During the recent school holidays number one son James headed off to Disney World with his wife Karen and two very excited boys aged seven and five. He’s the computer wizz behind Café Cat, making sure that subscribers get their weekly recipe.

When James & Co go away we look after Hershey, their bouncy chocolate labrador and when we go away they look after Danske, our ivory-coloured golden retriever. A reciprocal arrangement which works well. Hershey doesn’t have to be here long for the contents of our vacuum cleaner to change from cream coloured hairs to a perfect cappuccino mix of the two!

Hermits are spicy, slightly salty little cakes which originate in Canada. James is very fussy particular when it comes to cakes, but as I mixed them I thought they would be right up his alley, though he would prefer them without the nuts.  Unfortunately they were all gone by the time he got back.


1½ cups plain flour
1½ cups self-raising wholemeal flour
1 egg
½ cup olive oil or melted butter
½ cup plain yoghurt
1/3 cup molasses or treacle
½ cup milk
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup brown sugar
½ tsp each cinnamon, salt, ground cloves & nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup raisins or sultanas
½ cup walnuts or pecan nuts (optional)
To finish:
icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease a 20-22cm square cake pan or a small slice/slab tin and line with non-stick paper. A Lamington tin is perfect. Place all ingredients except fruit and nuts in food processor and mix well, stopping after a minute to scrape down the sides. Add fruit and nuts and process briefly, just to mix.

Scrape mixture into tin and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Don’t overcook – the cakes should be soft and chewy in the middle like chocolate brownies. How long they take will depend on the size of your tin. Cool then cut into squares or rectangles and dust with icing sugar.

Makes 16-20

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