I have called these Wild Bird Seed Cakes but in actual fact the main ingredient in this case is dried fruit and nuts. They work equally well with just seed or just fruit.
The girls come home from school at least once a year with a misshapen bird seed cake, suet/fat balls. In fact they brought some home for the Christmas holidays that I have just found in their school bags.
A couple of years ago I attempted to make some bird seed cakes, in a rush, for them to sell at the school Christmas Fair. The girls told me all I needed was bird seed and lard so that is what I bought. It was a fairly poor and unsuccessful attempt and all we really ended up with was a pile of seed with coating of fat. I think perhaps my ratio of seed to fat was a bit out! They weren’t great sellers, and we have to find some food bags for people to take them away in. I ended up buying a hanging bird feeder to put ours in instead. The birds didn’t mind, they still seemed to enjoy it. Although my knowledge of wild birds isn’t brilliant we did have a Woodpecker come to visit for a little nibble.
When I went to my baking cupboard to see what dried fruit I had available to make my Christmas Cake this year, I discovered that most of the fruit was out of date by at least 12 months. My baking cupboard didn’t see much action through 2016 and possibly even 2015. I hate waste so I put the half used bags of fruit and nuts to one side with the idea of the bird food cakes in the back of my mind.
Since starting this blog I have become more familiar with Pinterest. Although I had set up a Pinterest account for my husband’s hot tub business some years ago I had never really had much interaction with it. If I’m honest I didn’t really get it and I suppose I didn’t really take the time to find out more. I am now getting to grips with it so I did a search for bird seed cakes. An array of different ideas of shapes, sizes and recipes popped up.
Most of the recipes listed gelatine as one of the ingredients. I thought this was maybe where I had gone wrong the first time! So here is my recipe based on my research and the dried fruit and nuts I had in the cupboard. I also had some wild bird seed left over but I think the fruits and nuts on their own would be tasty and tempting for the garden birds.
For the bird seed cakes fruit/nut/seed mix you will need:
- Chopped Hazelnuts
- Mixed Candied Peel
- Wild Bird Seed
The fruit is quite chunky and much bigger than the seed so I gave it a blitz in the food processor for 20-30 seconds to break it down a bit.
For the bird seed cakes binding mixture you will need:
- ¾ cup Plain Flour
- ½ cup Boiled Water
- 1 sachet Plain Gelatin (approx 2½ tsp or 12g)
- 3 tbsp Golden Syrup
- 4 cups Fruit/Nut/Seed mix (prepared above)
Put the granulated gelatin into the warmed water and give it a stir to dissolve. Into a large bowl place the flour and golden syrup, pour in the dissolved gelatin and mix together. Add the fruit/nut/seed mix and combine thoroughly.
You will now need some baking parchment, a baking tray and some large pastry cutters or some kinds of molds. Grease the inside of your molds with a little oil or butter and fill your molds pressing your mixture down firmly as you go. If you only have one mold or pastry cutter you can remove this and re-use as you go. Ensure that you re-grease the cutter every now and again.
Using a straw of the end of a chopstick make a hole towards the top of your bird seed cake. This will be used for threading your string/twine through so that you can hang your bird seed cake out in the garden.
Leave to dry and set for 6-8hrs or overnight and you are ready to give your garden birds a treat.