God, all I wanted to do was make cakes! by Shana Dawn Lewis

Growing up in my West Indian household at Easter and Christmas time, there were certain ‘must-haves’ and ‘must-do’s’. Some to me were a bit odd and, I have to be honest, I’ve not kept up with some of them. For example, a must-do: buy new net curtains EVERY Christmas… I mean REALLY. Who does that? Apparently quite a
few people…

My mum would start to panic if anything was missing, and I would say to her: “Mum, it’s OK. We’ve got all of the must-haves: sorrel, sweetbread, ginger beer, smoked ham and, of course, the CAKE!”

Black, rum, fruit… the name varies according to the season or the island. Today, I’m calling this one ‘Shana’s Easter Fruitcake’, which seems to be my customers’ favourite – and mine too.  

Recipe for a 10-inch cake

What you will need:
· 10” cake tin (round or square)
· Electric mixer
· Blender
· Food scales
· Sieve
· Plastic spatula
· Large serving spoon
· Greaseproof paper
· Foil


· 10oz of soaked mixed fruit
· 10oz self-raising flour
· 10oz of softened margarine and some extra on the side, separate
· 10oz of brown caster sugar
· 5 eggs
· Gravy browning
· 1 tbsp of vanilla essence
· 1 level tbsp of mixed spices
· 2 teacups of dark rum, brandy or sherry

Pre-heat your oven to 160c / Gas 3. Grease your tin with the extra margarine, and line the bottom only with greaseproof paper. Crack your eggs into a small bowl with the vanilla essence. Blend your soaked fruit in the blender, and sieve your flour into a bowl with the mixed spices. Leave all this to one side for now.

Mix the margarine and sugar until well blended together and a little light in texture – not fluffy, as this is a heavier cake than a sponge. Once mixed, turn your mixer off and scrape any mixture from the sides into the centre of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on – on a medium speed – and add your eggs bit by bit until you have all your eggs in. The mixture may look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. Now add your flour, again bit by bit, using the large serving spoon. When all the flour is fully mixed in, add your fruit. You can do this all in one go on a medium speed. Now add your gravy browning; this is what gives the cake it’s deep, rich ‘black’ colour (which is actually brown). About 1/3 of the bottle will be enough. It really depends how dark you want your cake. No need to caramelise the sugar anymore (to get the black cake look)  – nor filling your kitchen with smoke!

Put the mixture into the tin, and into the preheated oven. Set the timer for 1hr 20mins.

When the timer goes off, check cake is cooked by placing a butter knife directly into the centre of the cake. If it comes out ‘wet’ the mixture is still uncooked, so slide the cake back into the oven for a further 15mins. Repeat the knife test if needed until the knife comes out dry.

Cool for 20mins before turning out onto a cooling rack. Once cooled right down, start to add your alcohol. This can be done from over a couple hours to a couple of days. The choice is yours.

Keep the cake wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil, in a container with a lid. It will keep moist and fresh for weeks… if it lasts that long, lol.

· Ready-made icing (1kg packet)
· Marzipan
· Apricot jam (or any smooth jam you have in the house)
· Icing sugar
· Rolling pin
· Pastry brush

Brush jam thinly and evenly over the top of the cake. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan. Using the base of the cake tin, cut around it to get the exact size of marzipan to cover the cake, repeat this for the icing also. Add Easter decorations for a festive touch.

Enjoy and happy baking!

Happy Easter from Shana of Christlike Creations: the maker of all things bright and beautiful.

Shana Dawn Lewis is mum to two amazing kids, Talia-Jordan (23) and Corban-Jeremiah (17). She lives in Hackney, east London, and works from home, creating and baking bespoke celebration cakes, as well as ‘homely’ traditional all-time favourites. Shana is writing her first book called ‘God, all I wanted to do was make cakes’, which centres around how she has bounced back from having had five brain operations, and how she had to learn to walk, talk and use her hands again properly to make cakes for celebrities. Her faith was tested to the limit, but never doubted God would bring her through it all.  

You can find her on Facebook and Instagram: Christlike Creations

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