Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

It's never too late to learn to bake with Mrs Simkins                                                        August 2010  

It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Bake with Mrs Simkins

Cooking with Mrs Simkins: How to Cook Simple, Wholesome, Home-made Meals Popular cookery author Mrs Simkins is recognised for her straightforward writing and easy-to-follow recipes.

Her work, which includes a weekly column in the popular Blackmore Vale Magazine in the West Country, is based on a lifelong interest in food and developing new recipes plus over thirty years cooking for family and friends.

See Mrs Simkins Suggests... for kitchen equipment suggestions

Her first book ‘Cooking with Mrs Simkins’ is out now and available from Amazon. Her second book ‘Tea with Mrs Simkins’ will be published in September.



Baking may be one of those things you have always meant to do but have never quite got around to. Maybe you do bake but feel you could improve a bit more. Maybe you are an accomplished baker already but just love trying out new recipes or new ways of doing things. Whichever applies to you, I hope you will find something in this monthly column that will appeal!


This month

Cosy Cake

cakeThis is a lovely old fashioned cake that tastes purely of itself, nothing fancy: just fresh butter and eggs, brown sugar and fruit. It’s the kind of cake you might remember from your childhood, your granny or one of your maiden aunts might have brought it out for Sunday tea. It is very simple to make. Boiling the fruit beforehand makes it all plump and luscious and the sugar on top is the finishing touch.



110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) light soft brown sugar
200ml (scant 7 fl oz) water
225g (8oz) dried fruit: currants, raisins and plenty of sultanas
225g (8oz) self raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A teaspoonful or so of unrefined caster sugar for sprinkling

You will need a greased 18cm (7 inch) loose bottomed cake tin

Preheat oven to 160C (fan oven) or equivalent



Cut the butter into small pieces and put into a saucepan with the water, sugar and fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Leave until it is completely cold and sieve in half the flour and add the eggs, sieve the rest of the flour over the top. Mix them thoroughly together with a wooden spoon. If you use a fairly roomy saucepan you can use it to mix it all together in and save on washing up!

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and wrap the tin loosely in greaseproof paper, tucking it underneath to secure. Bake for about 1¼ hours or until it is golden in colour and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Sprinkle with sugar whilst still warm.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.

You can email Mrs Simkins at


Mrs Simkins Suggests...

cake standJohn Lewis Vintage 3 Tier Cake Stand £37

Have a look at this cake stand on the John Lewis website - It is quite pricy but it is a classic design and there is nothing like an old-fashioned tiered cake stand to set the tone for a civilised afternoon tea!

The stand is made of earthenware, in a fairly plain, yet nicely antique style. The neutral cream colour means it won’t clash or look out of place with your existing china. It’s also plain enough to use on a more everyday basis as well: to set off your cakes and biscuits when friends come round, even if you are just gathering round the kitchen table.

I was always taught that savoury items such as little triangular and finger sandwiches belong on the bottom tier of the cake stand, plainer sweet things such as scones and shortbread should go on the middle tier, and sweet cakes and pastries on the top.

Email Mrs Simkins with Tea-Time Tales!

If any of you set out your cakes stands differently, or have any other snippets of tea-time etiquette, I would like to hear from you! Please email me at


Tea with Mrs Simpkins


Tea with Mrs Simkins
Published by Spring Hill, an Imprint of How to Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-905862-43-6
Available in October 2010 and available to pre-order now from Amazon, £12.99



Previous articles in the series:

Cookery column 1 - Baking scones
Cookery column 2 - Easter biscuits
Cookery column 3 - Lemon Drizzle cake
Cookery column 4 - Ginger batter buns
Cookery column 5 - Coconut tarts
Cookery column 6 - Cosy cake



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti