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How to make Winston Churchill's favourite fruit cake recipe for VE Day 75 from the National Trust

As the nation prepares to mark VE Day 75 next week, managers at Sir Winston Churchill's former home in Westerham are urging us to celebrate with a slice of something the man who led us to victory in Europe loved.

On Friday, May 8, the day will be a chance to remember the sacrifices made both at home and abroad and to celebrate the day 75 years ago that marked the end of the Second World War and peace in Europe.

Chartwell near Westerham was Churchill's family home
Chartwell near Westerham was Churchill's family home

Sir Winston Churchill coordinated the war effort from his Chartwell home at Westerham near Sevenoaks - now under the care of the National Trust and which today releases a recipe of the former Prime Minister’s favourite fruit cake for us all to celebrate with.

The recipe originates from one of his own personal, long-standing cooks, Georgina Landemare who catered for Winston, his family and any visiting delegates to Chartwell during the Second World War from 1939 throughout the war, until she retired in 1954.

According to Mrs Landemare, Churchill was an “incredibly fussy eater” but she was often able to produce something that satisfied his appetite for ‘simple’ British food.

During wartime rationing she used the most basic of ingredients but such was the impact of her cooking, on VE night Churchill thanked her for her efforts saying that he “could not have managed throughout the war without her cooking”.

Winston Churchill's fruit cake Picture: National Trust Images
Winston Churchill's fruit cake Picture: National Trust Images

Matt Drew, head of food & beverage, said: "Inspired by Mrs Landemere's original recipe, we have been able to create a fruit cake that excites our current tastes, whilst still reminiscent of the cake Churchill, his family and visitors would have enjoyed.

"For our visitors, not only are they experiencing the history behind this truly remarkable home, but they are also enjoying a slice of history by playing their part in helping to raise vital funds for our conservation work."

Rebecca Janaway, National Trust development chef said: "Although this recipe was a staple delight for Churchill, we want to encourage people at home to mark the occasion by recreating the fruit cake by using ingredients found at the back of their cupboards.

"For this recipe, why not add some different warming spices that you might already have hanging around, think aromatic not spicy – cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove and five spice all work nicely in this sort of cake."

View of the dining table and chairs in the Dining Room at Chartwell in 1927
View of the dining table and chairs in the Dining Room at Chartwell in 1927

If you don’t have any glacé cherries, you can use dried apricots or mixed nuts instead and although black treacle is used to add a rich darkness and flavour it is not essential to the recipe and will have a lighter finish without it.

View of the dining table and chairs in the Dining Room at Chartwell today Picture: National Trust Images/ Andreas von Einsiedel
View of the dining table and chairs in the Dining Room at Chartwell today Picture: National Trust Images/ Andreas von Einsiedel

The recipe ingredients: 225g butter; 170g dark brown sugar; 285g self-raising flour, 280g dried mixed fruit, 2 cups strong black tea, 5 eggs, 110g halved glacé cherries, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tbsp black treacle (optional)

To make: Preheat the oven to 150C. Soak the dried fruit in tea, preferably overnight. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, until almost white. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to cream together. Gradually beat the eggs in, remember to add a little flour to stop the mixture from splitting or curdling. Fold in the flour and add the mixed spice, then add the the mixed fruit and the glacé cherries and continue to fold together while adding the black treacle. Line and grease a cake tin, scrape the mixture in and bake for two hours. Check that the cake is cooked throughout before leaving to cool on a wire rack. Finish with a dusting of caster sugar.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

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