Campfires and fruitcake! Two of my favourite things.

This weekend, I was in my happy place. I was outdoors with a bunch of amazing scouts and leaders building catapults, leading camp songs around a campfire getting kids to shout really, really loudly, listening to the owls at night and watching the clouds whizzing past the full moon. We were lucky with the weather, sitting here writing this it is hammering down with rain and I am thanking the camping gods for the dry weather we had on Sunday so we could pack tents away dry.

Needless to say, it was my job to order the food and coordinate the cooking. So, as per usual we had more than we needed of lots of things, but better too much than hungry kids or, worse, hungry leaders!! Lots of happy campers with that old favourite of camp chilli on Saturday night!

In the morning, the scouts cooked their own breakfast over an open fire having lit it using flint and steel. They had sausages on the grill, baked beans in a billy (which is a little pot as in the song Waltzing Matilda – ‘he sang as he watched and waited ’til his billy boiled’), cooked damper on a stick and cheese toasties toasted in foil in the embers. Somehow, I had managed to order 500g tins of baked beans rather than the regular size cans so we had a bit of an excess!! I think I prefer the custard excess of the Jamboree of 2 years ago – we ended up with litres of the stuff! The Scouts seemed to have fun cooking and eating whilst the leaders had full English including Black Pudding.

One of the leaders had recently had a birthday so I made some fruit cake as a birthday cake. It went down a storm. I hardly got a look in! This old fashioned fruit cake is one of those recipes that always seems to make people happy. And so for my lovely leader friends to enjoy when I am not around to make it for them, here is the recipe. I am not entirely sure where it came from – it is on a faded piece of paper, splattered with grease marks and stains like all favourite recipes are! Maybe from an old BBC Good Food Magazine. It maybe on the blog somewhere already but here it is again. For an easy to print copy then click here.


  • 450g mixed dried fruit
  • 175g butter
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 250mls dark beer (Leffe Brune works)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice

Ready in 1hr 45mins


  1. Put the fruit, sugar, butter and beer into a saucepan.  If you don’t want to use alcohol or have none to hand you can use fruit juice.  Heat it until everything has melted together and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  
  2. Heat the oven to 150 C and grease your tin.  I used two loaf tins but you could use a deep round cake tin.
  3. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes and add the bicarbonate of soda.  It will froth. 
  4. Mix in the beaten eggs.  Then add the flour and mixed spice.
  5. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin or tins.   If you don’t plan to ice your cake then sprinkle some demerara sugar over the top and maybe some sliced almonds.
  6.  Put them in the oven for about an hour.  You will need a little longer if you are using one deep tin.
  7. The cakes are ready when you put a knife in and it comes out clean.
  8. You could ice this cake for a Christmas or other special occasion. 

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