April 27, 2015

Albert Ball’s ‘Ripping’ Plum Cake

"I love to take a huge piece with me when I fly"

By In Recipes
I caught the end of a piece on Radio 4’s Today program a few days ago where they detailed a World War I fighter pilots love of his familys fruit cake. The Royal Air Force Museum teamed up with students from Barnet and Southgate College to re-develop the age-old Ball family recipe for plum cake, recently discovered by Albert Ball’s great niece while clearing out her grandmother’s house in Nottingham. This is my tribute to all killed during the war.

Albert Ball’s ‘Ripping’ Plum Cake

The legendary English fighter pilot Albert Ball was one of the most iconic heroes of the sky during the First World War. His bravery saw him awarded the Victoria Cross (posthumously), the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross. By the time of his death in May 1917, the young man from Nottingham was the country’s leading flying ace, with 44 victories to his name.

Ball has since become one of the most famous names from the air war of the First World War. But one little known fact was that he always flew with his mother’s home-made plum cake on board his aircraft and he requested it many times in his letters home.

plum-cake-1

To his mother he wrote: “You make me a cake, and I would like it all the more. I so love to have a huge piece of cake to go flying with in the morning. It is fine, and if made by you would be better still.“

To his sister he wrote: “I was so pleased to get your ripping cake, but I have nearly finished it. I love to take a huge piece with me when I fly.”

 

Albert Ball’s ‘Ripping’ Plum Cake
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 225g caster sugar
  2. 225g softened butter
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 225g sieved plain flour
  5. 225g raisins
  6. 110g chopped dates
  7. 110g chopped prunes
Instructions
  1. Cream together the softened butter and caster sugar, slowly add the eggs.
  2. Fold through the flour and add the fruits a little at a time.
  3. Play a tray of water at the bottom of the oven to create moisture.
  4. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes at 160C.
  5. Test with a skewer - it should come out clean once cooked.
  6. I dusted with a little Demerara sugar once out of the oven and cooling.
Notes
  1. Ball has since become one of the most famous names from the air war of the First World War. But one little known fact was that he always flew with his mother’s home-made plum cake on board his aircraft and he requested it many times in his letters home.
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recipe for Albert Ball’s ‘Ripping’ Plum Cake

Albert Ball’s ‘Ripping’ Plum Cake

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3 Comments
  1. Meeta May 27, 2015

    What an awesome and touching story Andrew. I’ve saved this to make during plum season. Even heroes come back to cake in the end and no one makes it better than mama! Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
    • Andrew May 28, 2015

      Its a great story indeed, it is these little touches that remind me that the people were real and despite a hundred years of progress not so different at all from us.

      Reply
  2. Jeanne Horak-Druiff June 2, 2015

    What a poignant story (and what’s not to like about plum cake?!). Although I must confess that when I first saw the title my confused brain read “Albert’s ball-ripping plum cake” – which sounds frankly terrifying ;o)

    Reply

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