The kitchen is at the heart of the Charterhouse and the care it provides. Every day the team prepares breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and supper for our residents and meals are enjoyed communally in the Great Hall as they would have been in Tudor times. During the Charterhouse’s time as a medieval monastery the monks would have eaten alone and there were two kitchens; one which catered for the monks who had a very simple diet of vegetables and occasionally fish, and another which catered for visitors for whom meat was served. As an almshouse the provision of meals has always been central to our story and purpose, and today our Head Chef Mauricio manages a busy team of 14 people to cater for residents, staff and visitors and special events. He has worked in the kitchen for nearly 25 years (and also met his wife here!), so has seen a lot of changes including the way we eat which is reflected in the menu created for residents to choose from.
We will be sharing more stories and recipes from the kitchen, but we are starting with one of Mauricio’s favourites, his Fruit Cake recipe which is a perfect treat for the winter months.
Rich Fruit Cake*
475g Mixed dried fruits and candied peel (can be marinated in alcohol of your choice e.g. Bandy or Whisky in advance)
35g Glace cherries
50g Ground almonds
120g Plain flour
120g Soft dark brown muscovado sugar
120g Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3g Mixed spice
1g Sea salt
Zest and juice of half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 140°C (285°F) and line a 22cm round baking tin with a double layer of greaseproof parchment paper.
- Clean and prepare the fruit and halve the cherries.
- Mix all the prepared fruit and peel together with the lemon juice, zest and alcohol if using and the mixture can be left for one week in advance of making the cake covered in a sealed container. If you are choosing to marinate the dried fruit and peel in alcohol, you will need to do this in advance of making the cake. Mauricio marinated the dried fruit and peel in Amontillado Sherry for just under 3 weeks.
- Sift the flour and spice together in a bowl and add the salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until aerated, soft and light.
- Gradually fold in the eggs.
- Fold in the ground almonds and then the dry flour, spices and salt mixture.
- Add the fruit with the liquid and mix well together.
- Transfer to the baking tin and bake for 2 – 3 ½ hours, it will be baked when a knife or skewer comes out clean.
- Leave in the tin for 20 minutes after removing from the oven before turning onto a baking rack to cool. The cake will keep for up to three weeks in an air-tight container kept in the fridge but leave out to serve at room temperature.
Enjoy an indulgent treat or as part of afternoon tea.
*Allergy note: recipe contains wheat, dairy, nuts, eggs and sulphites.