Rajmund’s gone out – not back until supper time, so he’s left me to make today’s cake.
The internet is a wonderful resource, but like our larder the problem is finding what you’re looking for … it’s probably in there, but I can’t quite put my fingers on it! Recipes are tricksy too – you find something that looks delicious, you THINK you have all the ingredients … but no, something vital is missing.
So what’s a boy (OK, a 54-year old man) to do?
I remembered we had some ready-to-eat dried plums. Not prunes, they’re nice and soft – though you can boil them up and they’re delicious with yoghurt or rice pudding. That started me off – plum cake, plum bread (Polish black bread with plums in is delicious, incidentally, and good for snacks sweet or savoury). I found a recipe for Lincolnshire Plum Loaf on allrecipes.co.uk (don’t worry, I’ll include the link below) by MichaelUK that sounded about right, and I liked the idea of making a BIG recipe (see what you think when you see the quantities).
Music to accompany the mixing was the Polish cast recording of Les Mis – I can’t speak more than a few words of Polish, but I know what they’re singing and I can sing along in English.
Do you remember the work song at the beginning of Les Mis? That’s how I felt when I’d weighed the 950g flour and 450g margarine and was trying to hand-mix it to “breadcrumbs”. I always get stuck in when I make cake or pastry – there something satisfying about making things by hand – but this time I thought I’d met my match!
When you add up the ingredients, you’re somewhere about 7lbs of cake mix – even with a pint of liquid, this was heavy going. But I persevered.
4 hours after popping (popping! Heaving, more like!) my loaves into our super-duper oven (which seems to use a different thermostat for fan and not-fan cooking) I got two loaves and a small cake (no fishes – no miracles here!).
This is MichaelUK’s recipe
Serves : 30
- 950g (2 lb) self raising flour
- 450g (1 lb) caster sugar
- 450g (1 lb) margarine
- 450g (1 lb) mixed fruit
- 225g (8 oz) mixed peel
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 bottle Camp Coffee
- 200 – 400ml milk
Prep:1hr › Cook:3hr › Ready in:4hr
- Preheat the oven to 140 C / Gas mark 1. Line three loaf tins with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and margarine and rub together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the fruit, mixed spice and sugar to the bowl and mix well.
- In a measuring jug, combine the 4 eggs and camp coffee and beat well, then add the milk till the entire mixture measures 600ml (1 pint).
- Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time until the batter is smooth. Stir a wish into the mixture while you’re at it!
- Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Bake in the centre of the oven for 3.5 to 4 hours until the top feels firm. Insert a knife into the centre; if the blade comes out clean it is ready.
- Leave in the tin until cooled as the loaves tend to break if you remove them warm. When cooled, enjoy with butter or cheese or just on its own. It is best enjoyed served with afternoon tea or coffee.
I used four teaspoons of Dow Egbert’s Crema instant coffee in a little hot water, then made up the pint of liquid with fresh milk (for the neighbour’s cows) and the four eggs. And I sprinkled some chopped almonds on top. The smaller round loaf was ready at just over 3 hours – I left the larger loaves in for closer to the 4-hour mark.
I made this with free milk, free eggs, Tesco’s cheapest flour/sugar and a brand of margarine you won’t have heard of. Here in Poland we have to buy plain flour and add baking powder. There are all sorts of flour on the supermarket shelf, but they’re only different grades (fineness) for different purposes.
Conclusion – delicious, buttered, with a cup of Earl Grey or coffee.
Did you know Poles are great tea drinkers? Earl Grey is a huge seller. Most people take their tea black or with lemon – putting milk in tea is seen as very peculiar indeed!