Honey, Ginger, Sultana and Orange Welcome Home Cake

Big Man has been in Spain for a couple of weeks so the day before he returned I cooked some dishes he would enjoy to welcome him home. This included a cake, as a special treat, and it was perfect for sitting around the next day (which was cold and snowy) with some good strong coffee while we had a good old catch up.

Where there’s cake, there’s usually a dog…

Regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t make many cakes, and when I do I mostly go down the “all in one” route and tend to use olive oil rather than butter. Not for health reasons, but because when I first started living in Spain it was more difficult for me to get hold of good quality butter (and getting it home before it melted in the summer was an adventure in itself). As we produce our own wonderful olive oil each year, it made sense to substitute this for the butter and I soon found that it produced light and delicious cakes…so I simply kept on using it.

This is more of a tea loaf than a sponge cake and would be delicious spread with butter (the best of both worlds! ) although it’s delicious as it is. I baked this in a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin and it cuts into about 12 slices.


  • 100g of sultanas soaked in your favourite tea (I used a ginger tea but Earl Grey would also be fantastic) then drained and cooled
  • 100g chopped candied peel
  • Approx 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 175g self raising flour mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g of runny honey

Preheat the oven to 185° fan oven or 195° regular oven and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the oil and honey together then add the eggs one by one. Mix in the drained sultanas,  candied peel and fresh ginger then mix in the flour and salt. This cake mix is as forgiving as  most of my others, so you don’t need to fold things together or be particularly gentle.

Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake for approx 45 minutes. Check if it’s done by inserting a skewer and if it comes out clean, you’re done. If it needs a few minutes longer and is beginning to brown, cover with some aluminium foil and give it another five minutes before checking again.

Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling completely on a rack. Will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container.

If you enjoy citrus flavours, take a look at this Sticky Citrus and Marmalade cake.

Sticky Citrus and Marmalade Tray Bake (4)
Going, going….nearly gone!




Tea Loaf for the Visiting Hordes

First of all, a big thank you to you all for your tremendous support through my “technical glitch”. I know I am not the most techy person in the world, but I don´t think I´m quite a dinosaur yet, so it was a huge pain. Anyway, I think I am almost caught up on my “re-subscribing” but please do remind me if you don´t see me on your blog if you normally do.

So, back to the food!  When you are staying with a pal, especially one who needs to take a lot of naps, you get plenty of time to have a good look through the cookery books that they have and you don´t. You also get to rummage through their cupboards working out if they have the ingredients to hand to make something which has inspired you.

This was one such recipe which came from the book, The Great British Bake Off. The final (optional) step comes from the recovering pal herself who very kindly e-mailed me the recipe as I forgot to write it down before I left for home! I think I was particularly attracted to this recipe as you melt the butter and sugar together rather than cream it, so I think I could adapt this to using olive oil in Spain as butter is harder to buy and keep fresh Up the Mountain.

Ingredients (makes 1 large loaf cake)

  •  175g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 300g luxury dried fruit mix (I used half sultanas which I had soaked in a small cup of Earl Grey tea and half dried apricots which I finely chopped)
  • 125ml full-fat or semi-skimmed milk at room temp
  • 2 large eggs at room temp

1 x 900g loaf tin, about 26 x 12.5 x 7.5cm, greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.  Put the butter and sugar into a medium sized pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a mixing bowl and stir in the dried fruit.  Beat together the milk and eggs until thoroughly combined, then pour into the flour mixture.  Add the melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly.  Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is a good golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Remove the tin from the oven and set on a wire rack.  Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then gently turn out the loaf onto the rack and leave to cool completely.
  4.  Wrap in foil or greaseproof paper and keep for 24 hours before cutting. (We ignored this and tucked right in). It´s lovely sliced and spread with butter.
  5.  Serve to people visiting slightly bemused woman fresh out of hospital wondering what on earth is going on.

Big Man´s Raisins

Now, this is not a cheeky post, so don´t go thinking I´m talking about anything remotely naughty. We´re talking dried grapes, White Muscat to be precise.

So, what is the difference between a Raisin, a Sultana and a Currant?  This question came up after a recent post for Banana Bread. I had absolutely no idea so off I went to check.  It seems Raisins are dried, seeded white grapes, usually Muscat.  However, the definition I found says that they are oven dried, but more of that later. Sultanas are dried seedless yellow grapes and Currants are dried, tiny, black seedless grapes.

Having mentioned that raisins are oven dried, I´m going to contradict myself.   Malaga is famous for its raisins which are sun dried.  In fact, close to where I live you can walk around some of the fields and still see the old style drying beds for the Uvas Pasas de Malaga – which is what this famous local product is called here.

They are used to make the sweet Malaga wine, in delicious rum and raisin ice cream, in sauces made with the Malaga wine for savoury pork dishes, and are particularly sought after over Christmas when they are eaten with almonds, walnuts, cheese and typical sweet local pastries.

So, when you´ve got a couple of vines dripping with more grapes than you can ever eat, what do you do?  Big Man decided that if I could sun dry tomatoes, then he could do the same with the grapes.

No, no…he didn´t need any help setting up the drying process – thank you very much.  And anyway, the table I use in the garden for my tomatoes was being used for its preordained purpose. 

No problem, a spare bathroom ceiling tile from some recent DIY was propped on top of my paella burner, and together with a couple of blocks of wood, an olive net (to protect them from the flies) and some washing pegs (to stop the net blowing away) a makeshift drying table was fashioned.  Who needs sophisticated drying nets when you´ve got top grade equipment like that?!

And guess what? It worked! Six days of hot sunshine later and we have our first batch of Uvas Pasas.  Not sure we´ll be able to hang onto them until Christmas, so as long as the sun shines, we´re planning on making a few more batches.

Big Man is justifiably proud of his raisins, but “shhh” – don´t tell anyone or they´ll all be wanting some.

PS. For another wacky way of drying fruit, check out this amazing post over at And Then Make Soup – it goes to show that where there´s a will there is always a way.

And a final PS.which is a big Thank You to Cecilia over at The Kitchens Garden and to Tandy at Lavender and Lime for passing on the Seven Links Challenge to me.  To see how I responded and to check out some of my previous posts, take a look at a post I did a few days ago…I was lucky enough to also be nominated earlier by Karen from Back Road Journal.