Born as the Second World War came to an end, Liz Hancock remembers all too well the terrible rationing that England - like so many countries - faced.
"Some say [it was] worse than during the war and almost everything was not available at all or on short supply," she recounted.
"I remember the lines for bread, and when sugar finally came off the list, I was given sixpence, and with the boy next door - who was older than me - we went up to the corner shop and bought a bag of broken cookies. A real treat," said Hancock, a writer, artist, environmentalist, and teacher of sustainable living who pens the monthly River Talk column for The TIMES.
Despite the hardships of the era, her mother always produced a Christmas cake, which Hancock said must top her all-time bill of Christmas favourites.
"She would save up her ration of sugar, sultanas, and dried fruit about the beginning of December, and there was always an icing-covered fruit cake on the table for Christmas Day tea," Hancock explained.
"So here, from her Radiation Cookery Book, which was passed from her mother to her, and then to me at my marriage in 1968, I set below the family Christmas cake recipe."
Christmas fruit cake
¾ lb. butter or margarine
¾ lb. brown sugar
1 lb. flour (self raising or plain with 2 tsp. baking powder)
1 lb. sultanas
1 lb. of currants
¼ lb. raisins
6 oz. of candied peel
2 oz. cherries
¼ lb. chopped almonds
2 tbsp. of dark treacle
½ tsp. of mixed spices
1 glass of brandy (optional)
Almond paste and Royal icing to cover the cake.
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Add eggs one at a time (add a little of the flour to stop it from curdling). Beat until the mixture is stiff.
Stir in remainder of the flour and all other ingredients. Mix well, and transfer to a spring pan lined with baking paper which has been greased. Cook for 6 hours at mark one. Keep the cake for at least three weeks before eating.
You can have the option of putting Almond paste and Royal icing on it, but I just like the cake by itself. -Enjoy!