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Recipes from a small village

18 December 2015

ST WULFRAN’s, Ovingdean, must have convivial parish gatherings, judging by A Village Cookbook, put together by Shirley Ross, Jay Butler, and many of the congregation. Most of the recipes are for puddings, cakes, and biscuits, and there are some wonderful Christmas recipes.

Barry Sugg contributes some handy ideas for people with food intolerances, and he suggests this “Yes-Yes” fruit cake for Christmas, with the addition of traditional Christmas spices and little nips of “suitable alcohol”.

200ml (6 fl. oz) almond oil

500ml (¾ pt) apple juice

300g (10 oz) pitted, chopped dates

350g (8 oz) raisins

200g sultanas

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

300g (10 oz) ground almonds

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Finely grated zest of an orange

100g (4 oz) chopped walnuts


Pour the oil and apple juice into a medium-sized saucepan, then stir in the dates, raisins, and sultanas, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will sizzle furiously. Leave it to cool for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3, and butter or oil a round, loose-based 20×9cm cake tin. Line with baking paper and butter this, also. Fold the ground almonds, nutmeg, orange zest and then walnuts into the dried fruit mixture.

Transfer the mixture to the tin, smoothing the surface. Tear off a sheet of baking paper large enough to cover the surface of the cake and go about halfway down the outsides of the tin. Cut out a small circle from the centre, about 2cm in diameter. Lay it over the top of the tin, and tie it in place with string.

Bake for 3 hours, testing it with a skewer (through the hole in the paper) after about 2½ hours. Remove the cake from the tin, leaving it to cool on the base. It will be good to eat the next day, but it will keep well in an airtight container for several weeks. If you like, you can give it a dusting of icing sugar before serving.

Gill’s Mincemeat oaties are a sort of triple-layer festive flapjack:


225g (8 oz) margarine

200g (7 oz) self-raising flour

150g (5 oz) oats

150g (5 oz) brown sugar

jar of mincemeat


Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4. Grease or use baking parchment to line a baking tin (about 28×18cm). Melt the margarine and add the flour, oats, and sugar. Press down more than half the mixture in a tin. Spread the mincemeat on top. Finally, crumble the remains of the oat mixture on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown. Score while hot. Cut into squares and remove from the tin when cold.

Ann Cook offers this very simple pudding, Toffee pears for 4:


4 English pears

50g (2 oz) butter

100g (4 oz) demerara or light soft

brown sugar


Heat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Peel, halve, and core the pears, and lay flat side down in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Dot with the butter, sprinkle over the sugar, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the pears are tender. Serve straight from the dish, spooning a little sauce over each portion. Serve with single cream.

For details of A Village Cookbook, phone Shirley Ross on 01273 301075, or email shirleyannross@googlemail.com.

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