One long-ago fete season I was, as usual, picking through the jams and chutneys and cakes, when I picked up a cake labelled “wholemeal boiled fruit cake”. It felt heavy, looked full of fruit, and, despite its weight, I felt sure it would be moist. But things aren’t always as they look. I bought it, took it home, and ate it in one day. It was indeed what it seemed to be, and full of flavour as well.
I wrote glowingly about the cake, started a network to find its maker and the recipe, and, before you could knock off a block of chocolate, there was the maker at the end of the phone.
“How did you do it?” I said, a little nervously to Michele Day, mother of two sets of twins. “I went out with a boy when I was about 18,” she said, and I fumbled with the phone a little more nervously, “and this was pretty much the recipe of his mother.” That was it, nothing more. She was not, she said, any great cook.
“It was a fluke,” she said.
“And why the bicarbonate of soda at the boiling stage?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It has been trial and error. I just adjusted the recipe to suit my tastes—replacing white sugar with raw, white flour with wholemeal, varying the spices, and this was it.”
I had the recipe in my hand and started cooking. It all seemed so easy. It couldn’t be true. Ten minutes preparation, an hour’s cooling off, 90 minutes cooking, and there it was: light, moist, blackened at the edges. Just like the one at the fete. I had the wonder in my hands, for now and forever.
I made it again and took it to a party. Rave reviews. Naturally I took all the credit. Now, it was mine. That’s the beauty of sharing recipes. Now it’s yours too, adapted by Yolaine Corbin for the Thermomix to make it even easier.