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.

Let them make cake!

Turning a hobby into a business is always a popular topic on Girls Around Town and if the business in question involves food, so much the better.

Someone who’s done just that is Lyndsay Sadler, who joins June and Rosalyn in the studio this weekend to talk about how she’s now sharing a life-long passion for cooking with the young – and not so young! – in a variety of ways.

In addition to making beautiful celebration cakes and cupcakes, she passes on her skills in the kitchen to children and teenagers by giving them the opportunity to make their own tasty treats. And of course, to enjoy the results of their new-found culinary expertise too…

Lyndsay will be describing her own journey, from spending hours transfixed by the tempting cakes in her mother’s cookery books to studying for a City and Guilds in Advanced Professional Cookery and later living above a boulangerie in Lyon and getting up early to watch the bakers at work.

Now with four children of her own, ranging from one to twelve-years old, when they started growing up she knew she wanted to combine everything she’d learned with a business and so Coco’s Kitchen was born.

“I’ve always loved involving my children in what I’m doing in the kitchen,” she says.  “We cook regularly together and enjoy ourselves enormously in the process. Cooking with your kids is quality family time and the added bonus is you get the wonderful bonding experience of sharing something delicious together at the end.

“Each year, as my own children’s birthdays came around, I looked for new ideas for their parties and then it suddenly occurred to me that, with my experience of both food and children, I should start my own business to cater for this growing market.”

Tune in to 107.8FM or listen online between 10am and 12 noon to find out more about the benefits of getting your kids busy in the kitchen. Lyndsay will also be talking about some of her favourite makes and bakes – luckily for June and Rosalyn’s waistlines, there’ll be no cakes in the studio this Sunday but word is she’ll be whipping up a tasty wintry soup…

Sounds like just the job for a chilly November lunchtime!

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.