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.
Or, for the purposes of the Halloween Feast, Eye of Newt Jelly. Not only did this look the part but I really wanted to have something pomegranatey in the menu given its associations with the underworld. This was also my very first time using gelatine. It wasn’t quite as traumatic as it might have been but I did spend 2 hours waiting for it to “thicken” and being disappointed. Eventually I decided to ignore the recipe and go my own way with it! This recipe is a bit fiddly in places but overall quite simple and looks rather cool!
4 sheets gelatine
90g caster sugar
550ml sparkling grape juice (the recipe said wine, I chose to drink the sparkling wine and eat the grape juice.)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
– Peel the oranges with a sharp serrated knife and cut the segments from the membranes, collect as much of the juice as you can and squeeze out the membranes.
– Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.
– Meanwhile heat the caster sugar and 100ml wine in a pan until the sugar is dissolved.
– Stir in the drained gelatine over a low heat.
– Add the rest of the wine and the saved orange juice and leave to cool.
– Stir in the pomegranate seeds and divide between for serving glasses.
– Add the orange segments.
– Cool overnight in the fridge.
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.
A completely new recipe for me here. I saw the recipe in Olive magazine while on holiday and scribbled down the list of ingredients on a post it note. I never manage to write down instructions other than the temperature and cooking time so, as usual, I winged it. Occasionally I manage to scribble down a word or two of instruction like “mix”, “boil” or “melt” and an arrow but it is rare! If I were organised I’d remember where I saw recipes or tear them out or something but organised I definitely am not! Despite making it up as I went along I am very pleased with this. It’s lovely, sticky, orangey and moist but you can still hold a slice in your hand to eat it. I thought it looked a little boring on its own so I added a glace icing to give it a little boost.
For the cake:
110g butter, softened
180g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 orange, grated
180g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk
For the syrup:
juice of 2 oranges*
3 tbsp lemon juice
100g golden caster sugar
For the icing:
2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of icing sugar
1 spoonful of lemon juice
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4. Grease and line a large loaf tin** with baking paper.
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
– Beat in the eggs and orange zest.
– Fold in the flour and baking powder then add the milk and mix well.
– Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes.
– Put all of the syrup ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle boil for a five minutes. Do not let it boil over!
– To check if the cake is ready test with a skewer and if the skewer comes out clean then stab with the skewer all over.
– Keeping the cake in the tin pour the syrup over it a bit at a time and leave it for at least an hour until all of the liquid is absorbed.
– Remove the cake from the tin and put on a plate.
– Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar together until it reaches a smooth, runny consistency and either drizzle over the cake with a spoon or fill a small plastic bag with the icing and then cut the corner off it. Zig zag back and forth until the desired effect is reached.
*I take the zest off the second orange as well and store it in a bag in the freezer for use in another recipe.
** I think my loaf tin might be a 2lb one but I have two and one is tiny and the other large. Any large loaf tin would do I think.