The icing on the cake

The new Magnolia Tree Cookery School in Newark isn’t open for bookings quite yet…

But it won’t be long before Sue The Cook – otherwise known to listeners as former Girls Around Town presenter Sue Jackson – opens her kitchen for a series of relaxed, friendly courses designed to give everyone the skills needed to cook at home.

In the meantime, who better to road-test her baking skills than June and Tina during this morning’s show?

Taking her inspiration from The Queen of Cakes herself, Sue arrived armed with with something for them to do just that – and let’s face it, who’s going to say no to a piece of Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Traybake?

“I believe cooking should be fun and eating certainly is,” she says. And as the show drew to a close, the verdict was unanimous – it definitely was.

Welcoming Sue and Tina back to the studio was a treat in itself but tucking into that traybake was quite simply the icing on the cake!

Want to give the recipe a go? Help yourself – when you serve it up, everyone else certainly will…

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Traybake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 225g / 8oz butter or margarine, softened
  • 225g / 8oz caster sugar
  • 275g / 10oz self-raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the topping

  • 175g/6oz granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Directions

  1. Grease a 30 x 23 cm (12 x 9 in) foil tray and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Heat the oven to 160° C/Fan 140° /gas mark 3.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well blended.
  4. Turn into the foil tray, ensure the mixture is level using a spatula.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins or until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch.
  6. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes and then place on a cooling rack.
  7. Mix the lemon juice with the granulated sugar and using a teaspoon or pastry brush, cover the cake with the topping while it is still warm. Place the tray under the cooling rack to catch any drips.
  8. Cut into squares when cold.

The icing on the cake

If you were listening to last Sunday‘s show, you’ll have heard Lyndsay Sadler sharing her recipe for a traditional English fruitcake with June and Rosalyn.

Did what she said inspire you to get into the kitchen and make your own Christmas cake this year? If it did, there’s still time – and here’s the full recipe to help you do so.

It’s a great family activity so remember to get the kids involved too and don’t forget that all-important step as you’re stirring the mixture before putting it in the tin…

Close your eyes and make a wish!

Coco's Kitchen's Traditional English Fruitcake

  • Servings: Makes a 20cm cake
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Ingredients

  • 570g mixed dried fruit
  • 75g glacé cherries, halved
  • 100ml brandy or sherry*
  • 200g butter or margarine
  • 200g soft dark brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp grated nutmeg
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 50g ground almonds*

*Replace the brandy or sherry with cold tea or orange juice for an alcohol-free version – for a nut-free version, replace the ground almonds with a further 50g of flour

Method

  1. The day before you want to make your cake, put all the dried fruit in a bowl, add the brandy or sherry, cover and leave overnight.
  2. Line the inside of a 20cm tin with baking paper and use brown paper or newspaper to wrap around the outside, securing this with string, to protect the edges from the heat of the oven during the two-hour cooking time.
  3. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together until they look creamy and the butter is slightly lighter in colour. Add the eggs one at a time.
  5. Sift the flour and spices into a separate bowl then tip and slowly fold it into the butter mixture using a metal spoon.
  6. Add the orange and lemon zest and the almonds to the soaked fruits then tip it all into the cake mixture and slowly stir in. Remember to make that wish as you stir!
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and gently smooth the surface. Put some baking paper on the top of the mixture so that it doesn’t brown too much in the oven. Place the cake in the centre of the preheated oven and bake. Remove the paper from the top about 15 minutes before it’s due to be done.
  8. Lightly prod the top of the cake – if it feels very soft and you can still hear a lot of bubbling, it’s not quite cooked. If it looks done and feels firm to the touch and is silent, insert a skewer or sharp knife. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If it doesn’t, give it another 15 minutes in the oven and then test it again.
  9. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before turning out and then you can start feeding it! Prick the surface with a skewer and add a bit more brandy or sherry to it – do this a couple of times a week until you’re ready to add the finishing touches, topping it with marzipan, icing and your choice of Christmas-y decorations.

Time for a treat?

Who says eating healthily means never being able to enjoy the occasional treat?

Certainly not Alison Harris, last Sunday’s guest on Girls Around Town – and June is with her all the way on that too…

Everybody needs a bit of a treat once in a while and if it’s a guilt-free one, then so much the better.

Next time you’re tempted to reach for a chocolate bar or a cake, give Alison’s protein balls a try – quick and easy to make, you can even pop them in the freezer which means they’re always to hand when you want to spoil yourself a little!

Alison's Protein Balls

  • Servings: Makes 18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 100gms ground almonds
  • Approx 75gms raisins
  • 2 tbsps peanut buttter
  • 1 tbsp ground mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • Handful of berries, grapes or orange segments

Directions

  1. Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, making sure the mixture is wet enough to stick together – you can add a little extra peanut or coconut oil if you wish.
  2. Shape into bite-sized balls and roll in dessicated coconut.
  3. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze them if you want to.