Sunday, 2 March 2014

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies - Genoa cake


Can you believe the last ‘Famous Faces’ post was April 2013?  Why have I left it so long?  I have no answer to that as I do have a stash of them to post.  For those of you (all of you I’d imagine, given my tardiness!) who’ve forgotten what this is all about, basically I wrote to a bunch of celebrities I liked and asked them to tell me their favourite cake.  Which I then bake and post the recipe for.

I thought I’d kick start my Famous Faces posts with a national treasure – June Whitfield.  Hard though it is to believe, June started her career on the radio in the 1940s!  To me, she’s one of those utterly timeless people who never appears to age.  I remember her in my childhood from TV shows such as ‘Terry & June’ but perhaps my favourite role of hers, and I suspect the one most known to non-UK readers of my site, was as Edina’s mother in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ where her seemingly innocent yet withering put downs were delivered with brilliant ease.

June has selected Genoa cake although she caveats that with ‘not too often’.  Maybe we’ll have to politely disagree on that one....!

Genoa cake is a British classic and is based on
the Pandolce cake which originated in 16th century Genoa as a Christmas cake. It’s lighter than a traditional Christmas heavy fruitcake (think more the texture of a tea loaf) and has no icing.  The top is decorated with cherries and almonds. It seems, based on all the pictures I’ve seen, to be more commonly baked in a loaf tin rather than a round tin.  I have no problem with that – it is so much easier to cut a loaf cake!


115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g light brown sugar
2 eggs
225g dried fruit – I used a mix of sultanas, raisins and currants
75g glace cherries, chopped in half
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
175g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
50g ground almonds
50ml milk

To decorate:
Handful of glace cherries chopped in half
Handful of whole almonds


Preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan oven 160°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4.

Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  You will notice the mix turns paler – always a good sign you’ve beaten it enough!

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add the fruit, cherries, orange rind, cinnamon, flour, baking powder, almonds and milk and stir well to ensure all the ingredients have been incorporated evenly.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Gently press the decorate cherry halves and almonds into the top of the cake.

Bake for approximately 1 hour, but don’t worry if it needs longer, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve in generous slices with a cup of tea.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Kate@whatkatebaked said...

I love thus series! Hurrah, it's back!

MuchRatherBake said...

Having only found your blog after April 2013 I'm looking forward to more of these posts and I'm off to look back at the others!

Kezia said...

This is such a great series! I love fruit cake but sometimes feels the fruit to cake ratio is a little unbalanced - i.e it needs more cake! Genoa cake looks like a perfect solution to this dilemma. I bet it tastes absolutely fabulous too! (sorry)

Gloria Baker said...

This fruit cake look georgeous, love it!!

Vix Johnston said...

I have been asked to bake a cake for my aunt's 50th in the middle of March. She loves rich fruitcake, but my cousin's fiancee can't do nuts and I don't want to set her apart. Most of the fruit cake recipes I have use ground almonds to offset some of the sugar in the dried fruit. I don't have the time to do a proper heavy xmas-style cake so I'm going to try this without the nuts tomorrow and in a round tin - makes it easier to ice later, one hopes, tho I expect the fondant will be harder to do than the baking!

Katie said...

Yay pleased you have re-started this series, Its so interesting.
The cake looks lovely, not too heavy and perfect for afternoon munching. Love the two toned cherries on top

Maggie said...

I have always been fond of Genoa cake and I'm pleased to see you have
come back with this series.

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Love this series - great to see it back. And I had forgotten all about Genoa cake, but it's something we always seemed to have in the cupboard when I was little. :)

Jo said...

Yay Famous Faces' Favourite Fancies is back! What a lovely, homely loaf. I can never understand why people don't like fruit cakes. If made well they're wonderfully juicy.

Cakelaw said...

What a delicious looking cake!! I remember June from Ab Fab.

Snowy said...

What a great idea for a cake series, CC. Love Genoa cake, and yours looks delicious.

Choclette said...

You've put me into a major panic - I cannot believe it was such a long time ago since the last one!!!

I do like a good light fruit cake, heavy ones are not my thing, so June has good taste ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hubby loved this when I made it. Thank you. I think I might make another today for him :D