Achieving a Cake-Life Balance

This post is by way of a begging bowl. In three Sundays’ time, 30 July 2017, I am planning to ride 100 miles in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. If you are able to donate anything, I would be very grateful: please follow the link posted at the bottom of this post.

Why am I doing this? Why Prostate Cancer UK or why cycle 100 miles? There is no particular story but I have recently learned of a number of men suffering from this and come to realise that the routine tests women take for granted in terms of cervical cancer and breast cancer do not seem to be reflected in a cancer that is incredibly common in men. This seems unfair to me, so anything that helps promote the research and treatment of this killer has to be good.

In terms of why cycle 100 miles, well that brings me back to the Cake-Life balance. If you want to eat cake regularly and you don’t want to end up the size of a double-decker bus, then there is only one solution: eat a balanced diet and exercise! There are no shortcuts and no way around this simple truth. I don’t always get it right, but I try to eat less on my rest days, allow myself more calories on the days I do exercise and make sure that I exercise more days than not, usually 5-6 days per week. The Prudential Ride 100 therefore gave me a new challenge and a focus to my exercise. I miss not running, but I have cycled more, much more than I ever thought I could wish to! In my 50th year, it has provided some additional new challenges: I have learned to love riding with cleats, having never tried them until about three-four months ago and I have just bought my very first road bike. I have three weeks to adapt to this, hopefully without falling off too often! (I’ve also just had to learn how to post a URL link.)

Anyway, enough about me and back to the more important business of baking. Chapter Two of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible is Fruit and Nut Cakes. So far, I have made three, one of them twice, due to operator error. They have all been simple, mix everything up together type recipes. I’ve taken some photos but they are obviously not the most exciting looking cakes and I’m not the best photographer, so please make allowances.


The first recipe was a Cranberry and Apricot Cake (above). It also contained tinned pineapple and was very generous on the fruit, making a large cake, which was decorated with blanched almonds. It was moist and tasty and I recommend it highly. I had not made it before, but will definitely make it again. As you can see I allowed it to catch ever so slightly on the top, but there was ample compensation in some lovely chunks of dried apricot. I think I may have mentioned before, Aldi’s own brand are excellent. The cake would be ideal for a high tea or if you had people round. It could also be used as a last minute Christmas Cake, either as it is or iced if preferred.

Next was a Quick-Boiled Fruit Cake (below); I have made this before and I gather that it is a popular recipe that Mary Berry has been asked for many times. Again it is generous with the fruit, which is boiled with condensed milk and butter before adding flour and eggs. It is moist and juicy and as versatile as before. I think I slightly over-cooked it so it was a little drier than it should have been.


Finally, I made the interestingly titled Jane’s Fruit Cake. The recipe does not say who Jane is or why this should be her cake. I made it twice, because it was supposed to be made with wholemeal self-raising flour and despite thinking, “Oh good, I’ve got half a bag of that to use up,” I forgot and used white flour the first time so I made it again. I got the cooking time spot-on in both too. There’s some logic there… perhaps. Still, it gave Mr D and me a chance to check we really liked it and we do. (B&B do not think much of fruit cake so I have also had to make them a chocolate sponge and some Mars Bars cakes to keep them going. Mr D and I both love fruit cake so all the more for us!) Having said that, I may not make it again. It was not sufficiently distinctive or different for me to warrant that.


The picture on the left (above) has wholemeal flour and as you can see, even allowing for my poor photography, is slightly darker than the one with white flour, but they taste very similar. Again they would work well for a slightly special tea or perhaps a coffee morning.

Finally, before I forget (and having made you sit through talk about cakes you probably didn’t get chance to eat), here is the link I promised:

Please give if you are able to this very worthy charity. Thank you very much.








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