Christmas

Top Tips for the Perfect Christmas Cake

The perfect Christmas Cake

Making the Christmas cake is a precious part of the festive period; a tradition I always look forward to.

 

With Christmas music and the twinkle of fairy lights (yes I even have a tree in the kitchen!) in the background, stirring and decorating the cake is joyful.

I favour a slightly lighter cake and always use the classic Boiled Fruit Cake recipe, which our customers have been baking for decades.

I’ve heard many lovely stories about people using this recipe for weddings and special birthdays as well as Christmas.

Once the cake is cold, apply a thin layer of marzipan:
1. Sprinkle icing sugar onto a clean work surface and onto a rolling pin.
2. Roll out 300g (10oz) marzipan to about 3mm (1/8in) thick.
3. Brush the top of the cake with warm plum or apricot jam.
4. Place the cake upside down on the marzipan and push down slightly. Cut around the cake about 1cm (1/3in) larger than its top.
5. Turn the cake over and press the marzipan down all around the top.
6. Measure the height of the cake and re-roll the marzipan into a long strip to the same size.
7. Brush the sides of the cake with the jam and then roll the marzipan around the circumference, sticking it to the cake as you go.

And for the icing:
1. Whisk 2 egg whites in a mixing bowl until frothy and then beat in 450g (1lb) icing sugar, a little at a time. You can use an electric whisk for this at first but then use a wooden spoon or the icing sugar will cover you and the kitchen!
2. Beat in 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp glycerine.
3. Spread all over the cake; to the desired texture and allow to firm up.

For the decoration:
This is personal to you. I’ve added gingerbread stars (here’s a gorgeous recipe for these) and sugar snowflakes, a dusting of icing sugar and finished with a ribbon, but choose what you like most – you could use some wintry foliage, or dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks, or the classic cake decorations you have used for years.

With my mum I would decorate the cake with a snowy scene adorned with little pottery snowmen and figures on sledges – I think some were older than me! Mum tells me she still has them, so I’ve requested them for next year’s cake. Happy memories.

 

 

Emily Davenport

Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Recipe of the Week: Festive Glories

Festive Glories

Festive Glories

These little puds are really easy to make and the perfect idea for using up leftovers.

Yum!

GO TO RECIPE

 

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5 Christmas Favourites

Treat friends and family to fabulous food this Christmas!

 

Chestnut & Parsnip Dip

Chestnut & Parsnip Dip

 

Roast Guinea Fowl

 

Sparkly Sloe Gin Jellies

 

Festive Glories

 

Gluten-Free Mince Pies

 

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The Ultimate Christmas Menu

The Ultimate Christmas Menu

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The Ultimate Christmas Menu

Make Christmas day extra special this year with these amazing recipes, simple enough for anyone and everyone to achieve.

  • Turkey with Sherry Gravy
  • Potatoes Dauphinois
  • Braised Red Cabbage with Blackberries
  • Cinnamon Spiced Cranberry Sauce
  • Syllabub Trifle

Enjoy!

 

Turkey with Sherry Gravy

Turkey with Sherry Gravy

For a really festive meal, treat your guests to this turkey recipe on Christmas Day. The lemon, parsley and thyme stuffing is good to eat cold, too.

15 minutes preparation time 4½–4¾ hours cooking time plus resting
714 Kcal per portion
35.4g fat per portion of which 17.9g is saturated
6 servings with plenty left for eating cold

For the stuffing:
Fresh white breadcrumbs 250g (9oz)
Chopped parsley 6–8 tbsp
Chopped thyme 1–2 tbsp
Lemon 1, grated rind
Butter 110g (4oz), melted
Egg 1
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the turkey:
Turkey 5–6kg (11–13lb)
Turkey or chicken stock 600ml (1 pint)
Butter 50g (2oz), softened
Herbs to garnish

For the gravy:
Plain flour 3 tbsp
Gravy browning optional
Sherry 2 tbsp
Rosemary leaves to garnish
Lemon thyme leaves to garnish

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/ Gas 5. To make the stuffing, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together, taking care not to press it together too much – it should remain light and open in texture.

2 To prepare the turkey, rinse out the inside and pat dry. Press the stuffing into the neck cavity, shaping any extra stuffing into balls, which can be cooked on a small baking tray at the top of the oven for 15–20 minutes.

3 Pull the neck skin over the stuffing and secure with a skewer or a couple of wooden cocktail sticks. Weigh the turkey to calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb). A turkey with stuffing that weighs about 6kg (13lb) will take approximately 4½–4¾ hours to cook.

4 Place the turkey in a roasting tin, pour the stock around it and spread the softened butter over the skin. Cover with foil and place towards the bottom of the oven (the shelf above the turkey at the top of the oven can be used for roasting vegetables).

5 Keep the turkey covered with foil until the last 45 minutes of the calculated cooking time, then remove foil, baste and return to the oven until cooked through.

6 To test if the turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the flesh of the thigh with a skewer – if the juices that run out are clear, it’s cooked, but if the juices are still pink, then the bird needs further cooking. When cooked, remove it from the oven, and transfer to a warmed serving plate. Cover the turkey with clean foil and leave it to ‘rest’ in a warm place for 20–30 minutes as this will make carving easier.

7 To make the gravy, pour the juices from the roasting tin into a fat separator or jug. Return 3 tbsp of the fat to the roasting tin and skim as much fat as possible off the rest of the juices and discard it.

8 Place the roasting tin on the hob and stir in the flour for the gravy. Cook over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes, then slowly stir in skimmed turkey juices. Bring to the boil and, if it is too thick, then stir in some boiling water to give the desired consistency and add a little gravy browning if liked. Stir in the sherry and season to taste. Keep piping hot until serving and pour into a warmed gravy boat.

9 Serve the turkey garnished with rosemary and lemon thyme and accompanied with stuffing balls, roast potatoes, steamed vegetables, and orange halves stuffed with lightly cooked cranberries.

 

Potatoes Dauphinois

Potatoes Dauphinois

Time 1½ hrs
Serves 4
Calories 471
Fat 36g of which 20.8g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Butter 15g (½oz)
Potatoes 600g (1lb 6oz), peeled and thinly sliced (thickness of a pound coin)
Whole milk 175ml (6fl oz)
Double cream 200ml (7fl oz)
Nutmeg ½ tsp
Cheese such as Cheddar or Gruyère 50g (2oz), finely grated

1 Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Grease a 900ml (1½ pint) oval ovenproof dish with butter.

2 Place potatoes into medium sized pan with milk, double cream and nutmeg. Bring slowly up to boil on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3 Using a slotted spoon, strain potatoes, reserving liquid. Carefully arrange potatoes in dish, seasoning as you layer, and making sure they overlap neatly. Pour liquid over potatoes and sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

 

Braised red cabbage with blackberries

Braised Red Cabbage with Blackberries

Time 45 mins
Serves 6
Calories 97
Fat 4g of which 2.2g is saturated
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians

Butter 25g (1oz)
Onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
Red cabbage 500g (1lb 2oz), quartered, core removed, thinly sliced
Light muscovado sugar 2 tbsp
Red wine vinegar 2 tbsp
Ground mixed spice 1 tsp
Apple juice 150ml (¼ pint)
Blackberries 225g (8oz)

1 Heat butter in a saucepan, add onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring until softened. Stir in cabbage then sugar, vinegar, spice and apple juice. Season with salt and pepper.

2 Cover and cook gently for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender. Add blackberries and cook gently for 10 minutes more.

3 Spoon into a serving dish and serve with roast turkey, chicken or casseroled lamb or beef.

 

Cinnamon Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cinnamon Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Time 15 mins
Serves 6
Calories 96
Fat 0g of which 0g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Cranberries fresh or frozen 300g (11oz)
Caster sugar 125g (4½oz)
Fresh orange juice 125ml  (4fl oz)
Cointreau or brandy 1 tbsp, optional
Cinnamon stick 1

1 Put all ingredients in medium sized heavy-based pan and mix well. Heat gently, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring slowly up to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally.

2 Leave to cool – the cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve warm or cold with ham or turkey. This can be made a day in advance, cooled, poured into a rigid plastic container, covered and chilled overnight ready to reheat on Christmas Day.

 

Syllabub Trifle

Syllabub Trifle

Time 20 minutes plus chilling.
Per portion: 395 Kcal
27g fat (15.1g saturated)
Serves 6
Suitable for vegetarians

Trifle sponges 4
Raspberry jam 110g (4oz)
Lemon 1, grated zest and juice
Caster sugar 50g (2oz)
Dry cider with elderflower 120ml (4fl oz)
Double cream 300ml carton
Mixed frozen fruits 200g (7oz), just defrosted

1 Slice each sponge cake in half horizontally. Spread jam over half of the slices, then cover with the remaining slices, cut to fit and place in six individual glasses in a single layer. Spread any remaining jam over the top of the sponge cakes.

2 Place most of the lemon zest, the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Add the cider and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle a little of this liquid over the trifle sponges until just moist.

3 Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the remaining cider mixture.

4 Spoon the fruit over the sponge and then cover with the flavoured cream. Top with any remaining lemon zest. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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