serves 6
175g/6oz unsalted butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
2 whole eggs, beaten
175g/6oz self raising flour
1 tbsp shredded fresh basil
finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
4 tbsp water
25g/1oz poppy seeds

For the sticky lemon topping:
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp water
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, blanched – see tips
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment paper.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale, light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time. Fold the flour into the mixture, then stir in the basil, lemon zest, water and poppy seeds. Pour mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sticky topping – heat caster sugar and 3 tbsp water in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Add blanched lemon zest, increase the heat and bring to a simmer and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until zest is tender.
Place lime juice and icing sugar in another small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Drain the lemon zest, add it to the lime syrup then bring to a simmer.
Prick the hot, cooked cake using a skewer (it will have sunk, but don’t worry!!), then pour over the hot lime syrup and lemon zest. Leave the cake in the tin until cool, then carefully lift out using the lining paper. Cut cake into slices to serve.


The zest or rind of the lemon is the coloured part of the skin – when you are removing it, avoid also taking off the white ‘pith’ which is very bitter. The lemon zest should be blanched for this recipe to begin to soften it and to take away any remaining bitterness. Remove the zest from the lemon using a zesting tool and blanch the zest in a small pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain then repeat the blanching process twice more, using fresh water each time.


Cream 175g/6oz unsalted butter and 175g/6oz caster sugar together until pale, light and fluffy, then gradually beat in 2 eggs. Fold 115g/4oz self raising flour and 3 tbsp cocoa powder into the mixture, then stir in 4 tbsp water and the finely grated zest of 1 orange. Pour mixture into a lined 900g/2lb loaf tin and bake as above.
Meanwhile, remove the zest of 1 orange using a zester and blanch in three changes of boiling water (see tips above). Squeeze the juice of the orange into a pan, add 3 tbsp icing sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the blanched orange zest and simmer for 3 minutes. Prick the surface of the cooked sponge, pour over the hot syrup and leave to cool.

If you’re really short of time, prick a bought Madeira cake with a skewer and pour over either of the flavoured hot syrups.


1 small loaf

A lot of fruit cakes are either dry or crumbly or both, not this recipe. Its best to soak the fruit in the whiskey and lemon juice overnight, it makes a real difference to the end cakes texture. All cake recipes need Stork, butter, I think is not as good to the end texture and flavour. I have cooked this both ways, Stork does come out on top. This cake also has no eggs, its not often you see that in a recipe.
I like to serve mine sliced, with a nice layer of salted butter, perfect.

Preparation time:- 20 mniutes.
Cooking time:- 45-50 minutes.

350g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
175g Stork margarine
170mls milk
85mls whiskey
1 tbsp lemon juice
175g dark brown raw cane sugar
175g currants
85g sultanas
1½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda

Soak the fruit in the whiskey and lemon juice, leave for 2 hours or best overnight.
Pre heat the oven to 180°C gas 4.
Rub the Stork into flour along with the spice.
Mix the sugar, currents, whiskey, sultanas, lemon juice together.
Then add the dry ingredients, do not overwork or the cake will end up chewy to eat, as you will overwork the gluten.
You must end up with a ‘dropping consistency’ texture.
Bake in the oven in a lined tin for 40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Turn out and cool.
Slice and spread thickly with salted butter.

Copyright Phil Vickery
July 2006