Aunty Doff’s Easy Weet-Bix Fruit Cake

“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.” ~ Giada De Laurentiis

 

I was given this recipe by Aunty Doff, who was my Nana’s beloved sister. We stayed at her home on the Central Coast of NSW once when I was in primary school and she made this cake to welcome our Dad and us after a long drive. Of course, I asked for the recipe! This is a terrific simple bar loaf and I made it countless times during my school and university days. It could be whipped up for afternoon tea, and have enough left for our lunchboxes the next day. Better yet it’s the kind of cake that is pulled together from humble pantry staples.

There’s nothing fancy about this cake, but it is moist and flavoursome and easy for kids to whip up on their own. You just need a large bowl and wooden spoon, some boiling water and an oven.

Don’t be afraid to substitute the fruit for whatever dried varieties you have to hand. I’ve also used drained canned fruits such as pie apples, apricots, peaches and two fruits chopped into pieces and that’s delicious too. If you use canned fruit feel free to substitute half the boiling water for the juice from the can for extra flavour.

if you want to add chocolate chips or nuts to your cake add them at the end of making the batter so they don’t go soggy.

This cake is great on its own, served warm with ice-cream or yoghurt as a simple dessert, or served cold and spread with butter. It will keep well if stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about five days. If using canned fruit in your cake keep the cooked cake in the fridge. Enjoy!

The Heppell Family, early 1940s, Sydney. Dorothy (Aunty Doff) is 2nd from the left, and Joyce (my Nana) is on the far right.

Weet-Bix Maths

*If you’ve only got Weet-Bix crumbs don’t let them go to waste. One Weet-Bix biscuit crumbled is about 1/3 cup. So 1 and 1/3 cups is equivalent to 4 Weet-Bix, or about 65 grams. If you don’t have Weet-Bix substitute a similar breakfast cereal. I’ve used Sultana Flakes and also All-Bran with good results.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 Weet-Bix, crushed (*See note above)
  • 1 cup of raw sugar (I often use half a cup, and yes you can use plain sugar or brown sugar or you favourite sugar substitute too)
  • 1 cup of mixed fruit, chopped into small pieces if fruit size is large. For today’s cake I used a mixture of sultanas, dried apricots and dates.
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter (60 grams)
  • 1 cup boiling water (250 ml)
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional – your choice of 1/2 cup of chopped nuts or seeds for top of cake. Today I used Walnuts and Sunflower Seeds

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Place the Weet-Bix, fruit, butter, sugar and boiling water in a large bowl. Mix well and stand for five minutes.
  3. While the Weet-Bix softens line a Bar Tin (8cm x 25cm) or cake tin of your choice with baking paper. Don’t get too fancy. No-one ever died from having an imperfectly lined tin!
  4. Add all other ingredients to your wet ingredients and stir well.
  5. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan. Using a wet hand pat the mixture into the corners of the tin and flatten it gently so that the batter is evenly distributed. If you are using nuts or seeds sprinkle them onto the cake and press them in lightly with a clean hand.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed or a skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cooking time will vary depending on what size tin you use, and what kind of fruit and flour you choose.
  7. Cool for five minutes and then remove from tin and place on rack to cool.
  8. Enjoy eating your delicious cake, courtesy of Aunty Doff’s great recipe!

Look below for the step-by-step pictures…

 

Vanilla Cake with Passionfruit Glaze

“Through enjoyment we endure.” 
~ Florence Ditlow

 

Looking for an easy, moist and yummy vanilla cake? My Nana Cody used to make this simple cake every school holidays when we were children. The only thing that ever varied was the flavour of icing she’d add to the top. It’s pretty much a foolproof recipe, which is one of the many reasons for loving this cake. Plus, it’s DELICIOUS!!!

When Nana married, my Gran (great grandmother!) passed her copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery and a notebook full of family recipes and household hints to Nana help her manage as a new wife. By the time I came along decades later both books had been very well used. The notebook was food-stained and stuffed with cuttings from magazines and recipes jotted down onto the backs of envelopes or notepaper from thoughtful friends. This Vanilla Cake from Nana’s notebook had an extra page beside it on which Gran Heppell had written several variations and suggestions for serving:

  • Serve plain and fresh with hot tea for workers or a slice with first tea before breakfast.
  • Good plain for an upset stomach. Crumb and add to milk for fussy children.
  • Split in half. Spread jam over bottom of cake and then a generous serve of whipped cream. Replace lid and dust with icing sugar to serve.
  • Fill with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream slightly sweetened and vanilla added. Dust top of cake.
  • Fill with lemon curd and a layer of whipped cream. Dust top.
  • For a marble cake split mixture into three bowls. Add pink colouring to one, and a teaspoon or two of cocoa to the second until a good colour is obtained. Add each colour in spoonfuls to greased cake pan and swirl together slightly with a knife blade.
  • Make a buttercream and add to it the pulp of one or two passionfruit. Fill sponge with buttercream and ice with a glaze to which more passionfruit has been added.

I wrote those notes carefully into my own kitchen notebook and have made many many variations of this cake ever since. It is always a good and easy cake to make, which never fails. Yesterday we had a farm full of visitors and workers, so I whipped the cake up in the morning, ready for smoko. By dinner there were only crumbs left in the cake tin!

Here’s Nana’s Mrs Beeton’s which is now mine!

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 grams of soft butter
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt

Cake Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Place the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer in the order given above. Wet ingredients must go in last!
  4. Mix at low speed for one minute or until combined.
  5. Beat at high speed for three to four minutes until batter is pale and creamy and smooth.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  7. Cool cake completely before filling or icing as required.

NB: Failure to adhere to ingredient order and placing flour in mixing bowl last may result in a cloud of flour covering you and/or the kitchen. You have been warned! And yes, I totally forgot and look what happened. 

To split the cake for filling use a large serrated knife and cut horizontally through the middle of the cake. Gently lift the top and place aside on a tea-towel or clean plate while adding filling to the bottom half of the cake.

Passionfruit Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 125 grams softened butter
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • Pulp and juice of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. Beat butter until whipped and creamy
  2. Gradually add icing sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. After the first 1/2 cup of icing sugar add a little passionfruit pulp. Beat well and then continue adding sugar, alternating with passionfruit. When the icing is very thick and creamy spoon onto the bottom layer of cake and replace top half of cake.

Passionfruit Glaze Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • the juice and pulp of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. To make the icing (frosting) sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the softened butter and the pulp of one passionfruit. Beat well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. If mixture is too stiff add extra passionfruit until the correct consistency is reached.
  2. Spread onto the top of the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.

Serve with a nice cup of tea, in the company of friends.

Or eat it all yourself. It’s up to you, really! 😀

Much love, Nicole xx

PS – Have you noticed how much Rufous seems to end up in all my food shots? He’s so like our old dog Bert it’s uncanny!

 

Easy Date, Ginger and Walnut Cake Recipe

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“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”
~ William Cowper

 

What am I doing this morning? Well, as soon as this blog is done I’ll be making a nice cup of tea, cutting myself a slice of this cake and sitting down with my journal for an hour or so. Today is a powerful time for dreaming, planning, birthing and manifesting our heart’s desires into the world, riding on the back of this incredible new moon and solar eclipse energy. If you can find some time today, I highly encourage you to take a little time too to envision your dream life, and what you most want to be, do and create in the world over the coming years.

But I digress. Back to cake!

This cake is a firm favourite in our household. It’s easy to whip up, using just one saucepan and a wooden spoon. The cake can be made with traditional or gluten-free flour, both with great results. You can enjoy this cake eaten warm as a dessert, or cold as a proper cake. It has great keeping qualities, and most importantly, it is divine with a cup of tea or coffee.

The cake begins as a light, fluffy creation when first made, but over the ensuing days becomes heavier, and it will keep for about a week. I often serve it sliced and buttered for smoko at the farm.

I sometimes ice this cake with a lemon icing too. That was my intention when I made this one, as our niece was coming to visit for a few days and I wanted to surprise her with something a bit special.

But yesterday, with the cake just out of the oven and the whole house smelling of spice and sugar, the local excavator operator and his off-sider called in to say hello and have a cuppa. And then the energex workers who were working down on the river flats clearing trees from under our power lines turned up too. Result? Cake demolished, with no time to turn it into something pretty.

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Ingredients:

1 cup of pitted dried dates, 1/2 cup crystalised ginger, 1/2 cup walnuts, 125 grams (1/2 cup) of butter, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 cup of cold tea (your favourite black or herbal ginger is fine. I usually use French Earl Grey but it’s fun to experiment), 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger, 1 large egg – beaten, 1 and 1/2 cups self-raising/all purpose flour or your preferred self-raising/all purpose gluten-free flour mix.

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Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit) and prepare a deep 9 inch/22 centimetre round or an 8 inch/20 centimetre square tin by lining it with baking paper.

Chop the dates and walnuts into small pieces, and chop the ginger quite finely. It tastes better and gives the cake a better texture having the ginger in smaller pieces.

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Place the dates, chopped ginger, butter, salt, sugar and tea in a large saucepan. Trust me – use a largish one as this will eventually become the cake mixing bowl. Isn’t it lovely when you save on washing up!

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Place over medium heat and bring to a strong boil, stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks. Turn off heat and allow to cool for five minutes. Add in the bi-carb soda. This will make the mixture foam – don’t panic – it’s perfectly normal. Stir well, and then place aside to cool down some more.

When the mixture is cool enough that you can comfortably stick your finger in, toss in the walnuts then sift in the flour and ginger. Stir well with a wooden spoon and then add the beaten egg and stir through gently to combine.

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Spoon into the prepared tin. Eat the rest of the batter stuck to sides of saucepan. Yum! 🙂

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Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cake is baked when it springs back when lightly pressed in the centre or when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

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Cool in tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

2014-10-23 13.49.50And with messy slatherings of butter for the second offering, after the hungry workers ate the first plate of cake in 2.5 minutes flat! Cake now cool enough that butter didn’t slide off. LOL! (Butter looks very pale here – it was freshly churned a few hours before by a neighbour and was DELICIOUS!!!)

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And if you do want to get fancy and use a lemon icing on it, there’s a good recipe here, with the outstandingly good Lemon Slice recipe.