I’m sure Mum would have gotten this recipe from Mrs Wood to bake cakes to send over to Dad in England during WW2. Mrs Wood was Mum’s sister’s mother-in-law. She was a wonderful cook and I can remember visiting her house in East Malvern where there would always be plates of biscuits and freshly baked cake for afternoon tea. The Soldier’s Cake Tins referred to were used to bake a cake in to be sent overseas to the troops. The tins came with a lid so the cakes were baked then sealed to be sent off. Cake shops also sold fruit cakes that fitted into the special “Willow” cake tins. Fruit cakes with brandy were usually the cakes made this way as the brandy stopped the cake going mouldy during the time it took to reach the soldiers, wherever they were serving.

Mrs Wood's Xmas Cakes


  • 500g butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 500g castor sugar
  • 500g plain flour
  • 125g Self Raising Flour
  • 1kg sultanas
  • 500g raisins
  • 250g currants
  • 125g mixed peel
  • 60g almonds
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon carb soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

Combine the fruit and brandy, leave overnight to marinate. Beat the butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time. Add sifted flours and spices. Add fruit and nuts. Combine boiling water and carb soda and mix in well. Bake in prepared tins – 3 hours, turn after 1½ hours. Soldier tins measured 7½ inches = approx 20cm. So the mixture makes 2 x 20cm cakes – the ingredients can be halved for 1 cake.

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