Mrs Robins’ Fruit Cake









Years ago, when I lived in Sheep Country, I belonged, thanks to Husband Number Two, to the Austin Healey Club. Through that group I made many friends, including Tarn and Fit, with whom I still keep in touch, mainly through Christmas Cards and occasionally with visits.

I met Dianne Jones, a great cake baker. We didn’t keep in touch but her typewritten, much smeared recipe is in my recipe folder along with many others shared with people who, like myself, love to cook. There were always home made cakes in the Jones household and in particular there was a wonderful Bara Brith (fruit loaf) that was served buttered and could not be eaten by the single slice.

Dianne was tragically diagnosed with an auto immune attack on her liver. I don’t know what has happened to her, but every time I bake this cake, I think of her and wonder.

This weekend I decided to sort out my ‘Baking Cupboard’ which was overflowing with so many bags and packets they rained down on anyone who opened the door. Onto the counter I gathered currants, raisins, sultanas, goji berries, glace cherries, dried apricots, ground almonds, crystalised ginger and more. Mrs Robins’ Fruitcake sprung to mind and I weighed the fruit and ginger, multiplied up the other ingredients and made 4 loaves of Bara Brith. Half of one was immediately devoured by Whizz and Mavis and pronounced good.

So here is the recipe, in the hope that Dianne has overcome her illness and with fond memories of irresponsible days B.C. (Before Children).

Mrs Robins Fruit Cake


4 oz margarine or butter

6 oz granulated sugar

6oz currants

6oz raisins

2oz chopped peel

1 cup/8 fl oz water

1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 heaped tsp ground mixed spice

2 beaten eggs

4oz self raising flour

4oz plain flour

pinch salt


  1. place margarine, sugar, fruit, peel, water, bi-carb and mixed spice into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Allow to cool.
  2. Line a 1lb loaf tin.
  3. Beat eggs, flours and salt into the cooled mixture and pour into tin.
  4. Bake in middle of oven, gas 4/350F/180C for one to one and a half hours until a skewer poked into the middle comes out dry.
  5. Cool in tin then turn out. Improves with time so if you can resist, keep it overnight before cutting. I never manage this!

35 Responses

  1. When my dear old nan died I thought her famous boiled fruit cake recipe died with her. I remember with fondness making this cake with her and she would always say ‘thanks to good old Mrs Robins’ when I discovered you had posted this recipe I was amazed. It was how I remembered it all those years ago but I just could not remember the measures. Thank you so so much it is exactly how I remembered it as a child. I wonder where Mrs Robins came from and if she would smile at the fact her recipe lives on. I have already shared with many friends.
    ‘Good old Mrs Robins’
    Jane from Plymouth Devon

  2. I am so delighted to hear from you, Jane. I wonder if anyone else remembers this recipe and has more of a clue to the identity of its namesake.

  3. I have made many of these cakes, over the years, for both Christmas and Birthday presents. What’s not to like about something so good that even a man in his 70s can cook it!! Of course, a slight change in the recipe (practiced over the years) such as leaving the fruit in a touch of brandy helps, adding more glace cherries, doubling the recipe and making a cake twice the size, pricking the top of the finished article and adding brandy that way, also gives the cake a wonderful Christmas flavour!

  4. Thanks for your enhancements, Don. I very much approve, and as long as Mrs Robins wasn’t a Quaker, I’m sure she would too.

  5. Does Mrs Robins fruitcake keep as long as a traditional fruit cake?

  6. I have been making this cake since 1975 and never had a failure, it is from Yorkshire Televisions ‘Farmhouse Kitchen’ recipe book, I make this for my Xmas cake I just replace half the water with Rum or Brandy. I always add a t.spoon of black treacle and use dark muscavado sugar which makes a lovely dark cake.

  7. I have made this cake many many times …the recipe is in the complete Farmhouse Kitchen cook book 1984 from the Yorkshire TV programme. The recipe suggests topping with sherry butter icing. 4oz butter or Marg. 8oz sifted icing sugar. 2tbsp sherry.

  8. I always slice and butter but I love the idea of sherry butter icing. Thanks Gee, or should I say Gee thanks.

  9. I have the original book from the TV series, which I bought when I got married 31 years ago. There are many great recipes in it but this is one of the greatest. I always make it with butter not marge, and put a tiny bit more spice in. Also you can make twice, thrice or even four times the amount, adjusting the cooking time and cooking at about Gas 2 for the second half of the cooking so it doesn’t burn. So I’ve used it for huge party cakes as well as everyday fruit cake.

  10. My mother bought me the book based on the TV program way back, actually I think it was the microwave one. The following year she sent me the hardback version and I’ve used it ever since. It takes me back to my childhood and this fruit cake is one of my favourites. I wouldn’t be without it for anything.

  11. I’m so looking forward to making this cake .lt appears fool
    Proof will let you know how I get on

  12. My mother taught me to make this lovely fruit cake when I was 11/12 years old , I’m still making it now at 45 , intending to make it for friends this Easter. Mum got the recipe from the farmhouse cook book too which I know she still has tucked in a drawer somewhere. long live the fruit cake recipe Mrs Robins!

  13. Mrs robinson was a cook in the women’s land army and she ran a hostel in the war with a mrs keep. I have made her fruit cake for over 30 years and it’s still a favourite. I too found it in farmhouse cookbook never changed the recepie .

  14. So happy to know this, Jean. Thank you for sharing. Was she Mrs Robinson, or Mrs Robins?

    I made the cake tonight for my hubby’s birthday. I recon I have been making it for 30 – 40 years too.

  15. Sorry sue it is Mrs Robins my auto spell extended, since found out that she was also a member of the WI. We have a guest from New Zealand made it for her arrival. She loved it and is taking home the recipe.

  16. Been making this cake for years, but have never cooked it for 1.5 hours! Adjust the timing for the tin – sometimes I use a square and sometimes a loaf tin. Also, if you boil the fruit last thing at night and finish in the morning the soaked fruit has plumped up even more. (Try an addition of cranberries and/or chopped dried apricots).

  17. So pleased to have found this online. I have hunted high and low for my Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook. Its lost both its covers where its so well used that I fear someone threw it away. You have answered my prayers for this recipe.

  18. Well what can I say. I used to have the book but think it got lost in a move quite a few years ago. Have looked for this recipe before to no avail so really pleased to have found it today. Tried other recipes but not quite the same. Thanks a million Sue, cake now in the oven.

  19. I replace 3/4 of the water with cold tea and the other 1/4 with brandy.

  20. I had the Farmhouse Kitchen Microwave Cookbook and have made Mrs Robin’s Cake for years, I buy already soaked mixed fruit (From Lidl). I cannot find my book, So went onto and found it on there, So pleased because I usually use this recipe for Christmas cakes for myself and I make for my family.

  21. The sugar should be dark brown sugar to the recipe and brown self raising flour but works well with white and it’s from farmhouse cookbook and it is Mrs Robinson cake ?

  22. Thanks Nicky. There’s a bit of a dispute here about the name.
    I always use wholemeal flour and sometimes dark muscovado sugar. Depends what I have in the cupboard. It tasts good whatever you do. Such a brilliant recipe.

  23. Dear OneandAll. Mrs Robin was my mother. My father was CofE Bishop of Adelaide. We lived in Adelaide 1941-1956 and some of us even live in Oz to this day. My mother had the recipe from a good friend whose husband was Brigadier Blackburn and at the time PoW in a Japanese camp. (My brothers were all in love with one or other of their daughters.) We always called the recipe Mrs. Blackburn’s. NOW: My husband Graham Watts, and I created, produced and directed “Farmhouse Kitchen” for ITV countrywide – from Yorkshire Television’s studios in Leeds. Well over 200 programmes. Initially an Adult Education production it instantly gathered an enormous following. Mary Berry presented the first programme followed by Dorothy Sleightholme then Grace Mulligan. After the first programme the corridor passing our office was stacked daily for yards with big sacks of recipe requests + SAEs Never anticipated by Graham and me. He had to engage wives and mothers of our YTV colleagues (£10 a sack!) We HAD to begin the books. I edited them. AND YOU BOUGHT THEM! Thank you, OneandAll. Our niece-in-law found this website by chance and this is how I know you!

  24. Having just posted the story of Mrs. Robin’s (Boiled) Fruit Cake I realise I should have added that in the old days, particularly in hot climate places like Australia it was taken as normal to boil the fruit – to kill off the bugs!

  25. I have made and enjoyed this fruit cake for years my mum used it for Xmas cake so got to enjoy it every year
    Still make it for my Xmas cake

  26. We are in the process of moving house, when lockdown permits, and all my cookery books have been packed away and stored where I can’t get at them. This is my favourite recipe from the Yorkshire TV series books, so glad to have found it here. I was thinking of making something different but why bother when this cake is so good?

  27. Mary, this is amazing. I have emailed you with a plan and a request.

  28. Sue, I have received your email and written a reply but it just will not Send to that long long address. Could you have another go with a different email address, s.v.p? Mary – and you will see that our email address is changed

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