the butterscotch sauce. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until dissolved.

5. Turn up the heat to medium. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT. Allow the butterscotch to come to the boil, and let it simmer for 2 minutes until it becomes caramel (it may take slightly more or less time than this, I’m afraid you’ll just have to use your judgement).

6. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the butter and cream. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

7. Make the buttercream. It’s easiest to do this with an electric whisk or small hand blender, if you have one. Sieve the icing sugar to remove lumps. Add the butter and butterscotch sauce and blend till smooth.

8. Assemble the cake. Spread the top of one of the cakes with raspberry jam. Spread the underside of the other cake with the buttercream, and sandwich them together.

9. Liberally spread the top of the cake with butterscotch sauce.

10. Enjoy!

Real Brownies!

So like I said, in recent months I’ve seen all manner of “healthy” brownies parading virtuously around Internet Land. Gluten free, sugar free, grain free, made with beetroot, beans, courgettes, mayonnaise, mashed avocado, mashed banana, and my personal least favourite – cauliflower (that person was quickly unfollowed on pinterest). Would you eat them? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments section.

BROWNIES AREN’T MEANT TO BE HEALTHY!

Now I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time to revisit this recipe for wonderfully naughty peanut butter brownies, that were cake of the month way back in 2015. They were based on a ‘Peanut Butter Brownie Bomb’ that I was fortunate enough to try at the Chocolate Festival in Oxford one year.

If you already have a favourite brownie recipe, use that. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with this recipe based on the one found in The Hummingbird Bakery book.

Basic Brownies

With this recipe as a starting point you can make any flavour that takes your fancy.

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 175g butter
  • 325g golden caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 eggs (any size)

Preheat the oven to 170°c/gas mark 3. Grease and line a rectangular traybake tin.

Break the chocolate into chunks and put in a saucepan/heatproof bowl with the butter. If you use a medium to large saucepan/bowl you can do all the mixing in it and save on washing up. Place over a pan of simmering water and stir gently till melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Sift in the flour and mix well. Beat in the eggs.

Pour into the prepared tin [Add extra ingredients at this point; for peanut butter brownies take half a jar of crunchy peanut butter and sweeten to taste with icing sugar. Dot the brownie mixture with the peanut butter] bake for around 30 mins. It should be glazed and flaky looking on top but still a little soft in the middle but a little over cooking won’t hurt it. Leave to cool in the tin, on top of a wire rack.

Makes 12 to 18 squares

PB brownies are particularly good if topped with milk chocolate. Melt 200g of a good quality milk chocolate and spread over the cooled brownie slab. leave to set then cut into squares or cut into small squares and completely coat each square in chocolate (you can thank me later).

Just Peachy!

Crumb towers is now home to two adorable pains in the bum, called Peach and Muffin. They prevent any work being done by being cute and fuzzy, destructive, pooping in corners and sitting on the keyboard. It may be half way through August, but I honestly didn’t forget about cake and icecream of the month, I just never got round to posting anything!

Ice cream of the month was refreshingly tangy Gooseberry and Clotted cream. Follow the usual recipe, subsituting clotted for double cream. Gently cook 150g of gooseberries until soft, push through a sieve and add 6 heaped tbsp of sugar. Add to the custard and freeze as usual.

Of course, cake of the month had to be Peach Muffins (see what I did there?)

peach muffinA fluffy muffin, studded with chunks of fresh peach and drizzled with a peach schnapps glace icing. You want the peach to be on the firm side, if it’s too ripe it will just taste insipid when baked. Tinned peaches are also fine.

Peach Muffins

  • 10oz (300g) plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 8 floz (240ml) milk
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 3floz (90ml) vegetable oil
  • a couple of peaches, skinned and chopped or 5 oz (150g) tinned peaches, drained and chopped

Makes 8 – 12

Prepare the muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 190°c (170 fan, 375°F, gas mark 4)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the sugar.

In another bowl, beat together the oil, egg and milk. Stir in the almond essence and peach chunks.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Stir (don’t beat) until only just combined. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for about 20 mins. They should be golden brown on top.

If you want to make a glaze, mix 6 tbsp of icing sugar with peach schnapps or peach juice to make a runny icing. Spread about 1 tsp over the top of each muffin while still warm.

Peaches were first cultivated in China and spread to Europe via Persia.

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COTM: Coffee Cream

“if a stranger offers you sweets, hold out for the coffee creams”

Does anyone remember this quote? Or indeed the Biederbecke Affair, a very English comedy from the eighties? You can rent or buy from Amazon.co.uk, I believe.

Coffee creams *sigh* Why are they so hard to get these days? Thornton’s used to do really nice ones, they were discontinued, then replaced by some kind of truffley thing which the lady in the shop assured me were exactly the same, They weren’t, I nearly cried!

My coffee cream cake however, is everything it promises to be. A light cream flavoured sponge, sandwiched with a coffee flavoured filling, crunchy meringue and drizzled with coffee glace icing.

coffee cream slice

I used a jar of coffee flavored spread that we picked up at the Ludlow food festival. If you can’t find anything similar, just use buttercream flavoured with strong coffee or coffee essence.

coffee spreadCoffee Cream Cake

for the cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • a tub of clotted cream (around 225g usually)
  • 200g self raising flour
  • a small jar of coffee flavoured spread or some coffee buttercream

Pre-heat the oven to 170°c/150 fan. Grease and line two sandwich cake tins.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and mousse like. Stir the cream until it becomes runny.

Add the cream and salt to the eggs and whisk until only just combined.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon until just combined. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 5oz (150g) caster sugar

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar a little at a time, whisking after each addition.

Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper (not greaseproof which is different) and divide the meringue between them, swirling it out with the back of a spoon to form a round roughly the size of your cake tin.

Bake at a low heat until crisp and very lightly coloured. Leaving them to cool in the oven until completely cold will help them to dry out a bit more.

 

When everything is cool, sandwich the cakes together with the coffee filling of your choice, reserving about 4 tbsp. Put 1 meringue round in the middle of the cake, and the other one on top, using the remaining coffee filling to stick it down.

Make some glace icing using 3oz (90g) of sifted icing sugar, with 1tsp of strong coffee and enough extra water (be careful!) to make a smooth but not too runny icing. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Use a very sharp knife to cut the cake, a serrated one will just crumble it to bits.

Enjoy!

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COTM: Rhubarb and Custard

Not long ago rhubarb had a bad reputation. People remembered the school dinner/hospital canteen stringy, sour, sickly green goop; undersweetened, overcooked and probably from a tin. Maybe with a helping of lumpy custard.

These day’s rhubarb is super trendy, gracing the pages of every foodie magazine and cookbook out there, in pretty shades of pink. I’m guessing they only use the best forced rhubarb ‘cos I have never managed to get it that colour. Sickly green every time!

If you’re into growing fruit and veg it’s about the easiest thing to grow, it’s not fussy over situation or soil and I haven’t met the bug brave enough to try and eat it. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, a component of bleach! Eating large amounts can aggravate Kidney stones, gout and rheumatoid arthritis and is responsible the the pungently acidic taste. You may have a parent or grandparent who will tell you how they used to dip the end of a raw rhubarb stick in a bowl of sugar and eat it. Do not try this! Raw rhubarb has certain side effects on the digestive system, it’s a purgative, that means something that causes mega poopies.

I like rhubarb.

Cake of the month for May is an attempt to capture the flavours of a rhubarb crumble served with lashings of Bird’s custard, a childhood (and adulthood) favourite.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

For the rhubarb:

Peel two medium stalks of rhubarb and cut into 5cm lengths. Put in a baking tray or casserole dish and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of sugar. Bake in a medium hot oven until soft (around 15 mins). Leave to cool.

just rhubarb

For the custard:

  • ½ pint (280ml) milk
  • 4 tbsp of custard powder (not instant!) I used Bird’s
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

Mix the custard powder and sugar with a little of the milk to make a paste. Heat the milk to boiling point. Pour the milk over the custard paste and mix well.

Pour it all back into the saucepan and cook on a medium heat, stirring briskly until the custard is really thick, be careful it doesn’t burn.

Allow to cool for a few mins, then beat in the egg yolks. Cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming, and leave to cool completely.

For the crumble:

  • 5oz (150g) plain flour
  • 1.25oz (37g) butter
  • 1.25oz (37g) margarine
  • 2oz (60g) sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, rubbing the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Put to one side.

The is the only time you will ever see me advocating the use of margarine. I find an all butter crumble to be too rich and powdery. Margarine helps it to clump together and crisp up better, though you can use all butter if you like!

For the cake:

  • 7oz (210g) plain flour
  • 1oz custard powder
  • 1tsp each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • 6oz soft butter
  • 9oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

You did all the advance preparation didn’t you? Ok, now grease and line a 20cm round loose bottomed or springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 170°c/ 150º fan/ gas mark 3

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Sift together the flour, custard powder, baking powder and bicarb of soda. Add to the mixture in two goes. It will be quite stiff. Stir in the rhubarb and all the syrupy juices in the tray. Stir gently till combined.

Scrape half of the cake mixture into the cake tin. Spoon the custard on top. Gently spoon the rest of the mixture on top, don’t worry if its uneven! Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top.

rhubarb mix

Bake for around 40 mins to an hour. Once the cake has started to brown, cover it with a piece of baking paper to stop it from burning on top before the middle is cooked. Test with a skewer poked in the middle, when it comes out clean the cake is done.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Now, instead of making lovely layers, my cake mixture got a bit over excited in the oven leading to an interesting marbled effect:

rhubarb in tinNot what I had in mind! However, everyone agreed that it tasted really good, especially the custardy bits, so I leave the recipe as is, without trying to figure out what went wrong. Who knows, yours might turn out perfectly layered!

COTM: Sour Cream and Lime Carrot Cake

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

In general you can’t go wrong with carrot cake. In any café, when other cakes are looking a bit iffy, go for the carrot cake and you usually won’t be dissapointed. Usually that is. Last month we were browsing the Army Surplus store in a small town not far from us; they have a small 1940’s tea room which was utterly charming – home made cakes, my favourite period tea set and a table made from half a jeep! Sadly the carrot cake was soggy, heavy, underdone and kind of “meh” (of course, being British I didn’t like to say anything!) Mr Crumbs didn’t mind so much, but when your own carrot cake has been praised as “the best I’ve ever tasted” by more than one person it’s easy to be overly judgemental. I will go back, if only to admire the tea set, though next time I’ll be ordering something else!

There are plenty of recipes about, mostly simple, some stupidly fancy and complex, which is gilding the lily if you ask me. The beauty of carrot cake for me is it’s simplicity and wholesome taste, and it’s got vegetables in right? I’m sure they cancel out the sugar and fat!

My only grumble is being made with oil rather than butter, leftovers in the tin get soggier over time, if there are any leftovers…

So can carrot cake be improved on? Recently there were a few odds and ends left over from other recipies – namely sour cream and a few limes – it seemed like the right thing to do.

Tangy Sour Cream and Lime Carrot Cake

  • 6oz (180g) brown sugar
  • 3oz (90g) very soft butter
  • 3oz (90g) sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 4oz (120g) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 8oz (240g) grated carrots
  • 6oz (180g) wholemeal flour
  • 2oz (60g) rolled oats
  • 1 tsp each baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • zest of 2 limes and juice of 1
  • 1tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180ºc (160 fan/ gas mark 4). Grease and line a deep springform or loose bottomed cake tin.

Chop the nuts into smallish pieces. Grate the carrots.

Beat together the sugar, butter and sour cream. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the nuts, carrot, lime zest and juice.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, ginger, baking powder and soda. Stir in the oats (I whizz them briefly in a food processor to break them down a little, but it’s not absoloutely necessary)

Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Pour into the cake tin and bake for around 40mins to 1hr. Halfway through the cooking time cover the top with a square of baking parchment. This stops the top from burning before the middle is done. The cake is done when it is well risen, golden brown and a skewer piked in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for up to ten mins, them remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

You can use traditional or cream cheese icing if you like. I went for this glaze:

  • 3oz (90g) sifted icing sugar
  • 1tbsp soft butter
  • 1tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp of lime juice

Blend all the ingredients together and spread over the cake while it’s still piping hot.

Carrots have been used since the middle ages to add sweetness when sugar is scarce or expensive. Carrot cake as we know it probably evolved from carrot pudding which was popular in Victorian times and during the war.

Limes are ripe when yellow and slightly wrinkled.

COTM: Vintage Chocolate Peppermint

Chocolate and mint has to be one of the greatest flavour combinations of all time. Mint choc chip ice cream was always the first choice in the day’s of my youth, mint chocolate, especially fondant creams, always a favourite treat. So what could be nicer than this chocolate peppermint cake, made super moist with sour cream, with lashings of minty buttercream and topped with that staple of many a childhood – mint Poppets?

The recipe comes from Elizabeth Craig’s “Complete Family Cookery” published in 1957, from the sponge cakes section. Originally the recipe was a mixture of ounces and the dreaded cup measurement. The quantities may seem a little odd, but trust me – they work!

The book also recommends icing the cake with “seven minute frosting”. It tastes a bit like marshmallow fluff but is a total pain in the bum to make. The first time it was going really well untill I added the green colour, then it just went totally runny. The second time it broke my hand blender (you have to whisk for seven minutes, hence the name, my blender was not supposed to run for more than 5 mins without a rest) and went all crystallised and weird. I avoid it like the plague now, buttercream works well, is easier to manage and is less sickly!

Chocolate Peppermint Layer Cake

  • 7oz (210g) plain flour
  • 1oz (30g) cornflour
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2¾oz (80g) softened butter
  • 9oz (270g) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3oz (90g) dark chocolate
  • 120ml sour cream
  • 180ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Grease and line two cake tins. Pre heat the oven to 180°c (160 fan, gas mark 4)

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put to one side.

Beat together the butter, sugar and egg until fluffy. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cornflour salt and soda. Beat half of it into the chocolate mixture then stir in the sour cream. Add the rest of the flour gradually, alternating with the milk.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for around 25 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 mins then remove from the tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Peppermint Buttercream:

  • 3oz (90g) very soft butter
  • 6oz (180g) icing sugar
  • up to 2 tsp peppermint flavouring
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Green food colouring (optional)
  • mint chocolates such as Poppets or Matchmakers to decorate

Sift the icing sugar over the butter, add the milk. Beat till smooth.

Add a dash of food colouring and half of the mint essence. Mix together. Taste for mintyness. Very gradually add more colour and mint until you think it looks and tastes right. Be careful, some mint extracts can be very strong!

Divide the buttercream between the top and middle of the cake. Decorate the top with mint chocolates.

COTM: Simply Gluten Free

Buttered Crumbs has been gluten free for two weeks now, it’s not too bad so far, though I am missing my favourite snack foods.

Everybody needs a simple go-to recipe for a cake that can be whizzed up quickly for any occasion. For most of us it would be the humble pound cake or Victoria sponge, though I prefer my own version http://www.butteredcrumbs.co.uk/?p=190 So I’ve been doing some experimental baking with gluten free flour.

Nowaday’s most supermarkets will stock at least one gluten free flour mix. Typically made up of rice, maize, tapioca and potato flours. I followed my own recipe, substituting Dove’s Farm GF flour for regular wheat flour. It was easy to use, rose well, browned evenly and tasted nice. The problem with GF flours is a tendancy to be dry and gritty, the cake wasn’t dry but it did have an unusual texture and a lack of “bite”, just sort of disappearing in the mouth rather than giving you a good chewy mouthful! Mr Crumbs enjoyed it, myself and Small Boy felt it was fine but not amazing but Eldest Son who is very sensitive to food  texture wasn’t keen at all.

Trying again, I used a 50/50 mix of ground almonds and potato flour. The result was a lovely rich tasting cake with a satisfying texture, definitlely not a sponge cake, but equally simple to make. I filled it with whipped cream and raspberry jam and everyone was happy. A word of caution, the cake is very fragile while hot so let it cool down in the tin for 20 mins before trying to take it out (carefully!)

Simple Go-To Gluten Free Cake

  • 4oz (120g) ground almonds
  • 4oz (120g) potato flour (available from health food shops like Holland and Barret)
  • 1½ tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 6oz (180g) butter
  • 6oz (180g) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3floz (90ml) milk

Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Grease and line one large cake tin or two sandwich tins. Pre heat the oven to 170°c (150 fan/gas mark 3)

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract.

Sift together the potato flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Gradually beat into the mixture, alternating with the milk, until all the flour and milk is incorporated into the mixture.

Divide between the cake tins and bake for around 20 minutes or until a dark golden brown on top. The cakes are not spongy to the touch so you will have to use a skewer poked into the middle to see if they are cooked through. If you’re using one big tin, check after 20 mins and cover the top with baking paper if it’s getting too brown before the middle is done.

Cool in the tin for 20 mins then very carefully turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Fill and decorate as required.

COTM: Ladies and Lavender

So, the lemon marmalade and caraway cake didn’t quite work (see “A Proper Seed Cake”), why not just ditch the caraway? Also I used lemon and lavender marmalade so why not make it a lemon and lavender cake?

The cake was tested by the ladies at my craft group, it went down very well indeed, even with those not keen on lemon. Very moist, tangy, with just the right amount of aromatic lavender. Children however, might find this cake a bit too much.

You can get lavender sugar at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and www.cotswoldlavender.co.uk in the U.K, or you can make your own. Use lemon and lavender  marmalade if you can get it, otherwise use ordinary lemon marmalade. I used Mike’s Gourmet available from www.mikeshomemade.co.uk

Lemon and Lavender Marmalade Drizzle Cake

  • 7 oz self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 oz ground almonds
  • 5 oz soft butter
  • 2½ oz sugar
  • 2½ oz lavender sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp lemon marmalade
  • 2 floz milk

Grease and line a deep loose bottomed or springform cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 170°c (150 fan/ gas mark 3)

Beat the sugars and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest.

Sift over the flour, soda and ground almonds and beat well. Add the marmalade and milk and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 40 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. If the top is browning too much before the middle is done, cover with baking paper.

While the cake is baking, combine the juice of the lemon with 3.5 oz (105g) of lavender sugar in a small bowl. Sieve out about half of the lavender flowers and discard.

When the cake is done and while it is still hot, poke the top all over with a skewer. Pour the lemon and lavender syrup over the top, it should set to make a lovely crunchy crust. Cool on a wire rack.

Lavender oil is consider to have antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties, it’s relaxing odour can be useful in treating insomnia, depression and headaches. Try a few drops in a hot bath!

 

 

Cake of the month: To the Manor Born

Once upon a time, before the bitter cynicism of adulthood took hold, Buttered Crumbs was a small and adorable child. Papa worked for well known pre packed cake producer Mr Kipling; one of the perks of the job was the monthly complementary box of cakes – a large cardboard box filled with a selection of goodies. As the years went by the box shrunk by degrees until it was small indeed. I’m not sure the employee’s even get one now.

Anyway, it was enourmously exciting to be allowed to unpack the contents onto the table, setting aside the family favourites while others would be passed on to my aged Great Aunts. One of my particular favourites was Manor House cake, described as a “Mouthwatering golden sponge baked with juicy sultanas and topped with a sprinkling of sweet demerara sugar” It had a lovely malty background flavour too, maybe it still does, these days I don’t eat pre packaged cakes if I can avoid them; nasty oversweet things, full of palm oil and humecants.

I still do love a nice light fruit cake though, none of your OTT Christmas cake nonsense! November’s cake of the month is a slightly richer version of my favourite light fruit cake, made so with the addition of traditional ale. The beauty is in it’s versatility, enjoy with a cup of normal or herbal tea or a glass of milk . Eat as a snack, as part of a traditional afternoon tea or as a light meal with fruit and cheese. The kind of cake that is happy being served for tea at Granny’s house or post gala* at Lord and Lady Snob’s country pile.

Malted Ale fruitcake

  • 6oz (180g) self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2oz (60g) ground almonds
  • 4oz (120g) butter
  • 6oz light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3.5oz (105g) sultanas
  • 3.5oz (105g) raisins
  • 3tbsp malt extract
  • 4floz (125ml) ale (I used Old Speckled Hen) or use milk / plant based milk
  • demerara sugar for sprinkling

Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch diameter, deep, loose bottomed or springform cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 160ºc (140 fan, gas mark 3)

Heat the ale, butter, sugar and malt extract until the butter has melted. Add the dried fruit, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 mins. Leave to cool.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and beat in the eggs.  Sift over the flour, soda and almonds and beat well.

Pour into the cake tin, sprinkle generously with demerara sugar and put in the oven. Cover the top with a square of baking paper to prevent the top cooking before the middle. Depending on your oven it will take from 40 mins to an hour to cook. Test with a skewer after 40 mins just to be on the safe side. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the cake lighter you could use white sugar and milk instead of ale, to make it richer make up some of the weight of the dried fruit with chopped dried figs and apricots and soak them in ale overnight.

To the Manor Born was actually a sitcom starting in 1979, starring Penelope Keith.