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.

A love affair with chocolate

chocolate squares

If you were listening to the show earlier today, you’ll have heard guest Gilly Walker and the Girls Around Town sharing a Chocolate Moment with a difference…

In case you missed it – or if you’d like to enjoy it again – here’s Gilly’s sonnet; for a reminder of the story behind it, visit Gilly’s website here

Chocolate – a love story

We’ve had a life-long love affair, we two.

Though times I’ve tried to leave you and be free

It never lasts and I return to you –

I can never have enough of you, you see.

You’ve been my solace in a hostile world,

You’ve been my sweetness, oh, and my delight.

You’re there for me, your wrapper comes unfurled

At any time of day, or even night.

But I must give you up, I know I must,

Though it leaves a space that I can never fill.

I think of you and I am filled with lust

And seeing your rich brown body’s quite a thrill.

But here’s the thing: I’m getting rather fat, and clothing-wise things are a little tight.

I’ll give you up, I swear I will, I must.  But even so, not without a fight.