My Mum’s cousin has cancer. Cancer is a big scary word, especially when it’s inoperable and there’s only one ending, so the question always becomes how long. My Mum’s cousin has always seemed like an Aunty to me. She lives in Blackpool, about 60 miles away, but her family came from St Helens. That’s a mining and glass-making town, not well known for being very with it. In the Cotswolds and with a few more older buildings, you’d call it a quaint market town, but St Helens suffered from some of the worst Modern Ideas of the 60s so it’s a bit of a dump really. Shame, as it does have a good history to it and lovely people who live there.
Aunty D always visited us twice a year, taking the train and calling into St Helens Cemetery to visit her Mum and Dad’s grave before catching the bus out to Rainhill and having pie, chips and mushy peas as her lunch and setting off again to the station. She always brought us some little things, like Easter eggs or chocolates, crackers, a small decoration or something that she had seen and thought we would like. My Nana loved her, and we all do, even though she is a strange, small, bird-like woman. She has lived alone for many years and, even now, protects her privacy. She has told us that she will tell us when she’s ready for us to visit, but she’s fine at the moment.
Why am I telling you this on Recipe Tuesday? Well, because links get made in people’s minds and they’re difficult to break. I always associate Aunty D with Paddington. I think we visited Blackpool one summer day and I (aged 7) bought a small Paddington which I played with in her house. She likes bears, and has her own Edward Bear who is re-christened Noel every November in preparation for Christmas. She loves Christmas as well, and eccentricities are beautiful to me, so we always get on.
Paddington leads me on to Marmalade and the recipe today. I don’t wear a hat and can’t make proper marmalade sandwiches, but I do love marmalade, so today’s offering is a loaf of orange sweetness, not a drizzle cake, but a proper tea loaf style that you can slice and toast and put butter on. You won’t need marmalade, because the orange is in there already. You will need a good strong cup of tea. And a friend, because Paddington will tell you, food tastes better with friends.
Paddington’s Marmalade Cake
225g plain flour
3 level teaspoons baking powder
110g dark brown soft sugar
110g spreadable butter
zest of 1 small orange
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
110g mixed dried fruit
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon chunky homemade Seville orange marmalade
For the topping:
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°, gas mark 4.
- Line a 2lb loaf tin with a traditional loaf tin liner.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar, then rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarsely crumbled.
- Add the grated orange rinds, the mixed spice and dried fruit. Stir all these together and add the milk a little at a time, followed by the vinegar. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed, then stir in the marmalade – and you should have a good dropping consistency (so that if you tap a spoonful of the mixture on the side of the bowl, it drops off easily – you can adjust this with a touch more milk if necessary).
- Spread the mixture evenly in the tin using the back of a tablespoon, and sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar. Bake on a low shelf for 1¼ hours or until the cake feels firm in the centre. (After the cake has had 50 minutes, cover loosely with a piece of foil to prevent the sugar burning.)
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Store in its liner in an airtight tin.
This cake improves with keeping! If it lasts that long….
I tried to find a photo of the cake, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed the rare feat of getting to it before the kids! You’ll have to settle for this instead:
A picture of my book, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way and a reminder that you can get it from Amazon on Kindle or in paperback. And if you’ve got it already and like it, please do leave a review. Every star counts!
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