Gran's Boiled Fruit Cake for Lincoln Heritage Food Festival

11th May 2019 sees the first ever Heritage Food Festival in Lincoln.

 I am delighted to be involved in this exciting event, part of the wider “Bricks and Bones Community Heritage and Archaeology Initiative.

The festival takes place at the historic 12th century St Mary’s Guildhall on Sibthorp Street, Lincoln on Saturday 11th May, 10am – 4pm. It promises to be a wonderful celebration of food, history and heritage. This one day festival offers the chance to see a Traditional Smokehouse, have a tour of the beautiful Guildhall, see the results of the Wigford Big Dig, have a look at Roman Cookery, Medieval Ceramics and Food, enjoy Tudor Food Demonstrations, Portuguese Food Heritage and come and say hello and see my display of rare “Pots and Pans Material Culture Through the Ages” and have a go at making your own edible Tudor Rose to take home. 

An exciting highlight of the day and as an avid recipe and cookbook collector, is very close to my heart is “The Great Family Recipe Share” and “Family Favourites Cookery Competition”. Bring along a written copy of your favourite family recipe between 11am and 1pm, you can use the sheet below if you wish. Don’t forget to bring your mobile phone too, so you can take pics of everyone’s cherished recipes, I shall be busy making my own record of your recipes for my collection and to recreate.

 If you’re feeling competitive you can make your favourite family dish at home and bring it along to enter it into the competition. Entries need to be in by 2 pm and submitted with a full list of the ingredients and a copy of the recipe. There’s an adult and children’s category and prizes for the winners are up for grabs! So, get those spoons and aprons at the ready……Judging takes place between 2pm and 3pm, with winners announced at 3pm. I cannot wait! 

If all the foodie dishes, demos and recipes make you hungry on the day, sustenance is on hand with Teas, Coffees and a Charity Cake Stall and Curry Jacks will be there between 11am and 2pm. 

The Lincoln Heritage Food Festival is such fun and terrific way for our communities and families to be able to share our food heritage and recipes and a rare opportunity to see St Mary’s Guildhall and local food, history and heritage initiatives brought together in one great event. For further information visit or email 

In the spirit of “The Great Family Recipe Share”, here is my family recipe for “Boiled Fruit Cake”, that was handed down to me from my Gran. The beauty of this recipe is its sheer simplicity, there’s nothing fancy about it – just a good old-fashioned tasty cake, made with store cupboard ingredients. It’s delicious as it is, personally I like it spread with butter and topped with a good Red Leicester Cheese, as you would with a Plum Loaf.

This was actually the first recipe I wrote for my Lincolnshire Echo and Target column, which unbelievably is six years ago now. It proved very popular with readers then, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you again.

The “Boiled Cake” recipe (as shown in the photo) was scribbled down decades ago on a bit of card, now covered in years of baking splodges and crumbs, tangible evidence and testament to its popularity and reliability. Unassumingly tucked inside a Victorian Warnes’s Everyday Model Cookery Book, along with more hand written recipes for Elderberry Cordial, Gingerbread and Bramble Vinegar. I’m not sure how long this recipe has been made in my family, but most recipes have generally been around far far longer than when they first appeared in print or a written record was made of them.

I’ve doubled up the ingredients, from the original recipe, as it is just as easy to make two as it is one and the cake freezes very well.

I hope to see you at the first ever Lincoln Food Heritage Festival and see what family recipes you bring along on the day. To those of you entering the competition, I wish you the best of luck!

Gran’s Boiled Fruit Cake

Makes two loaf cakes. Two x 2lb loaf tins, greased and lined. Tins are (8 ½ inches/22cm long x 5 inches/12cm wide x 2 ½ inches/7cm deep).


1/2 pint/300ml Water

12 oz/350g Mixed Dried Fruit 

8 oz/225g Sugar (Doesn’t matter what sort)

8 oz/225g Butter or Marg

2 Beaten Eggs

1lb/450g S/R Flour



1. Put fruit, water, sugar and butter/marg in a large saucepan.

2. Melt it all slowly together, stirring, until sugar has dissolved, and the fruit has plumped up a bit. You don’t want to be boiling it as the recipe name suggests.

3. Take off heat and leave to cool for ten minutes. 

4. Pre heat your oven to 325f/Gas Mark 3/170c in a fan oven.

5. When fruit mixture is cool enough not to scramble your eggs, mix in the flour and eggs until well combined and divide between the two tins.

6. Bake on centre shelf of preheated oven, for approximately 45 minutes. Will be golden brown when done, and skewer comes out clean when inserted into centre of the cake to test.

Sadie Hirst is a multi-award-winning artisan baker and avid collector of Lincolnshire recipes and cookbooks from the past. She works with many community groups with her food history presentations, historical cookery workshops and demonstrations. Visit Sadie’s new website for further details You can contact her Twitter Sadie Hirst@sadiemhirst Instagram Sadie Hirst@sadiehirst 



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