Tags

‘GINGER, SPICE AND ALL THINGS NICE’ CHRISTMAS CAKE

 

Packed full of festive spices, stem ginger and ginger wine this rich and fruity Christmas cake is a real treat.

This recipe was originally featured in a feature I did for Waitrose Food magazine November 2015. img_8737

Makes 1 X 25cm round cake

 

700g mixed currants, raisins and sultanas

200g soft dried apricots, quartered

200g soft dried prunes, quartered

150g dried cherries (not glace cherries)

125g stem ginger, finely chopped

150ml ginger wine

finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange

350g plain flour

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ of a whole nutmeg, grated

275g unsalted butter, at room temperature

275g soft dark brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

5 medium eggs

75g ground almonds

200g pistachios, roughly chopped

extra ginger wine for maturing

25cm round tin, lightly greased with butter

 

Place all of the dried fruits and ginger in a large bowl and stir in the 150ml of ginger wine, orange juice and zest. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight for the fruits to plump up.

 

Line the base and sides of the cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment so it comes about 5cm above the tin. Put a double layer around the outside of the tin, and rather than struggling with a piece of string, hold in place with a couple of staples or paper clips. Doing this prevents the cake from overcooking around the outside during the long cooking time.

 

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 150C, gas mark 2. Sift together the flour, allspice, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl or electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding about 1 tbsp of the spiced flour with each egg. Mix in the remaining flour and then stir through the ground almonds, pistachios and soaked fruits until thoroughly combined.

 

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets and spread evenly across the top, using a wet palate knife. Place the tin in the oven, sitting on a few pieces of baking parchment or newspaper. Again this will prevent the outside of the cake from overcooking. After 2 ½ hours, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean without any raw cake mix attached, the cake is cooked, if not, carry on cooking, testing every 10 minutes. During the cooking time, if the top seems to becoming too dark, loosely cover with a piece of baking parchment or foil.

 

When cooked, leave the cake in the tin to cool for about 1 hour and then turn out onto a wire rack. When the cake is completely cold, make several deep holes with a skewer and pour over a couple of tablespoons of ginger wine – which will be absorbed giving a richer moister finish as the cake matures.

 

Wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper or foil and store in a tin. Repeat moistening with ginger wine a couple more times before you ice the cake ready for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding

Traditionally, Christmas puddings were always made on Stir-up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent). All the family took a turn to stir the pudding and make a secret wish whilst they stirred. The pudding was always stirred from East to West to represent the journey that the three wise men who visited baby Jesus made. This year (2012) Stir-up Sunday falls on 25th November. But it’s not only Christmas pudding that can be made ahead, Christmas cake is also best made a few weeks in advance, which will allow time for the flavours to mature.

Both Christmas pudding and Christmas cake are both surprisingly easy to prepare, and even though the ingredients lists look long the methods are really straightforward. Once cooked, you can feel great knowing that at least  one thing is organised for Christmas day. As for the rest of the food and pressie shopping, they will no doubt be last minute madness purchases.

CHRISTMAS CAKE

Makes 1 x 25cm round or square cake

INGREDIENTS

300g currants

200g raisins

200g sultanas

200g dried apricots, quartered

200g dried prunes, quartered

100g glace cherries, halved

100g diced glace ginger

Juice and finely grated rind of 1 orange

350g plain flour

1/2tsp ground allspice

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1/2tsp grated nutmeg

75g ground almonds

275g unsalted butter, at room temperature

275g soft dark-brown sugar

1tbsp black treacle

75ml brandy

5 large eggs

Extra brandy for maturing

METHOD

Place all the dried fruits in a large bowl and stir in the 75ml of brandy, orange juice and zest. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight.

The next day, line the base and sides of a greased 25cm round or square cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment so it comes about 5cm above the tin. Put a double layer around the outside of the tin and, rather than struggling with a piece of string, hold it in place with a couple of staples or paper clips. Doing this prevents the cake from overcooking around the outside during the long cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 2. Sift together the flour, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large bowl or electric mixer, whisk together the butter, sugar and treacle until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding 1tbsp of the flour with each egg. Mix in the almonds and soaked fruits, then mix in the remaining flour.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets, and spread evenly across the top. Place the tin in the oven, sitting on several pieces of brown paper or newspaper – this will also help prevent the outside of the cake from overcooking.

After 2 1/2 hours, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked; if not, carry on cooking, testing every 10 minutes. During the cooking time, if the top seems to getting too dark, cover with a piece of baking parchment or foil.

When cooked, leave the cake in the tin to cool for about 1 hour and then turn out on to a wire rack. When the cake is completely cold, make several deep holes with a skewer and pour over a couple of tablespoons of brandy. This will absorb into the cake, giving a richer, moister finish as it matures.

Wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper or foil and store in a tin. Repeat moistening with brandy at regular intervals before Christmas.

TIP: If you like a nutty Christmas cake, add 200g chopped walnuts, pecans or brazil nuts (or a mixture of all three) to the cake with the ground almonds.

FRUITY CHRISTMAS PUDDING

This recipe I use is one that my Grandma used to do. I have added some chopped pecans to her recipe because I quite like the chunky texture, but it is just as delicious without them.

Makes 3 x 900g or 2 x 1.5kg puds

INGREDIENTS

50g self-raising flour

175g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1tsp mixed spice

50g ground almonds

250g shredded suet

225g dark muscavado sugar

100g white breadcrumbs – from a dry loaf

1.5kg mixed currants, raisins and sultanas

1tbsp black treacle

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest 1 orange

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated

1 medium cooking apple, peeled and grated

200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

2tbsp brandy or rum

150ml dark ale or stout

4 large eggs, beaten

Flour and butter for preparing the pudding basins

METHOD

Sift together the flours and spices into a large bowl. Stir in the almonds, suet, sugar and breadcrumbs – mixing well. Add all of the remaining ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge or a really cool place for 24 hours or up to 1 week if possible, stirring a few times.

Grease and lightly flour either 3 x 900ml or 2 x 1.2ltr basins and pack in the pudding mixture. Top the surface of the puddings with a circle of greaseproof paper, and then cover with baking parchment or foil. Fold around the edges of the basin and tie with string, or tightly scrunch the foil under the lip of the basin.

Place in a steamer, over boiling water for about 6 hours, topping up with water every so often so it doesn’t boil dry.

Leave to cool and remove the parchment/foil and greaseproof paper, and replace with a new lot. The pudding can now be stored in a cool, dry place.

On the big day the pudding can be steamed for about 11/2 hours, or covered loosely and heated in a microwave for about 6 minutes on high power. For more accurate timings, check your manufacturer’s instructions.

You can check whether it is ready by inserting a skewer into the centre and leaving it for a couple of seconds. If feels piping hot then the pudding is ready to eat after standing for 1 minute.

For a ‘flaming pudding’, half fill a metal ladle with brandy (or as much as you want) and carefully heat over a gas flame or lit candle. When the brandy is hot enough, it will light. Pour the flaming brandy over the pudding. Turn off the lights and make a grand entrance to the dinner table.

TIP: A word of advice – if you intend to decorate your pudding with a piece of holly, watch it doesn’t catch light – I’m talking from experience!

Photography Gareth Morgans

The New Nut Roast

If you are vegetarian or cooking for anyone who is vegetarian this Christmas – fear not, there is more to the Christmas Dinner than the dreaded Nut Roast. This recipe is a great one for everyone to enjoy too, so give it a go.

BUTTERNUT, PORCINI AND BUTTERBEAN CAKE

Serves 4-8, depending on whether you serve it as a vegetarian main course or a side dish.
1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the tin
25g dried porcini mushrooms
50g breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
400g tin of butterbeans, drained
50g toasted pinenuts
75g ready-to-eat apricots, chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 stalks of rosemary, leaves chopped
a good grating of nutmeg
sprigs of rosemary and 3 dried apricots, cut in half, to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan ovens/gas mark 6

Brush the base and sides of an 18cm non-stick loose-bottomed cake tin with olive oil.

Place the butternut squash, garlic and onion in a roasting tray, season with salt and pepper and toss in the olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is tender and becoming golden.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for about 30 minutes to soak and become plump. Once soaked, drain and roughly chop. Keep to one side.

When the vegetables are cooked, remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, egg and butterbeans. Blitz to a rough paste and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the porcini mushrooms, pinenuts, apricots, celery, rosemary, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into the cake tin and smooth over the top. Decorate with the rosemary and apricots and brush over the top with a little olive oil.

Sit on a baking tray, and bake in the oven for about 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes until it begins to feel firm. Once cooked, allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve cut into wedges.

PS…

When you have prepared the stuffing cake, it ca be kept in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. You will need to add on about 10 more minutes of cooking time if it is cooked from chilled.

Festive Mince Pies

I am feeling very festive today as I have just made a load of mince pies. This is my favourite recipe at the moment. The crumble topping makes them just delicious and they are so easy and quik to throw together. Give them a try….

EASY MINCE PIES WITH ORANGE AND CINNAMON CRUMBLE TOPPING

Makes approx.12
approx. 375g shortcrust pastry
250g good quality mincemeat
50g plain flour
4 tbsp demerara sugar
40g butter
finely grated zest of ½ orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon

you will also need 1 or 2 x 12 hole patty tins.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC fan oven/gas 6.

Thinly roll out the pastry and using a 7.5-9cm pastry cutter, cut out as many disks as you can, re-rolling the trimmings as you go. Press the disks into the holes of one or two 12 hole patty tins.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat into each pastry case and set aside.

To make the crumble topping, rub together the flour, demerara sugar, butter, orange zest and cinnamon until you have a chunky crumble mixture.  Scatter over the top of the mincemeat and place in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the mince pies are golden and the tops are crisp.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before taking out of the tins. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve.

PS…

For those who aren’t lovers of mincemeat, a delicious alternative is to replace it with some apple pie filling, and make as above with the crumble topping.

Christmas Pudding

I am currently working on my laptop in the kitchen, with the delicious aroma of Christmas pudding steaming happily on the hob behind me. The recipe I use, has made three good-sized puddings. One of which I steamed yesterday and packed it up in a hamper along with other homemade goodies ready for last nights Dyslexia Action Awards Dinner and Auction. I am yet to find out what the final bid was, but hopefully it was quite high.

Anyway, back to the pudding, so the recipe I use is one that my Grandma used to do. I have added some chopped pecans to her recipe because I quite like the chunky texture, but it is just as delicious without them. Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you into a panic, this really is exceptionally simple to prepare, and well worth it. I feel great knowing that at least we I have one thing organised for Christmas day. As for the rest of the food and pressie shopping, they will no doubt be last minute madness purchases.

RICH CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Makes 3 x 900g or 2 x 1.5kg puds
50g self raising flour
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
half tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
250g shredded suet
225g dark muscavado sugar
100g white breadcrumbs – from a dry loaf
1.5kg mixed currants, raisins and sultanas
1 tbsp black treacle
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
finely grated zest 1 orange
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 medium cooking apple, peeled and grated
200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp brandy or rum
150ml Dark ale or stout
4 large eggs, beaten
flour and butter for preparing the pudding basins

Sift together the flours and spices into a large bowl. Stir in the almonds, suet, sugar and breadcrumbs – mixing well. Add all of the remaining ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge or a really cool place for 24 hours or up to 1 week if possible, stirring a few times.

Grease and lightly flour either 3 x 900ml or 2 x 1.2 litre basins and pack in the pudding mixture. Top the surface of the puddings with a circle of greaseproof paper, and then cover with baking parchment or aluminium foil.

Fold around the edges of the basin and tie to secure with string, or tightly scrunch the foil under the lip of the basin. Place in a steamer, over boiling water for about 6 hours, topping up with water every so often, making sure it doesn’t boil dry.

Leave to cool and remove the parchment/foil and greaseproof paper, and replace with a new lot. The pudding/s can now be stored in a cool dry place. On the big day the pudding can be steamed for about 1 and a half – 2 hours, or covered loosely and heated in your microwave for about 6 minutes on high power, checking every so often by inserting a skewer into the centre, leaving for a couple of seconds. If feels piping hot then the pudding is ready to eat after standing for 1 minute. For more accurate timings, it is best to check your manufacturers instructions.

For a ‘flaming pudding’, half fill a metal ladle with brandy (or as much as you want) and carefully heat over a gas flame or lit candle. When the brandy is hot enough, the brandy will light. Pour the flaming brandy over the pudding. Make sure the lights are out when taking to the table for a grand entrance. A word of advice, if you have a piece of holly on top, watch it doesn’t catch alight – I’m talking from experience!

RUM SAUCE

Serve your Christmas pudding with this rum sauce as it is really delicious. Once made, again it will freeze well – just bring it to a simmer before you serve it.

Makes plenty to serve 8
4 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp caster sugar
500ml milk
3 tbsp rum
100ml single cream

    Mix together the cornflour, caster sugar and a little milk to form a paste. Place the milk in a non-stick saucepan and then stir in the cornflour paste.

    Stir over a medium heat until it thickens and starts to simmer. Stir in the rum and cream.

    Pour into a jug and serve piping hot with the Christmas pudding.

    Latest Tweet

    • @orchardhs Thanks for the birthday picture OHS! Have a good trip back.

      Retweet Reply Favorite

    From My Blog

    rss
      Packed full of festive spices, stem ginger and ginger wine this rich and fruity Christmas cake is a real treat. This recipe was originally featured in a feature I did for Waitrose Food magazine November 2015.  Makes 1 X 25cm round cake   700g mixed currants, raisins and sultanas 200g soft dried apricots, quartered […]

    The Gorgeous Kitchen

    Next time you are flying from or travelling through London Heathrow’s Terminal 2, then please do come and visit this stunning restaurant and room with a view. Order some of my recipes from our innovative menu’s using fresh, seasonal produce or relax with a drink at our stylish bar.