Chocolate cake, holiday, The Hobbit, Weekend

Food, Men and The Weekend…
By Ardfern

It was DD’s birthday this week, so I asked her what kind of birthday cake she wanted. Son Number One had a brief flirtation with a glamorous new creation from Mary Berry, complete with cream-cheese frosting for his recent birthday, but DD wanted the usual double-chocolate cake.  I made it, and we did the whole candle bit – very satisfying, in every meaning of the word.

Unfortunately, DD didn’t have room to pack the remaining cake when she went back to university. The plan was to freeze it in slices, but that didn’t happen. She left it here, and now not much of it is left! It’s such an easy recipe and so good, I’ll make another one to celebrate the day she comes back again. That’ll be after her finals, so it’ll be a double celebration, to go with the double-chocolate cake.

One of DD’s presents was the DVD of The Hobbit. I sat through the whole film trying to remember where I’d seen “Kili” before – of course, it was Aidan Turner, who was in Being Human a few years ago.

This weekend I’m taking a break to try and get the garden up together. After two years of terrible weather and back-to-back-deadlines, my poor garden has reverted to long grass. The wildlife loves it, but it’s nice to have some parts where we can sit outside without feeling we’re in a jungle.

This week, I’m offering the chocolate birthday cake recipe free for new subscribers to my newsletter. The next edition of that will be out in May – to sign up, just email me at with the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

2013, Chocolate cake, New Year


I’ve been away for a while, so I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and managed a nice rest before starting the new year. Thanks for all your messages: I’m glad those of you who tried the Chocolate Mincemeat Cake enjoyed it (and no one seems to have tried before I’d corrected the “Micemeat” misprint!) For those of you who missed the recipe the first time around, here’s a little something to keep you busy until my next post…

Care: this isn’t gluten free, and you really need the dots to be white chocolate – I didn’t have any when I first tried this recipe out, and the ordinary milk-chocolate dots I used were virtually invisible in the finished cake.


150g softened butter 
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
185g  self-raising flour
40g cocoa powder
400g mincemeat (I used my own recipe of mixed dried fruits, plus grated apples and brandy)
80g each of sultanas and raisins
20g quartered glace cherries, washed & well dried.
50g blanched almonds, chopped
100g of white chocolate dots


Pre heat oven to Gas Mark 3/Electric 160 deg. C, Fan 140 deg C.
Line a 20cm/8” tin with a couple of layers of greaseproof paper.
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and beat for 1- 2 minutes, until well mixed.
Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for between 90 minutes – 2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  You’ll probably need to cover the cake with tinfoil toward the end of the cooking time, to stop it browning too quickly.
Leave the cake to cool in its tin for a while before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake doesn’t freeze and is unlikely to keep for as long as a traditional rich fruit cake, but this doesn’t matter as it vanishes in a very short time!