A taste of Patagonia

NS Christmas - Stephen Brasher, the NS's resident baker, cooks up a Patagonian treat

After 11 years helping NS readers on the subscriptions desk, I have somehow become the magazine's in-house cake-maker. My recipe book of choice is Bobby Freeman's Welsh Country Cakes and Buns, which, at £1.95, is a steal. You can't go wrong with these tried and tested recipes - I mean it as a compliment to say they are great, plain cakes, with no chocolate in sight. If you haven't already baked your cake for Christmas, you could do worse than this Patagonia Black Cake. Or you could leave it to mature for St David's Day. I made it with organic/Fairtrade ingredients wherever possible. You can even get the rum from the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. Iechyd da!

Patagonia Black Cake/ Cacen du Patagonia

- 10oz/275g butter; 10oz/275g dark brown sugar; 4 eggs; 1lb/450g plain flour; 1tsp cinnamon and mixed spice; 4oz/125g each of raisins, currants, sultanas, chopped almonds; 8oz/225g mixed peel; 1tsp bicarbonate of soda mixed into 1tbsp vinegar and 1tbsp water; 2tsp baking powder; 1tsp almond essence; small glass of rum

- Grease and line an 8in cake tin. Cream butter and sugar, add the lightly whisked eggs a little at a time and beat well. Fold in flour and spices, dried fruit and nuts. Pour in the liquid raising agent, add baking powder and almond essence; mix thoroughly. Lastly, stir in the rum. Bake on middle shelf at 325F/170C/gas mark 3 for 3-3.5 hours.

All Bobby Freeman's books are available from Y Lolfa (01970 832 304) or online at www.ylolfa.com