700 Miles for Cake?

Apricot, Plum & Almond Cake So Good It Needed to Be Recreated Up and Down the Nation

It all started with an impromptu cuppa at The Olive Tree Cafe two weeks ago. My weakness is always right there for all to see in either one of those two cake stands on the counter. This is where you'll find their classic jam and buttercream sponge, lime and coconut sponge and Weller's apple and blackberry sponge to name just a few of my favourites.








But on this day there was a new danger and it was so far up my particular street there was no room for a u-turn. I give you Gill's

Apricot, Plum & Almond Cake.

It needs it's own line. It really does. All three excellent flavours combined into a moist sponge cake with a hint of chewiness from the slightly caramelised plums and texture from the almonds. Not to mention the apricot jam oozing out of the middle with the buttercream. Anyway, of course I had to have a piece, telling myself I would share it with my four year old (now I think about it, the 1/4 width slice I gave him may be where he researched his definition of sharing. Do as I say and all that..?) and he had been promised a treat. I took a not-very-flattering photo of the oozy deliciousness and posted it to Instagram Stories, where it very quickly gained plenty of love and envy despite my photography skills. 

Now, I'm originally from Cornwall, at the diametrically opposite end of the UK, and two friends there saw the post and asked me if I might beg, borrow or - if necessary - steal the recipe from Gill as nearly 700 miles in the middle of the pandemic was a bit far to travel for cake, even for them. I imagined the knowledge behind such a cake might be a closely guarded secret, something akin to the original recipe for the digestive biscuit which, legend has it, Alexander Grant traveled with on the train between the two McVitie's factories in London and Edinburgh, never removing it from his person (more on this in the Heritage Centre if you're interested). So with thoughts of subterfuge, I nervously messaged Gill to ask if she might consider sharing the recipe with these distant Cornish cake-bakers. 'Yes! How lovely!' was the immediate reply, along with the hand-typed recipe. 

So that is how two of the best bakers I know west of the Tamar (or west of anywhere really) set to work on a recipe from one of the best in the north. I give you the versions from Barbara Tamblyn, life-long baker of Botelet and fount of all traditional Cornish baking knowledge including such specialities as pasties and clotted cream-making, and Lucy Newman, another life-long baker and former owner of the fantastic Courtyard Cafe in Looe, Cornwall where the crab sandwiches were worth a detour of counties and the cake stands groaned under the weight of such deliciousnesses as her own speciality, chocolate and beetroot cake. Below left is Lucy's mid-way through being devoured and right is Barbara and her version.

Gill's Apricot, Plum & Almond Cake: The Recipe

10oz salted butter (softened)

10oz caster sugar

10oz self raising flour

5 eggs

1 heaped tsp baking powder

1 heaped tsp vanilla essence

1 heaped tsp almond essence

Dash of milk

Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl

Line and paper 2 cake tins and into each tin, sprinkle an even layer of flaked almonds & then add 2 heaped tbsp of light soft brown sugar and spread evenly on top of the almonds to create a layer of sugar. Slice the plums and spread over the sugar in both tins. Divide the cake mix between the two tins and cook at 180 degrees fan for approx. 25 minutes.

Once cool, sandwich the two sponges together with vanilla butter icing and apricot jam.

You're Welcome! 

This post is from Oct 2020. Gill & Weller's Olive Tree Cafe has now changed hands and is The Cafe at Logie Steading, run by Mags and Robbie Cairns (Feb 2022). This delicious cake still bakes just as well as when it was on Gill's menu!

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700 Miles for Cake?

Terms & Conditions for fishing on Logie Estate

  1. Fishing on the river is restricted to 2 rods per beat and is to be by fly only. All fishing is from the right bank. By arrangement with the neighbouring estate there is no left bank fishing on the Relugas Middle and Top beats.
  2. The fishing is split into two 2 rod beats, Logie and Relugas, with Relugas sub divided into Middle and Top.  Beats can be taken together or separately. Logie is fished Monday to Saturday, Relugas Middle on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Relugas Top on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Beats change at midnight.
  3. Fishermen must contact Logie Estate office on 01309 611300 a day or so before arrival to organise being shown onto the river. A map of pools, beats and access routes will be provided.
  4. Bio-security is important to the future of the river and anglers are asked to observe protection measures. The Findhorn District Fishery Board Conservation Code will be strictly observed. To summarise: All fish caught up to 14th May inclusive must be released. From 15th May, all salmon over 9 lbs / 4 kg / 28 inches / 72 cm are to be returned.  Below that measurement at least 70% of salmon and 50% of grilse caught should be released and a maximum of 1 salmon and / or 2 grilse per rod per week may be retained. In September all fish are to be returned. No gaffs or tailers are allowed.
  5. The Findhorn District Fishery Board Bio-security measures will be strictly observed and all fishermen in the party must sign the Bio-security Declaration. (Also available at http://www.fnlft.org.uk/downloads/)
  6. The Estate recommends that barbless hooks are used, fishermen are in possession of a disgorger and that knotless nets are used. All possible care should be taken when returning fish to the river, they should be handled as little, and gently, as possible and should not be removed from the water.
  7. The catch should be reported at the end of each day of fishing to Logie Estate Office on 01309 611300. If the office is closed, please leave a message on the answering machine with the date, weight and pool. Please also report a nil catch day.
  8. Dogs are allowed on the river but must be kept strictly under control at all times. The Estate reserves the right to ask tenants to remove dogs if they are considered to be out of control.
  9. Rod, line and fly size are dependent on prevailing weather and water conditions and personal choice. In general, maximum rod length needed is 13ft with a size 8 or 9 line, usually floating. Fly sizes range from 6 – 8 in the spring down to 12 or less in summer low water.
  10. Safety must be considered at all times. All beats have a variety of pools with some suitable for most heights of water. Little wading is necessary and river paths are good however the fishing is within the Findhorn gorge, access to some of the pools is quite steep and a degree of rock scrambling is often necessary when playing and landing fish. Please be aware that a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required. A buoyancy aid for each rod is provided and should be collected from Logie Estate Office on arrival, and returned to the Estate Office (or to the outbuilding opposite if office is closed) on departure. Logie Estate strongly recommends that buoyancy aids are worn when fishing and not doing so is entirely at fishermen’s own risk. Please pay attention at all times, avoid slips and falls, wear appropriate footwear, look out for overhead electricity lines, watch the weather and pay attention to livestock. Take extra care if fishing alone.
  11. Anglers need to supply or hire their own equipment (except buoyancy aids, which are provided).
  12. Ghillieing/tuition is available by on a first come, first served basis. This must be booked in advance with the Estate Office and is subject to availability. A half day ghillieing/tuition is approx. 3 hours, full day approx. 6 hours. Please contact the estate office or check our website for current rates. Rates do not include discretionary tips.
  13. Rod, Reel & Line hire is available by on a first come, first served basis. This must be booked in advance with the Estate Office and is subject to availability. Please contact the estate office or check our website for current rates. A rod, reel and line set is for one person and is subject to a fully refundable damage deposit of £100.
  14. Aside from fishermen, others, including rafters and kayakers, enjoy this stretch of river and mutual respect and consideration is expected.
  15. Bookings are confirmed when initial payment is received. Subsequent changes in dates or number or rods are entirely subject to the Estate’s discretion and to availability. Change of dates, if accepted, incur an administration fee. In the event of a cancellation the tenant must advise Logie Estate immediately, whereupon Logie will endeavour to re-let. If a new tenant can be found the deposit will be returned less any expenses incurred for advertising, office costs, etc., and less any shortfalls in discounted list price. Until such time as a vacancy has been re-let the hirer is responsible for making any further payment by the due dates. Failure to do so may mean that the hirer forfeits any refund if the dates are re-let. If it is not possible to re-let, all payments are still payable by the due date(s). It is unlikely that a refund can be made for a late cancellation. Logie Estate recommends that fishermen take out relevant cancellation insurance.
  16. Subletting fishing is only allowed with Logie Estate’s permission.
  17. Logie Estate reserves the right to immediately withdraw fishing without compensation from anyone who breaks these or associated conditions, or flouts normal standards of behaviour or fishing etiquette.