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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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

November 27, 2014

Spider web chocolate fudge muffins

Filed under: Cake, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:35 pm

With Halloween approaching, I wanted to make some suitable cakes. I’ve made this before, and they’re both fun to make and taste pretty good. They’re a slight variant on a standard fairy sponge cake – the muffins include light muscovado sugar and caster sugar, along with a carton of soured cream. Nothing too unusual, but not what you’d necessarily ordinarily put in your fairy cakes.

The fun part of the baking comes with the icing. You melt white and dark chocolate separately, spread one of the two colours on top of the muffin, then use the other colour to pipe circles. You then use a cocktail stick to turn those circles into spider webs.

I’ve done this before and it’s worked pretty well, but I wasn’t that pleased with the result this time. I thought it looked pretty amateurish, and ended up selecting specific ones to take to a friend’s house for her Halloween party – even then, I didn’t think they looked that good. People at the party were a lot more forgiving and said they looked amazing, but I know I can do better! They did taste alright at least.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: BBC GoodFood website

April 28, 2014

Easter biscuits

Filed under: biscuits, Easter — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:22 pm

Easter biscuitsAn easy bake to use up ingredients I had been baking with over the past week or so, I admit I was a few days late with making my Easter biscuits. I make these biscuits most years, and know basically what I’m doing – although there are a number of variants to the recipe, and I don’t follow exactly the same one every year.

This year I chose to use caster sugar instead of soft light brown sugar (although I think, on the whole, I probably prefer brown sugar in these), and I used orange juice instead of lemon juice. I almost always use lemon juice, but I had an orange to use up in the fridge and no lemon. So that decision was made for me. The recipe is simple – cream together sugar and eggs, add the dry ingredients and juice, then add enough milk to make a dough.

This year, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the baking was letting my 20 month old son get involved in cutting out the shapes. I let him choose the biscuit cutters, then push them down into the dough. Admittedly, he picked completely inappropriate cutter shapes for Easter biscuits, and needed some help with the actual cutting, but overall we both really enjoyed the process. And I made sure I made some traditionally shaped ones too!

Who made it: Anna and Joe

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, pg. 22-23

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