I have to say I’m cheating a little here with my own rules as I haven’t ever cooked this on my own. In fact my participation has only ever advanced to weighing ingredients and helping fill cake tins. Christmas is my mum’s domain. She’s been doing it for years and she’s on a roll, my interference is not needed! However, I had to share this cake recipe with you as it really is a last minute cake. It doesn’t need to mature and if you’re forgotten to buy a cake and you’re totally desperate, well, start now!
Makes 1×8″ (20cm) cake
500g mixed dried fruits
125g dates, stoned and chopped (or apricots or prunes, big fruits are what you’re after.)
175g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
90g glace cherries, chopped
60g chopped mixed nuts
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
– In a large pan melt the butter and then add the dried mixed fruits, dates (or other fruits), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, water, mixed spice and cinnamon.
– Bring this to the boil and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
– Leave the pan, covered, overnight.
– The next day put it in a mixing bowl, or use a machine like a kitchen aid or kenwood chef to do the hard work!
– Add the cherries, nuts and brandy. Mix a little.
– Add the flour and salt and mix in.
– Add the eggs and the baking powder and then mix thoroughly making sire everything is well combined.
– Line an 8″ cake tin with foil, shiny side down, and 2 layers of greaseproof paper.
– Brush lightly with oil.
– Tip in the cake mix and level out the top. Create a small dip in the middle with the back of a spoon to prevent doming.
– Place a small ovenproof dish or tin of water in the bottom of an oven heated to gas mark 2.
– Place the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours covering the top with foil after 1 hour.
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done.
– Cool in the tin then turn out and pour on a little more brandy before either wrapping and storing or covering with marzipan and icing.
I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted. It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents. It also looks so very Christmassy!
I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4! Yum, one spare! It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness. The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch. A surefire winner this one. My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!
Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’
460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts
– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins.
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk.
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine. (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through.
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown.
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely.
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.
Yay! This is my 100th recipe posted here! To celebrate I made a cake. Chocolate cakes and I have a tricky relationship. I’m very demanding when it comes to chocolate cakes. I am after perfection! I’m not sure I’m quite there yet but this is the best chocolate cake I’ve made yet. It’s moist and fudgey and squishy but not too rich. It’s quite dense but stops just short of being called brownie-like. The best thing about it is that it can be thrown together in a blender or mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand. It was ridiculously easy. All in all this cake was a success.
I was going to do fantastic things icing this cake. I made fondant icing from scratch, well, a box of fondant icing sugar. But I had to get the Kenwood out to mix it and spent over an hour rolling it out. Blood, sweat and tears went into this icing, literally. Then I finally had it rolled out to the right size. I went to pick it up to drape it over the cake and… DISASTER. It stuck to the plastic sheets I’d been rolling it out between and then it stuck to itself and then it fell apart. I honestly don’t know if it was too wet, sticky, or too dry, cracked into pieces. But I cried.
So I just stopped with the buttercream icing and decided that may be I should practice with ready rolled a bit first. Learn to walk before I try running if you will. As for the decorations… well, I have the artistic ability of a drunken ferret. I love edible ball bearings and all baked goods should be blessed with them. Strawberries or raspberries would look great on this but they’re out of season at the minute so I used raspberry jelly sweets instead. A layer of fresh fruit inside would be nice too.
Makes 1×8″ cake
For the cake:
225g granulated sugar
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
60ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml boiling water
For the buttercream*:
180g plain chocolate
225g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and prepare two 8″ sandwich tins.
– In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa**, baking powder and salt.
– Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix well. It make seem very dry but keep at it. It will come together to form a dough. Keep mixing until it is a smooth, even consistency.
– Add the water and mix thoroughly.
– Pour the batter into the two tins. If you want completely equal layers you can weigh them but I usually do it by eye.
– Smooth the batter out so it is even.
– Bake for 25-30 minutes. You will be able to see if the centre is uncooked and a skewer inserted will come out clean.
– Make up the buttercream by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Allow to cool.
– Cream together the butter and the icing sugar and then add the vanilla essence.
– Mix well then add the melted chocolate and stir thoroughly until everything is combined.
– Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
– Once completely cool fill between the two cakes and ice all over with the buttercream using a palette knife to smooth it over the cake.
– Decorate as you wish.
* I only made 2/3 this amount and it needed more so expect better coverage than seen in the photo.
**Sift this in or you will get lumps.
Tonight we had enchiladas for dinner. I was all prepped and organised, I’d made the sauce and done all of my prep as I had to go out and would only get back in time to eat. Then I got the tortilla wraps out. Disaster! They’d gone off. I knew that mum had made flour tortillas once before so it had to be doable and set off to google a quick recipe for tortillas. I found two that looked good (love recipes with pictures!) and since they were both the same recipe with very different ratios I sort of took a stab at somewhere in the middle and made it up as I went a long. With hindsight I’d use double the fat if I make these again and cook them for no more than 20 seconds each side. As it was these tortillas were very stiff, when I tried to make an enchilada with one it cracked into six pieces. No worries though, dinner became Layered Enchiladas! But first here is the basic recipe for tortillas.
Makes 6 dinner plate sized ones, probably 8 smaller
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
50g lard or butter(I used 25g lard*)
100ml warm water plus extra as needed
– Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
– Rub in the lard or butter using your fingers.
– Add the water and mix well. Add water 1 tbsp at a time mixing between additions until a soft dough has formed.
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
– Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.
– Turn out and lightly knead for a minute.
– Divide into equal portions.
– Cover any balls of dough you are not working with.
– Heat a dry frying pan on the hob.
– Roll out the ball of dough until paper thin. Aim for a circle but tidy up the shape by stretching the dough out into shape with your hands. This requires elbow grease. When I say paper I mean it!
– Pick up and carefully place flat in the very hot frying pan.
– Cook for 20-30 seconds each side. Just scare it with the frying pan, don’t leave it or it will dry out too much.
– Place the cooked tortillas under a tea towel in a warm place.
– Repeat for each ball.
*Lard has a bad reputation but can actually be better for you than than butter. I think it has less saturated fat and less cholesterol but I’m not certain just how much better it is. Either way it doesn’t deserve the bad rep. it has.
There’s something about pear and chocolate that just works but pears in general are, to my mind, an under used fruit. Not that many people cook with them and those that do usually poach them, which can be delicious but that gorgeous crunchy texture is lost. I bought a big bag of pears today and had to make pudding with them tonight. I really should have waited a day or two for them to ripen but I was impatient. It didn’t effect the taste of this pud but it was slightly troublesome cutting the pear apart with a teaspoon! If you find yourself in a similar circumstance I suggest that you peel the pears, leaving the stalks on, or microwave them a little before inserting them into the cake mix.
I try not to peel fruits and vegetables because the top layer just under the skin is supposed to contain the most nutrients and the fibre in the skins can’t be bad for you but sometimes this does affect the aesthetic of a dish. Since this was just a regular family meal I decided to go for nutrition rather than aesthetics and left the skin on. The pudding itself is lovely and chocolatey with a crisp top and deliciously goopy inside. The honey drizzled on top complements both flavours marvelously.
75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
75g self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 small ripe pears
4 tsp runny honey
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and butter 4 ramekin dishes.
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
– Beat in the eggs one at a time making sure the misture is well combined.
– Beat in the cocoa powder.
– Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until fully combined.
– Divide the mixture equally between the four ramekins.
– With a melon baller remove the core of the pear by going in from the bottom and scooping out small balls until you have removed the seeds. You could also do this with a paring knife and a teaspoon if careful.
– Place the pear stalk up in the centre of the ramekin, pressing down gently into the cake mix.
– Bake in the oven for 16-20 minutes. Slightly longer if using less than ripe pears.
– Drizzle with a teaspoon of honey and serve straight away putting the ramekins on plates as they will be hot.
Filed under Desserts, Easy
It may seem a little early to be starting on Christmas baking but there is a very good reason for this. My nextdoor neighbour and I were talking and she mentionned that she needed a baking project for her class to do for the Christmas fair to raise funds but that there were a number of criteria that needed to be met, no boring fairy cakes, for example! I thought I’d seen a recipe somewhere about that would work but it proved to be a figment of my imagination. So I decided to invent something that would, hopefully, work. These are the delightful result!
They have all the tastes of Christmas but not in an overwhelming way. I have to confess I don’t usually like Christmassy flavoured things, I eat Christmas pudding after Christmas dinner because it’s traditional not because I like it. However, I really liked these muffins. They had all of the flavours but lacked the heavy, stodgy feeling I usually associate with Christmas foods. All in all a great experiment and come Christmas I shall certainly be making these again.
150g mixed dried fruits
zest and juice of 1 orange
50g dark muscoavdo sugar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Holly berry and leaf decorations (I made leaves out of white icing and green colouring and berries out of glace cherry bits)
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin.
– Combine the fruit and orange zest and juice in a microwavable dish and microwave for 2 minutes. Alternately leave them to soak for an hour.
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and oil.
– Sift the flour, baking podwer, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently.
– Add the mixed fruits and stir in.
– Divide the mixture evenly between the six cases.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
– Mix together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until smooth.
– Once the muffins have cooled spoon a little of the icing over each muffin.
– Add the holly decorations and leave to set.