The art of baking

Cranberry, orange and walnut cake by Carol Kearns

Cranberry, orange and walnut cake by Carol Kearns - Credit: Carol Kearns

Known as The Cake Lady when a mature student at Norwich University of the Arts, Carol Kearns of Wymondham combines a love of baking with a talent for illustration WORDS AND ILLUSTRATIONS: CAROL KEARNS

When I was a child, the only part of my mum’s Christmas fruit cake I ever ate was the marzipan! I much preferred the Yule log, made from a shop bought chocolate Swiss roll and decorated with chocolate buttercream icing, a plastic robin and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

While I’m still not a fan of Christmas cake, I’ve outgrown my taste for anything shop-bought. At this time of year I look for recipes that, while having a Christmassy feel, are a bit lighter than the traditional fruit cake. This cranberry, orange and walnut cake fits the bill perfectly - making it just right for serving in the run up to Christmas.

This cake is delicious as it is, but if you want to add to its attractions you can drizzle some melted chocolate across the top - I like to use an orange-flavoured chocolate (either dark or milk) followed by some melted white chocolate. If I’m decorating the cake in this way, I also like to substitute four tablespoons of orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier) for the orange juice in the recipe.

Cranberry, orange and walnut cake


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1 orange

100g dried, sweetened cranberries

85g butter

150g-175g ripe bananas, peeled weight (about two medium bananas)

140g caster sugar

2 medium eggs, beaten

1 tsp orange extract

250g self-raising white flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g walnut pieces, chopped

You will need:

A 2lb/900g loaf tin

Non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper

Wooden or metal skewer

Makes 8-10 slices


1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark four. Lightly grease and line the loaf tin, or pop in a liner.

2 Finely grate the zest of the orange into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the orange and put the juice into a small saucepan with the cranberries. Bring to the boil and then simmer for two to three minutes, stirring continuously, until the cranberries have plumped up and the orange juice has evaporated. Place into a small bowl to cool.

3 In the same saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Set aside to cool.

4 Add the bananas to the mixing bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Add the sugar, eggs, cooled melted butter and orange extract and stir well.

5 Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda over the banana mixture and fold in. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.

6 Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7 Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack.

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