A most adaptable recipe for autumn and winter holidays, or any days!
1/4 cup soft shortening or oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coffee
Mix together. Then sift in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Add to liquid ingredients. Spread in pan, after adding nuts, raising, crystallized fruit or anything else desired, bake till tender and cut into bars. Or add extra flour as desired, roll out, cut into shapes and bake.
Basic Baking Time is 1/2 hour at 350oF. Adjust for thickness of the loaf/biscuits/bars.
Instead of coffee: Sanka, cocoa, mugi-cha [Japanese roasted barley beverage], other brewed liquids?
A plethora of other flours than white can be used, especially half-and half with the white. Rolled oatmeal gives it a real North Country/Scottish feel, rye is more north & east European. 1/2 cup ground almonds makes it nice and torte-like.
Additional spices: coriander, pepper, galingale, anise, whatever.
Shortenings: Crisco is good, regular vegetable oil gives a nice soft product but nut oils taste better [strongly flavored oils like olive or sesame would be odd], margarine will work as would lard [but you have to really like lard], suet is right out.
Fresh chopped apples and pears are good in this. Absolutely any nuts and dried or candied fruits are appropriate, and a lot of these make for a great Xmas-fruitcake. For a plum pudding steam the batter in a bowl or mold for a couple of hours, then flame with brandy.
[adapted from a recipe in THE DARKOVER COOKBOOK, 1979 ed.]