Gastronomically Terrific

January 5, 2015

Victorian Christmas Cake

Filed under: Cake, Christmas — Tags: , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:52 am

45 Christmas CakeAs with all traditional Christmas cakes, I started making this at the end of October, two months before it was due to get eaten. Well how else do you achieve that amazing boozy taste?!

This is a fairly traditional Christmas cake (there’s a clue in the name), where you soak the fruits the night before, then mix them in with the sugars, flours and treacle etc, then bake the whole heavy thing in the oven for about 4 hours. It really does make the house smell amazing though. You then spend the next 6-8 weeks feeding the cake with sherry/ brandy/ rum/ whatever you prefer (you can use orange juice, but I don’t see why). My drink of choice this year was sherry.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I then covered the cake with marzipan. I have to admit that I didn’t do a fantastic job (the sides in particular looked somewhat patchy), but I wasn’t too worried as I knew a week later the cake would also get covered in icing. And so it did.

I put off covering the cake with icing because I knew I was being fairly ambitious in what I wanted to do, so it took me a couple of days to build up the courage (especially as I had messed up the marzipan so effectively). In the end I didn’t do a bad job, although I do think a little less may have looked better. I added snowflakes (using my shiny new snowflake cutters) to the sides of the cake, separating them with smaller snowflakes and silver balls.

I then used green icing to add a Christmas tree and holly leaves to the top of the cake. I decorated the tree with a white icing star covered in gold edible glitter, added silver sprinkles for tinsel and silver balls for baubles. Finally, I used pomegranate seeds for the holly berries – although it turns out that whatever you use for holly berries, it needs to be bright red; and therefore the colour runs. Bright red pomegranate juice covered my kitchen for a while…

Overall the whole thing looked OK, but perhaps it didn’t need the Christmas tree. Just snow flakes and holly would probably have looked more professional, and a bit more classy. However it looked, it tasted pretty good – nobody who likes Christmas cake complained anyway!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry Christmas, pg. 198

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January 2, 2015

Christmas pudding

Filed under: Christmas, pudding — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:00 pm

Christmas pudding sliceAnother make-in-advance recipe, I made two small Christmas puddings at the end of October ready for Christmas. Christmas puddings aren’t difficult – but they do take a while to cook, because you have to steam them for so long (about 2 hours each for the size puddings I made).

The actual mixing, however, is pretty simple. You just put it all together in a bowl, stir it up and then add a greaseproof paper and tin foil lid before steaming the pudding. The only (slightly) time-consuming tasks are creating the breadcrumbs and zesting the lemon. And adding all the ingredients together of course, because in total there are 14 or 15 of them.

Once I had steamed the puddings, they just sat in bowls waiting for Christmas Day. On Christmas Day itself, there were two options – steam the pudding for a further 30 mins or so to reheat it, or stick it in the microwave for about 3 minutes. I went with the second, super-easy, option. It tasted fine – and adding a slug of brandy and setting light to the pudding just added to the Christmassy feel! Adding incredibly boozy brandy butter helped a lot too (although there was also clotted cream on offer for those who didn’t want the brandy butter).

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: My mum’s!

November 30, 2014

Christmas cake bites

Filed under: Cake, Christmas, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:01 pm

Whilst this is a Christmas recipe, I didn’t make it for Christmas itself. I wanted to use it as a test run for a bake that I would potentially make somebody as a Christmas present. As it happened, it worked out well because my family decided to visit right over the weekend in November that I made these bite-sized cakes, meaning they had somebody to eat them!

The bites themselves taste OK; you make them in a similar way to normal Christmas cake, by soaking apricots in alcohol for a day or so, then adding lots more fruit, sugar and flour to the recipe. You then bake the traybake for an hour or so before covering it with marzipan and icing. What you don’t do is leave the cake for weeks soaking up the additional alcohol you add to it – which, it turns out, is exactly what makes Christmas cake taste so good. These little bites are serviceable enough, but somehow lack that excess that ‘real’ Christmas cake provides. I decided they weren’t quite special enough to get upgraded to present status.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 197

July 17, 2011

Wendy’s Caring Cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:49 pm

This is a “no added sugar” diabetic recipe for fruitcake.  As I am missing a picture, it is hard to visualise this, but it doesn’t look any different to a normal fruit loaf.  We quite enjoyed it, but at the same time it wasn’t all that thrilling.  It was a lot better as a pudding (served hot with cream) than as a cake.  The texture in particular was odd, presumably the high density of dried fruit – and pineapple! leaves the cake a little rubbery (but not in a bad way!).

I’ll give the ingredients, but not a proper recipe.  You can guess the rest, its pretty obvious!  Cook covered (190 degrees) for an hour or so.

Ingredients: 425g can of crushed pineapple, with juice, 450g mixed dried fruit, 1tsp mixed spice, 4 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 225g self raising wholemeal flour.

Who made it: Anna and Dan jointly.

Recipe: “Baking, making and sharing” by Susan Over, page 18.

Angel Fruit Tartlets

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:11 pm

Hot little tarts…

With all that fruit it has to be good for you, right?

The tarts are extremely simple: just short crust pastry, with a sweetened mascarpone cheese topping (175g of the cheese, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, and 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest).  Then a random selection of your favourite fruits sit on top.  Clearly, the only opportunity for excitement here is the topping, but this works really well, being very simple cream cheese with a very intense flavour from the orange.

I can merrily eat 3 of these in a sitting and its only British Social Reserve holding me back from a fourth.  Try them; they are tasty and easy!

Who made it: Anna.

Recipe: Cakes, Bakes, Puddings and Prayers, by Susan Over, page 8.

December 30, 2010

Classic Rich Christmas Cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:59 am

Every year Anna makes a tasty Christmas cake, in a variety of styles.  This year we had the classic christmas fruit cake.

Christmas cake just like your Granny makes it.

This style of Christmas Cake is a bit bonkers to make.  You start it in September, and feed it Brandy once a week like some strange creature under the stairs.  This gets it good and moist and delicate, and probably keeping it sloshed stops it escaping in the middle of the night after tearing up the soft furnishings in the living room.  Anyway, when its time you cover the whole thing in marzipan and then again in royal icing as the British have done since time immemorial.

The main problem with this cake is that store bought ones are actually pretty good.  There is a slight juiciness (and a real brandy hit) present here that you wouldn’t otherwise get, and for those of us who don’t want nuts in the cake its good to make one without.  Of course, this cake tastes great if you like fruit cake, and it keeps forever so I can be merrily stealing slithers well into March if it’s not gone by then.  A foresighted sort of chap like myself sees this as a great reason to make your own Christmas cake, preferably two sizes too large.

Who made it: Anna did all the work, Dan helped with the decorations.

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, page 91.

January 22, 2010

Christmas flavoured fairy cakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 11:47 pm

Fairy cakes come in all shapes and sizes.  So next Christmas why not try:

Mini Christmas Cakes

A “Fruit and nut” variation on the standard fairy cake, when coated in royal icing and decorated accordingly these cakes have all the good bits of Christmas Cake with the best of fairy cakes.  Not as heavy or stodgy as their bigger, jolly cousin, they are still more substantial than an ordinary fairy cake and keep a lot better.

Christmas Fairy Cakes

Left: Icing sugar inverse holly leaf. Top and Right: Mini Christmas Cakes coated with marzipan, royal icing and sugar decorations.

These were boxed up attractively and given as a Christmas gift to a family member (Hi Tony!), along with some standard fairy cakes in a variety of decoration schemes.  I can’t speak for his opinion, but we’ve made these before and they are really tasty.  The nuts help create a more complex flavour, but it is important not put in too many bitter varieties to keep the taste sweet.

These obviously belong in with the December posts but these were delayed due to bad weather… there was the wrong type of snow on the internet wires or something.  Oh yes – I was worried the snowmen in the field would come and get me if they saw their poor doomed friend above.

Who made it: Anna made the cake, and insists Dan helped by cleaning up the leftovers. That is not true, of course, but I better not tell her that..

Recipe: “Fairy Cakes”, by Joanna Farrow, page 30.

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