Sally Wise’s Blog

Sally Wise portrait (credit Veronica Youd) sml

 Sally is a best-selling Author of 13 cookbooks, including her gluten-free cookbook “From My Kitchen to Yours”.

 Sally operates a small cooking school in the idyllic Derwent Valley in Tasmania and she is passionate about creating nutritional, additive free food from fresh, seasonal produce




It’s that time of the year again when the happy hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations fills the air.  However, I often hear people lamenting the fact that they have left making the Christmas cake until too late, the Christmas pudding also, not to mention fruit mince tarts, all the usual suspects to grace their festive table.

I have to say that I am one of those who tend to leave things until almost past the last minute, and so have devised some recue remedy recipes that can help save the day.  These are a far better option than buying the store-bought Christmas fare.

Once, during a radio segment in Tasmania, a very helpful listener rang in with a recipe for fruit mince muffins.  Not only are they very delicious, but also save all that palaver of making and rolling out pastry.  You could make them a couple of days beforehand and simply brush with milk and reheat at a low temperature for a few minutes in the oven, or about ten seconds each in the microwave.  I have played with the recipe to add a little extra flavor.  I find them to be really successful.

Not done your Christmas pudding yet?  Never mind, try the recipe to follow for a last minute pudding.  It’s really delicious served with a simple custard with a splash of brandy, whisky or rum added, alongside creamy vanilla ice cream.

As for Christmas cake – well, at this late stage, never despise the humble boiled fruit cake, made in a trice with a minimum of effort. To make this more festive, I add some glace pineapple and cherries along with a considerable amount of rum or brandy.

When it comes to gifts for family and friends, think about making some easy edible gifts such as coconut ice, rum balls, Rocky Road, White Christmas and truffles.  These can be packaged and presented prettily in a small hamper basket and are always well received.  Best of all, children can be involved in making and decorating these edible gifts – it helps them to understand that Christmas is a time for giving, thinking of people you love and preparing a gift from the heart, especially with the recipient in mind.

So for now, I hope that everyone has a happy, healthy and most of all, safe, festive season.

Basic Boiled Fruit Cake

Serves 8 to 10

  –  125g butter or margarine

–  1 cup sugar

–  1 teaspoon mixed spice

–  1 teaspoon cinnamon

–  1 cup water

–  ½ cup brandy or rum (or orange juice)

–  300g mixed dried fruit

–  60g diced glace pineapple

–  80g glace cherries

–  1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

–  2 eggs

–  1 cup plain flour

–  1 cup self raising flour

–  ½ cup flaked almonds

Place the butter, sugar, spices, water, mixed fruit, pineapple, cherries, bicarbonate of soda and brandy or rum or orange juice in a large saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for one minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn oven on to 160°C.  Grease a 20cm deep-sided round tin and line base with baking paper, grease again.

Whisk the eggs and add to the fruit mixture, then add the flours and flaked almonds and mix until well combined with a metal spoon.  Pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for approximately one to one and a half hours until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tin.

Fruit Mince Muffins

–  1 cup self raising flour

–  1½ cups plain flour

–  ¾ cup sugar

–  ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

–  ½ teaspoon mixed spice

–  ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

–  Grated rind 1 lemon

–  2 eggs

–  1 teaspoon vanilla essence

–  250ml milk

–  Juice 1 lemon

–  125g melted butter

–  1 cup fruit mince, approximately

Heat oven to 180°C.  Grease 10 to 12 muffin tins (or line with muffin papers)..

Mix together the flours, sugar, soda, spices and lemon rind.  Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, milk, lemon juice and butter, then mix into the flour mixture until well combined.

Half fill the muffin tins with one tablespoon of batter, then top with a scant tablespoon of fruit mince.  Cover with more of the batter until each is about ¾ full.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre.

 Steamed Fruit Pudding

To lengthen its shelf life, brush the entire pudding once it is cooled with brandy and wrap in foil.  Place in the fridge where it will then keep well for a week or more.

–  1 cup dried mixed fruit

–  ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

–  1 teaspoon mixed spice

–  ¾ cup milk

–  1 tablespoon butter

–  1 tablespoon marmalade

–  2 tablespoons grated apple

–  1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

–  ¼ cup brandy

–  1 cup self raising flour

Spray a 4 cup capacity pudding basin with cooking spray (or grease).  Cut a small circle to fit base of basin and place inside, spray or grease over this.

Place the dried fruit, sugar, mixed spice, milk, butter, marmalade and apple in a medium saucepan.  Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer for one minute.  Remove from heat, stir in the bicarbonate of soda and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Fold in the brandy and self raising flour until well combined.  Pour into pudding basin, cover with two thicknesses of foil and tie a piece of string around outer rim of basin to ensure a good seal.

Place basin in cooker and pour boiling water around it until it reached two thirds of the way up the basin.  Place lid on cooker and cook on High for 3½  hours.   Remove from cooker and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  Serve each portion with brandy custard, which can be made as follows:

–  2 cups milk

–  ½ cup sugar

–  2 tablespoons cornflour

–  2 egg yolks, whisked

–  1 to 2 tablespoons brandy

Place the milk, sugar and cornflour in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly; cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the egg yolks and brandy.



Until next time…Sally


Click here to purchase Sally’s  new cookbook “A Kitchen in the Valley” (you will be taken to the ABC shop website)

Click here to purchase Sally’s gluten free cookbook “From My Kitchen to Yours” (you will be taken to the ABC shop website)

Click here to read more about Sally

Click here to read our Editor’s interview with Sally

Click here for Sally’s recipes