The icing on the cake


Julia roberts Although it is a very busy week at QVC for me this week, I'm on air six days out of seven, I don't mind at all. Why? Well I have just spent the last two evenings in the company of Marjolein Brugman and her fantastic creation the Pilates Performer.

It has made such a difference to my body, helping me to get back in shape over the last six months. If you ordered one this time with the great deal of 4 Easy Pay instalments plus free P&P, let me know how you get on. And don't be afraid to ask questions. If I don't know the answers I know a lady who does!

Tonight I have a double helping of Keeley from Elemis at 11pm and 1am. Even though the rain is pouring and it's cold, I will still be going out of the house with a smile of anticipation on my face because she is such a ray of sunshine. Plus, I think you'll also love tonight's TSV – party hair in seconds by Ken Paves.

Then 'the icing on the cake' for me is the Butler and Wilson TSV on Saturday at midnight with Simon Wilson, and two shows with him on Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled in advance as I will definitely wear it between now and Saturday!

Talking of the 'icing on the cake', in response to a couple of comments on my Cookie's Essential blog last week, here is my Christmas cake recipe:


  • 450g (1lb) mixed dried fruit
  • 60g (2oz) glace cherries, halved
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 140g (5oz) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 30g (1oz) ground almonds
  • 115g (4oz) soft dark brown sugar
  • 115g (4oz) margarine
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 3 medium free range eggs


1. Double line a 18cm (7") round cake tin with greaseproof paper and tie a double thickness of brown paper around the outside of the tin, making sure both lots of paper rise 7.5cm (3") above the rim of the tin.

2. Put the dried fruit, glace cherries, lemon rind and brandy in a large bowl and mix together well (you can even leave the mixture to stand overnight).

3. Sift the flour and mixed spice into another large bowl. Add the ground almonds, sugar, margarine, black treacle and eggs and beat together for 2 – 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and glossy. It shouldn't be too runny, if it is you can add another 30g (1oz) of flour to thicken it up a little.

4. Using a large metal spoon, add the fruit to the flour mixture and fold until the fruit is evenly distributed.

5. Let everyone in the family have a stir and make a wish!

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top over with the back of the spoon. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated cool oven (140C/275F/gas mark 1) for two and a half hours. If the cake is evenly risen and starting to shrink from the sides of the tin, then it's cooked. If not, pop it back into the oven for another 15 – 20 minutes.

7. When the cake is cold remove it from the tin but leave the greaseproof paper in place. Using a thin, sharp bladed knife, make about a dozen holes in the cake and spoon over 4 – 6 tablespoons of brandy. Cover the top of the cake with a disc of greaseproof paper and fold sides over it to complete the wrapping. Then wrap in tin foil and store upside down in a cool place.

I usually make mine four weeks before Christmas, just after my son's birthday, marzipan it on the 23rd December and ice it on Christmas Eve.

I then let the children loose with the decorations while I make some mince pies. I've used the same recipe for over 30 years (hence the photo, that was me aged 22, the same age my daughter is now) and it has never let me down!

Hope it works for you.

Much love

Julia xx


  1. Magda Chetty November 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    You are a STAR, my husband loves Christmas cake and Iam so bad at making cakes. And as you know it is hard to find an English Christmas cake in Mallorca. Every year we buy one from an English shop here, but God it cost 10 times more than in England.
    So Iam going to try yours, wish me luck. I”ll let you know how I get on.
    Iam so looking forward to Sunday and B&W shows, I”ve already ordered a ring and I don”t even know what it looks like.
    Reading your blog and you talking about the rain, it made me think again about the move to England, as it has been great here during the days, so far the sun is been out every morning, a bit cold at night, but no rain for 3 weeks, may be I should listen to you and think about it more.
    Hope you have a fab week. Just also want to say that you are soooooooo good in writing back to us all, even thought you are always very busy, Bless You.
    Much love.

  2. Una November 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    That photo is never 30 years old!!!!! Oh my word, you have hardly aged!
    That recipe sounds good to me, I am definately making my own cake this year. I have made the cookies twice this week, and they were a great hit.
    Im so looking forward to seeing you and Simon together. Will have to stay up late to catch yourself and Keeley later tonight.
    Lots of love
    Una x

  3. barbara November 19, 2010 at 9:19 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia thank you for your recipe for the christmas cake will make it over the weekend also the cookies and i will ask 2 of the grandchildren to help as they will be eating them. They all like to come and ask to do some baking. I only let 2 help at once as i have 5 grandchidren 1 is only 6months old but i only have a small kitchen. Looking forward to watching you on saturday night. Hope Daniel as a good birthday later in the week. Speak to you soon lots of love and take care Barbara xx

  4. Una November 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm -  Reply

    me again, sorry!
    Just a quick question if you dont mind. Am I right in thinking Leighton Denny have a range of suede effect nail colours? I was sure I saw it, but cant find it on the website.
    Thank you.
    Una xx

  5. dee November 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm -  Reply

    am going to give the cake a try, although my baking isn’t my best assest I do love cooking – what sort of icing do you use? Bet the B&W is the watch you’ve been wearing???

  6. Annette Roberts November 20, 2010 at 11:48 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I love to make my own Christmas cake and usually soak my fruit in loads of brandy for a few days beforehand, with regular top ups inbetween! May have to give it a miss this year though and bite the bullet and buy one…. we’ll see!
    Thoroughly enjoyed the pilates with Marjolein and was very tempted to order and trade my Total Gym for the aero pilates machine, which I think would be better to aid my recovery, far gentler than having to have the total gym on an incline to get the resistance.
    Chris thought it would be better to wait until we see the physio before investing in one… I really wanted to order it, but understand his thinking. The plaster has now come off my leg and I have a lovely big boot on which weighs a ton and have to take it off when not in use and elivate my leg and flex the foot as much as is comfortable… it’s going to be a very long process, lots of patience needed, not one of my strong points.
    Looking forward to your show with Simon, you always puts a smile on my face and make me laugh when you’re together.
    Take care and speak soon
    Annette x

  7. Lesley November 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm -  Reply

    I have a question too, Julia, about the Beth Terrell range. Am I right in thinking that her coats and jackets will no longer be stocked by QVC? I know she recently made the decision not to present the range herself, but all the exisiting stock seems to be on clearance now and we haven’t seen any new stock on air this autumn so I fear the writing is on the wall?
    Love and light,

  8. laura November 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I’ve watched in admiration your body shape change over the last 7-8 months(although you always looked good, I think!). I would love to hear if you don’t mind sharing with the rest of us about your exercise regime: how much exercise do you do each time, what type of exercise and do you try to exercise every day? How do you keep motivating yourself, what keeps you going? How do you resist not overindulging in your own yummy recipes?? How do you beat the temptations that must come your way? Sorry about so many questions, but I would love to know your experience and how you did it, so I can apply your knowledge (which obviously works) and start my own health makeover! Would appreciate any tips, please!
    Also I must mention that despite your amazing weight loss, your skin still looks lovely and youthful! Do you perhaps use the Tua to help you maintain your lovely skin? I hope you can share with us all, please Julia?
    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work, as every day is a new challenge!

  9. julia roberts November 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm -  Reply

    Hi Magda
    It’s my pleasure to write back to you all, after all you’ve taken the time to write to me! I like writing anyway, and now that the move is over i can settle down to my book again.
    Just been out for a walk and although not raining it’s VERY cold – i would definitely stick with Majorca!
    Hope the Christmas cake turns out nicely, as I said this recipe has never let me down!
    Julia x

  10. julia roberts November 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Una
    I just replied to you on my Cookie blog – so you’ve made them now? You need to reassure Steven how easy they are to do!
    Did you stay up to see the Butler and Wilson TSV? Simon was on great form. Can’t decide which I like best – it’s between the blue and the purple I think.
    hope the Christmas cake turns out as well as the cookies
    happy baking
    Julia x

  11. julia roberts November 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm -  Reply

    Hi Barbara
    Isn’t it lovely to get the children involved in baking at an early age. My Mum used to let us help when we were little and I’m sure that’s why I enjoy it so much. I remember once ‘making’ some pastry – by the time I had finished manhandling it it was a sort of greyish colour. I made a jam turnover, and to his credit my lovely Dad ate the lot and even said how good it tasted!
    Hope you’ve enjoyed baking with your grandchildren this weekend
    Julia x

  12. julia roberts November 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm -  Reply

    Hello Una
    I’ve got a funny feeling it was OPI that did the suede finish nail colour?? You’ve got me wondering now!
    Incidentally, did you like my hat in the photo from 32 years ago!!!!!!! I had a real thing about that style ( which I think we used to call beanies? ) so much so that I actually crocheted that one in double strand cotton. Funny thing is I still have it in a keepsake box – came to light during the move.
    Julia x

  13. julia roberts November 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi Dee
    I have been teasing everyone all week with the skeleton watch – lots of you thought it was the TSV, but that was a red herring! The necklace is brilliant for under £30 don’t you think?
    I make Royal Icing – just egg whites and icing sugar. I don’t bother with glycerine to keep it soft as the cake rarely lasts the week from Christmas to New Year, but you could add it if you like soft icing. I buy my marzipan – I’ve made it once but it was very dry, not sure what i did wrong?
    Hope the cake turns out well
    Julia x

  14. julia roberts November 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Annette
    Am hoping that you enjoyed the Butler and Wilson shows over the weekend, and that they put a smile on your face ….. goodness knows you need something to smile about.
    I had a thought about your Christmas cake. Have you seen the Waitrose advert for the Delia Smith ‘do it yourself’ Christmas cake? Maybe Chris could attempt that with a bit of instuction from you?
    I agree with Chris about waiting for the physio’s opinion re the Pilates. They use Pilates to help rehab footballers and dancers and other athletes but it is probably best to get advice straight from the person that knows your particular injury. If they don’t mention Pilates to you, I would ask them about it.
    Try and be patient if you could and enjoy being a lady of leisure whilst it’s an option – it won’t be forever!
    Julia x

  15. Una November 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I LOVED the hat. Imagine finding it after all these years.
    Steven. The cookies are SO easy to make. Even I can make them, and I am no domestic goddess LOL!!!! Ive actually made them 3 times now, and they go down a treat, literally!
    We had a little trial with the orange decorations Julia, and they are going to be stunning. Its a tiny little chapel, and the service isnt until 5pm, so it is going to be so romantic.
    Ive seen the fabric for the dresses, and it is just the most beautiful shade. The bride is wearing a very plain ivory sheath dress, with a burnt orange stole, and that is reversed for the bridesmaids. They are all very tall and slim, and oh my goodness, I just cant wait!!!!!
    Yes, the vision of my friend with her lovely outfit, and her dummy as a hat, had me rolling on the floor!!!
    I did see Simon, he is just a sweetheart isnt he. I LOVED the blue, it was beautiful. I also just watched Alexis. My word, she is looking amazing. She looks so content, her 2 boys and a little girl, just lovely.
    You are going to be so busy with all that baking Julia, enjoy, LOL.
    lots of love
    Una x
    P.s. Steve and Annette, hope you guys are both feeling better. Steve, thats awful, after all that hard work, and you were too ill, So sorry to hear that.

  16. caroline hopley-froud November 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Glad you are now settled in your new home. I hope you have as many happy times as you had in your old home. I purchased a Pilates machine about a year ago and have persevered, BUT I cannot continue because (don’t laugh) it gives me motion sickness!! It makes me feel awful when I lie down, not so bad when I sit up, but many of the exercises are designed for when you are flat so I will have to find a good home for it. Tried and failed – story of some of my life really. Hey ho as Santa would say.
    Caroline x

  17. julia roberts November 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi Lesley
    Not ignoring your question about Beth Terrell designs, just haven’t had a reply back from the buyers yet! Can you believe it’s about a year since Beth was last on QVC UK – I really miss her, she was such a lovely lady.
    If I get an answer I will post it here
    Julia x

  18. julia roberts November 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm -  Reply

    Hello Laura
    Lots of questions certainly and I’ll do my best with some answers.
    When I started on my regime in March I very strictly followed the Diet Chef programme for a month and it was a great incentive as I lost over half a stone in the 1st four weeks. I did at least 2 30 minute brisk walking sessions on my treadmill a week, plus the cardio board on my Pilates machine and my In Stride Performer. I also did 30 minutes of Pilates 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes on the same day as my aerobic exercise.
    The more I saw the weight coming off, the better I felt and looked and that was the motivation I needed to say no to chocolate and cakes ( didn’t have them at all for about 5 months with the exception of birthdays! ) I also cut down on my bread intake – initially none, then 1 slice a day and now a maximum of 2 slices a day – that has really helped me.
    Although I am not dieting now I am just much more aware of the quantity and quality of the food I eat. The ‘diet’ has helped me lose the weight and the execise has shaped me up – and all the compliments I have had from you guys has also helped with the motivation. I don’t use the Tua ( although apparently it is very good ) but I do use good skincare and I think losing the weight slowly has helped the skin to recover to it’s smaller size without too much slackness.
    I do hope some of this is of help to you and good luck when you feel ready to start
    Julia x

  19. julia roberts November 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Una
    Sounds like you’ve been busy already with all that baking. Thanks for encouraging Steven to try the cookies – if the refs are on strike in Scotland next weekend it will give him something to do with his Saturday afternoon.
    You’ll have to send me some pictures of the wedding!!!
    I forgot L’Occitane was on tonight – did she bring the baby in??
    Julia x

  20. julia roberts November 22, 2010 at 11:32 pm -  Reply

    Oh Caroline I’m so sorry to hear you can’t get on with your Pilates machine. I know what you mean though cos that’s what I felt like at first. I found having the headrest raised helped me until I got used to it – what a shame!
    Doesn’t Santa say Ho!Ho!Ho! ? LOL
    Julia x

  21. steve November 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi julia,
    Just reading all the positive comments on the pilates home studio,this machine changed my life!
    I think you should definately put a recipe book together Julia you are a multi skilled goddess in and out of the kitchen! and you have daniel and me for all the nutritional advice.
    Thanks Una for your support i feel hundred percent again, put it down to experience, very focused on competing in the spring, thanks again for your concern.
    And yes Julia i would buy it! I’am thinking book signings….. you my need an agent next year!
    Hope you have settled into to your new home, have a great week Steve X

  22. Una November 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I will definately send some photos, of course I will, not a problem.
    Haha, very true. My goodness, it seems very odd, the refs going on strike! Very strange situation.
    Alexis didnt bring the baby in. Maybe you will have to half a wee chat with her before her next visit!!!!!!! She looks great though, considering the wee one is only 3 weeks old. My eyes were literally hanging out my hand at that stage, when I had my 2!!!!
    So glad you are well again Steve. Good luck for next year. Will keep reading to see how you are doing.
    See you soon Julia
    Una xx

  23. Annette Roberts November 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Really enjoyed the Butler and Wilson shows and as always, they put a smile on my face. Loved your fringed dress, very 1920’s inspired… I was half hoping you would break out into the charleston LOL!
    How spooky… Chris saw the Waitrose advert for Dehlia’s cake and thought it was a brilliant idea too, so we may give that a go.
    You are quite right with your advice about the physio and Pilates, Trouble is I’m impatient and expect things to happen a lot quicker than they are, as you say I should be enjoying being a lady of leisure whilst it lasts. I can’t wait to get rid of this boot though, it’s like a big ski boot with lots of velcro straps on and takes some doing up, especially when the loo is calling!!!
    Annette x
    P.S. Thanks Una, feeling much better and the ankle isn’t as stiff as it first was… I’ll have to try being the tortoise instead of the hare LOL!!!

  24. gemma grierson November 24, 2010 at 9:00 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I haven’t tried your christmas cake as we have our own recipe for that that we made just before you posted your blog. I can say though that i tried your cookies and they were scrummy! Can’t be making too many batches of those or i will not fit into my grecian wedding dress! I finally found one! One thing i wanted you to check out for me is Do Butler and Wilson do arm cuff bangles? I wanted to wear one on my wedding day. I’ll watch your next shows with Simon and hopefully he may grant a bride to be’s wish! I don’t even mind what metal it in gold tone or silver tone. Any help would be appreciated!
    Many Thanks Julia and i’ll keep watching!

  25. Linda Thorpe November 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, I gave my mum a copy of your christmas cake recipe and she made it yesterday.. she is thrilled as it is the first time she said her cake hasn’t cracked on the top.. thank you and I am sre she will have pleasure baking it for many christmases to come .
    Lots of love
    Linda xx

  26. Susan November 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Just reading through the comments above about exercise and I can’t believe you have a treadmill, an In Stride machine and 2 Pilates performers!! My your house must be a fair size to accommodate all of them! Awful weather has started by the way hasn’t it. The sides roads are horrific – just like ice rinks and I’ve skidded a couple of times already – not a fan of driving in this weather. Take care
    Susan x

  27. julia roberts November 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

    Hello Steve
    ‘Multi-skilled Goddess’?????????????? – really? I don’t think so, but I do like the sound of it!
    I know how much the Pilates machine has helped you and you know I totally agree with you about it. I am so grateful that Marjolein Brugman came into my life ….. I really like her too, she is very passionate about her beliefs and we all need a bit of passion in our lives!!!
    I’ll give the recipe book some thought but of course it would have to be ‘veggie’ so that would probably put a lot of people off.
    If I ever get the book finished I am up for book signings, after all it would be fantastic to actually have anyone wanting to buy it!
    Glad to hear you are well again
    speak soon
    Julia x

  28. julia roberts November 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Una
    It’s amazing how some people just spring back into shape after having babies. I wasn’t too bad after I had Daniel, but there is only 13 months between Danny and Sophie and I think my body just ‘gave up’ for a while! It’s a good job I got the Weightwatchers commercial not long after I had Sophie that certainly got me back in shape fast …… it’s funny what you can do when there is a pay cheque involved!
    Loook forward to seeing the pics
    Julia x

  29. julia roberts November 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm -  Reply

    Hi Annette,
    Remember it’s the tortoise that wins the race! – although I must admit I’m definitely a hare!!!
    So pleased the Butler and Wilson shows cheered you up – we have the Couture show tomorrow and then 2 lots of B & W World ( 1 hour Monday and 2 hours Tuesday ) then that’s Simon done until February. I hope I still have his energy when I’m his age – and no I’m not about to divulge it, suffice to say he is amazing!
    I loved that dress, I bought it especially for that show and Simon really liked it too – no suprise really as he loves everything vintage inspired!
    Keep your chin up and I hope Delia’s cake turns out well if Chris decides to give it a go
    much love
    Julia x

  30. julia roberts November 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Gemma
    Good to hear you finally found a Grecian wedding dress to your liking – the occassional cookie won’t hurt as long as you keep an eye on everything else.
    I will ask Simon about the arm cuff, that would really finish off ‘the look’ wouldn’t it.
    Enjoy the shows
    Julia x

  31. julia roberts November 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm -  Reply

    Hello Linda
    So pleased that your Mum’s cake turned out ok – the proof of the pudding is in the eating of course, so I hope you will all get to enjoy it. I’m presuming she gave it a generous few spoonsful of brandy before wrapping it up?? hic!!
    Julia x

  32. julia roberts November 29, 2010 at 11:53 am -  Reply

    Hi Susan
    Just the one Pilates Performer set up in our spare bedroom, along with the In Stride Walker ……….. the treadmill has had to go in the conservatory, which is quite nice actually as I can look out at the garden while I’m walking …… almost like being outside just not so freezing cold.
    No snow here ………………. yet!!!!
    Julia x

  33. Susan November 30, 2010 at 11:13 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I think it’s amazing that you have all those machines! Is your other Pilates machine in your house in Espana? I bet the conservatory is FREEZING at the moment?! I always think I’d love a conservatory for the summer months but it must be so cold in the winter! I hope you don’t get the same snow as we’ve had (for days!)…It’s not as fun when you have places to go and people to see! Take care,
    Susan x

  34. julia roberts December 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm -  Reply

    Hi Susan
    Lots of snow here now ……….. I fought my way into work yesterday ( 2 and a quarter hours for a 15 mile journey! ) Well I say I fought my way in – Chris wouldn’t let me go on my own as the snow was already 13 cms by 2 in the afternoon and I was on air until 11 so that would have been a very hairy/scarey drive home! We got in around half past midnight and it was only really the last mile or two that was a problem – the London roads were clear as a bell.
    We have about 18cms now but I guess it is much worse in other parts of the country
    Julia x

  35. Jess December 2, 2010 at 11:32 am -  Reply

    Thanks for the info on the ring. Can’t make up my mind as I think it may catch on clothes…………………..?

  36. Susan December 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I know I really hope it clears up soon…it’s the ice more than the snow that gets me. That’s so lovely that Chris wanted to & was able to take you to work and pick you up again. Very lucky lady! Take care in the ice.
    Susan x

  37. Phil January 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    i’ve just realised i could leave a comment for you here,
    just a quick not to wish you a happy new year and say
    you are the most amazingly beautiful woman.
    i initally began watching qvc to see you, and found that it really does have great value.
    Hope you had a brillant christmas with your family,
    you seem like such a warm nice person on air.
    im one of your army of Fans
    Phil :-) x

  38. Jane Davey May 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia am struggling with the aero pilates 4 corded machine. I’ve had it nearly 2 wks and find rebounding makes my back ache quite a bit so i’m worried that i could be hurting my back. I’ve never sufferred with a bad back no matter what exercise i do. Any advice would be welcome.
    Many thanks Jane.

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