I woke full of the joys of spring this morning. My husband will be arriving soon with his precious cargo of beloved daughter and granddaughter. I have had hardly any time at home recently but I was quite pleased to see that I had everything under control when it hit me - no cake! The children always like to be greeted with the aroma of freshly-baked cake, and I hadn't made one.
My mother's recipe for what she used to call her 'boiled cake for emergencies' came to mind. When I was a student, my mother used to send me regular food parcels. There was always a fruit cake and jars of Gentlemen's Relish and other savoury spreads because afternoon tea in the college refectory was always bread with jam or sticky chocolate spread and very sweet cakes which I disliked. Unfortunately, the arrival of parcels for students was always announced at lunchtime, so when the wonderful words, 'There is a parcel for Maureen Graham to be collected from the Porter's Lodge' were heard, I knew that mine would be the most popular room in college and that I would be lucky to save a single crumb of cake for myself.
This is the recipe for the cake she would make at short notice, when I rang to say I couldn't wait for the regular parcel:
Put 4oz butter, 4oz sugar, 1lb pack mixed dried fruit, 1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice, 1 scant teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 8fl oz water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer for a minute.
Allow the mixture to cool. Meanwhile beat two eggs. Sift together 4oz self-raising flour and 4 oz plain flour and a pinch of salt. Stir these into the cooled mixture.
Put the cake mixture into a prepared 8inch cake tin. Cook for about 1 hour 15 mins in a moderate oven. (Mine goes into the Aga cakebaker)
And here is the finished product, ready to greet the travellers, who have just rung to say they will be here in less than an hour. Whew! Thanks, Mum.