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My grandmother’s everyday fruit cake

August 27, 2013

My grandmother has had to go into a nursing home. Th is was not an easy decision for anyone especially her but she has improved physically so much in the two and a half weeks she has been there we can be sure it was the right choice. No one can cure her but what we can do is ensure she has the best possible care for as long as she needs it. I hope, trust and believe she is now receiving the best care available.

Twenty four hour care is not a budget option so we will have to rent her home to pay for it. For the last few weeks we have been engaged on the relentless task of clearing and sorting a house which has barely been touched for forty years so it can be rented. It’s hard work and such a sad task to be dismantling someone’s life while they are still alive but it has to be done.

Sometimes in the midst of it all we find something that triggers a happy memory or makes us smile. I found the book my grandfather had been reading when he died on the bookshelf. The page was still marked with a drawing I had done for him age six or seven.

Then today I opened a kitchen drawer and found a handwritten recipe for the cakes she used to bake for me and send to me at university. Royal Mail must have been better then because she would post me a freshly baked cake in a sealed tin from London and by the next day it would have travelled 180 miles and arrive at my residence in Devon. The porters used to keep a parcels list but if you got something that was obviously flowers or cake it went on a special list. If my name was on the cake list I could be sure of plenty of visitors that evening because my grandmother’s Everyday Fruit cake was legendary.

Overwhelmed by memories, despite being tired this evening after a day of sorting and packing I came home and immediately baked one just for old times sake and for the link to our shared past.

8 oz Plain Flour
6 oz Sugar – technically caster sugar but my Mum assures me it can be made with whatever sugar you have to hand including brown and it will still work
6 oz Butter
3 Eggs
10oz Mixed Dried Fruit
2oz Candied Peel
2oz Cherries
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 level teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 150 degrees

Put all ingredients into a bowl together and mix with a wooden spoon. (Alternatively as this is the 21st century put them all in your processor/ Kitchen Aid/ Kenwood Chef and mix.)
Pour mixture into greased 7 1/2 inch cake tin and bake for around two hours.

Actually we are going on a picnic to the beach tomorrow so for ease of transportation and eating I made mini cakes in a bun tin. A dozen small cakes (I divided the recipe by three) cooked in my fan oven in around twenty minutes.

My grandmother cannot bake for us anymore so I’ve done it for her. I’ll save one to take into her when I visit and see what if anything she remembers.

As I baked the spicy scent of the cake reminded me of the grandmother I used to have and my undergrad days when those parcels of cake were a welcome link to a home that sometimes seemed to be much too far away.


I wonder how much it would cost to post someone a tin of fruitcake now or even if today’s undergrads would be as pleased as my friends and I were.


From → Uncategorized

  1. dawn permalink

    I’m so glad that she’s doing well in the care home – a horrible decision to make, but it sounds like it was most definitely the right one for all of you. While Chris has been away this year I’ve been sending food parcels on a regular basis, sadly not home baked as I can’t manage that, but he does seem to have really appreciated both the feeling loved by getting a parcel and the biscuits and other goodies to eat and share.
    I hope you all really enjoyed the cakes and that your grandmother was able to remember them – and if not at least enjoy sharing them.

  2. Rosie H permalink

    When I went to boarding school, my Granny shared with my mother her recipes for “tuckbox cake” – one fruit and one ginger, pretty much guaranteed to last half a term. Sadly the fruit one was really not that good; the ginger one was nice, but didn’t keep as well. But especially in the first couple of years when we didn’t get that much pocket money, my friends and I did appreciate the sugar hits that were slightly more solid than the 20p a quarter sweets from the shop down the road!

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