If you are looking for a gorgeous gift or just a treat for yourself you cannot go wrong with one of Jane’s handmade traditional fruit cakes.
Why did you start making fruit cakes? What did you do before?
The story began when I was growing up at home with Mum and Dad, my brother and three sisters. There was always plenty of activity in the kitchen with a big family to feed; lots of home-grown fruit made its way into puddings and pies and stood bottled in glistening rows on the marble larder shelves.
Everyone rolled up their sleeves, donned an apron and got stuck in. Each year, I made a rich fruit cake for Christmas and it quickly became a family favourite. Before long the cake’s reputation had spread and I regularly made fruit cakes for friends and relatives Christmas’s, their Weddings and Christenings too. Over the years, I perfected my recipe, adding ingredients and tweaks to make it my own. The Tipple Tails cake recipe is just the same, but made even more delicious and unique by the unusual boozy infusions I use to feed them.
I trained as a Home Economist at Birmingham College of Food & worked in marketing & sales for Zanussi (The Appliance of Science) for many years, developing & promoting oven ranges through cookery demonstrations, writing cookery books & instruction books & liaising with customers. I moved to Sheffield just over fifteen years ago, trained in horticulture at Sheffield College, & worked for the National Trust at Clumber Park in the kitchen garden for a while, becoming very involved in everything food, especially locally produced!
Then I spent five years working as a Project Manager on the Lottery funded Making Local Food Work project in a partnership of six organisations http://www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk; where my role was to develop a toolkit for members of the national co-operative Country Markets to enable them to sell their homemade food products into retail outlets. During that time, I was also a producer for Sheffield Country Market, making all sorts of products but especially Yorkshire Teacakes, Yorkshire Curd Tarts, ‘Well baked Puddings’ (my version of the Bakewell Pudding) & at Christmas a very popular Christmas Cake.
How does the business run?
It’s just me at the moment, although, pre-pandemic, I had outsourced the baking of my larger fruit cakes. It is a home-based business; I have a lovely farmhouse kitchen which is registered with the council as as all my children have flown the nest I have a home office and storage in one of the spare bedrooms.
What is your personal favourite fruit cake that you make?
That is difficult – I love the Cherry Orchard and the Total Fruit Cake, but I am very, very proud of the exotic Coco Bazaar as it is a unique recipe!
What do you love about making your fruit cakes?
The smell of butter and brown sugar when I am making them, but more importantly being able to source lovely, high quality ingredients from local producers.
Do you have any favourite bits of kit, or something that would make your life better/easier?
A silicone spatula – it gets all the cake batter out of the mixing bowl – don’t want to waste any of it!
What is your favourite music to listen to while baking?
I like listening to Jo Whiley on Radio 2.
How did the Coronavirus affect you and your business?
At first, I thought that my business would close as all my spring events were cancelled – the mainstay of the business at that time of year. But then my online sales took off and since then, as the bakery closed and then reopened with reduced capacity, I have been busy baking, packing and sending out fruit cake gifts for all sorts of occasions. It has been especially moving writing messages from families to elderly relatives in care homes. And of course, everyone still has birthdays or needs a teatime treat to cheer them up.
How did you get involved with Sheffield Made?
I’ve known Sophie for a while now, so she knows my products and asked if I would like to get involved.