Baking our Christmas Cake

The other week me, Wriggler and Bruiser baked this years Christmas cake. This was the second time id baked the cake. In previous years, my Mum had always took great pleasure in baking us our yearly christmas cake but. last year I decided that I would use my Mums Christmas Cake recipe and give it a go for myself. It was a great success.

This year I wanted to get the boys involved just like my Mum did with me and my Brothers when we were children.

Both Wriggler and Bruiser love to bake and help cook so it didn’t surprise me that they were both very eager to get stuck in. In fact they took over, I barely got chance to do any of it myself!

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First of all we got the butter and sugar creamed together. Then the boys took turns to add a little spiced flour then a little egg and other liquid ingredients until they were all mixed in.

Bruiser got stuck in scraping the mixture from the sides of the bowl (taking great care not to get even a tiny bit of mixture on his fingers) before they added the fruit, one spoonful at a time;

Once all the ingredients were added, it was time to each give the mixture a hand-stir while we made our christmas wishes. This was a tradition that my Mum always did. Id always thought it was a lovely idea so this year for the first time we did it too. 

That was it, the mixture was added to the cake tin and left to slowly bake in the oven…. All that was left was to well, clean the utensils 😉

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While the cake matures in the coming weeks, we just need to decide how we want to decorate the cake. Last year we did Snowmen and a Christmas Tree. But, this year Wriggler has some great ideas, so watch this space!

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The Perfect Sponge Cake

This little recipe for me makes the perfect sponge cake. You can tailor it to each individual taste like ginger, chocolate or lemon.

What I like about this recipe is that its very easy and there is no messing around, you literally throw everything into the bowl, mix it all together and bung it straight into the oven. What could go wrong?

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For a plain sandwich cake you will need:

5oz Self Raising Flour

5oz of soft Butter or Margarine

5oz sugar

a pinch of salt

3 large eggs

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For Chocolate Cake; substitute 4tablespoons of flour for 4tablespoons of Cocoa Powder (I use hot chocolate powder)

For Ginger Cake; add 2tablespoons of Ground Ginger

 For Lemon Cake; add the grated rind of one large Lemon

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Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas.4.

Line and grease two 7inch cake baking tins

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir. Beat until it is smooth for a couple of minutes by hand or with an electric mixer.

Divide the mixture evenly between the baking tins and level off each surface.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack.

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Fill and top the cake as you desire. As you can see, I prefer to use chocolate 😀

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This sandwich cake recipe makes the perfect cake base for Birthday Cakes. Usually the two layers is sufficient but if you want more layers, double up the ingredients. Any left over cake mix can be used in paper cases to make little buns.

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Have a go, it’s a great recipe to get the kids involved too.

ps… don’t forget to lick the bowl 😉

Fruit Scones

Just for the Record, its pronounced Scone to rhyme with ‘cone’! 🙂

I always used to love my Mums scones when I was little, warm from the oven with lashings of butter and jam. On a holiday one year in Devon, we discovered Cream Tea’s and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. I think the combination of Jam with Clotted Cream makes my Mums scones even better!

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You will need;

10oz Self Raising Flour
3oz Butter
pinch of salt
3oz Sugar
3oz Saltanas/Currents/Raisins (your choice)
1 Egg
Dash of Milk
Sugar for sprinking

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Pre-heat the oven to Gas.8/230C/450F

Line and grease 3-4 baking trays

fruit scones

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.

Add the butter and rub together to make bread like crumbs.

Add the sugar and the fruit and mix well with your fingers.

fruit scones

Make a dip in the mixture.

In a jug beat the egg with a dash of milk so you have about 10floz.

Pour this into the bowl.

Stir with a knife until you have a dough.

Lightly dust the side with flour so the dough doesn’t stick and roll out the mixture until the dough is about and inch deep.

Cut out the scones with a small cutter.

Place scones on the greased baking trays.

To glaze the scones, beat another egg with a dash of milk and use a brush to coat the top of each scone (or use your fingers) and sprinkle of a little sugar

fruit scones

Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes (turning half way).

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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Serve and eat as desired but I believe they are best served with Jam (traditionally Strawberry Jam) and Clotted Cream for ‘Afternoon Tea’

fruit scones

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Mmmmm Delicious

Happy Months (Mince Pies)

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Christmas preparations are well under way now. Think its time I made my first lot of Mince Pie’s… or Happy Months as they were called when I was growing up.

(There is a tradition that says for each mince pie eaten over the festive period one will get a happy month in the following year)… best get eating 🙂

Last year, I used my Mum’s last ever jar of homemade Mincemeat. My Brother has carried on that tradition so this years, will made using my Brothers Mincemeat.

Happy Month Mince Pie’s

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Ingredients

(makes 8oz of pastry which makes approx 12-15 mince pies… want more, simply double the ingredients!)

8oz Self Raising Flour

4oz Butter

1oz Sugar

75ml of cold water

(my Mum always insisted on SF flour and not plain. She said it made a softer thicker pastry that melted in your mouth… she was right :))

What else

A jar of Mincemeat

1 egg beaten with a splash of milk to coat the top of the pies

A sprinkling of sugar

A little water to stick the tops on the pies

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Rub together the butter and flour and sugar in a bowl to make fine crumbs.

pastry crumbs

pastry crumbs

Add the water and sir in with a knife until you have a dough that isn’t too sticky or too crumbly.

Pastry dough

Pastry dough

Roll out the pastry on a flat surface and using the pastry cutter (i use the largest one). You will need 12-15 of the largest circles and 12-15 of the medium sized ones to top your pies.

Rolled and cut pastry cases

Rolled and cut pastry cases

Add the pastry circles to your baking tray, then add a generous amount of mincemeat to each of the pastry cases.

generously filled pastry cases

generously filled pastry cases

Next, use a little water and using your fingers cover one side of the pastry case tops and then stick them down onto the mincemeat filled pastry cases. Be sure to press down round the edge to make sure they stick together well.  Then, using your fingers again, dip them into the egg and milk mix and cover the tops of the pies evenly and sprinkle with sugar. Im quite generous with the sugar as it makes the tops of the bun quite crunchy. Once done, use some baking scissors and snip twice on the tops of the pies.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins or until golden on top! Then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

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Give them a go, they’re quick and simple to make and they taste delicious!

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Mums Christmas Cake

When I think of all the amazing calorie rich indulgent Christmas treats i’ve tucked into over the years, my Mum’s Christmas cake comes to mind every time.

Given that we are now less than 90 sleeps away, I think it’s definitely time to get my cake on the go so its ready in time for Christmas AND I’m going to share it with you all.

This cake goes back to my great grandma and she in turn passed it on to my Mum.

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Ingredients:

8 oz of butter
8 oz natural dark muscovado sugar
1 (level) tsp black treacle
4 medium eggs
10 oz plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 (level) tsp soluble coffee powder or essence
1 & ½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp of sherry
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz currents
8 oz sultanas
4 oz chopped mixed peel
4 oz chopped glazed cherries
8 oz raisins
4 oz flaked almonds

All good to go!

All good to go!

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The day before you make your cake, mix all the fruit together in a bowl and add 4 tbsp of brandy, 4 tbsp of rum and 4 tbsp of sherry, more if you’d prefer 😉 Mix well and keep covered with some cling film.  Keep giving it the odd shake to keep mixing it up and leave overnight.

all the dried fruit mixed together and soaked over night in 5 tbsp of brandy, 5 tbsp of rum and 5tbsp of sherry and covered in clingfilm.

all the dried fruit mixed together and soaked over night in 5 tbsp of brandy, 5 tbsp of rum and 5 tbsp of sherry and cover in cling film.

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Prepare

Grease and line a 7-8in cake tin (square or round, your choice) with grease-proof paper.

lined and greased cake tin

(that cake tin was my Mum’s and her Nan’s!!)

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, coffee powder, mixed spice and ginger into a large bowl (this is the spiced flour).

Beat the eggs in a jug and add to it; the vanilla extract, brandy, rum and almond extract.

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Cream the fat and sugar together well and add the treacle.

Add a small amount of the egg mixture to the fat, beat well.

Add a tbsp of the spiced flour to the mixture and mix well.

Add some more egg, beat well and add a 2nd tbsp of spiced flour.

Add the rest of the egg gradually and beat well between each addition.

Add the remaining spiced flour.

Lastly add the dried fruits and almonds and mix well.

ready to add the fruit

ready to add the fruit

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Pour the mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin.

After adding the mixture to the cake tin, make a dip in the center of the mixture of about an inch. this stops the cake rising too much in the middle and thus cracking and burning.

use the spatula to create the dip

use the spatula to create the dip

Bake in the middle of a (preheated) warm oven (gas 3/325F/160C) for 1 hour.

Reduce heat to very cool (gas 1/275F/140C) for the last 2 hours checking it after one hour and every 15 minutes thereafter.

To check to see if the cake is done, you will need a fine instrument to check that it is cooked in the middle, (i use a kebab skewer) by inserting it diagonally around the center of the cake. Leave it in for a second and withdraw. If the skewer is clean then it’s cooked. If there is still some cake stuck to the skewer then return it to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Keep doing this until the skewer is removed clean.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tin until it is cold.

Cooked and Cooling

Cooked and Cooling

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When it is cold, remove from tin and remove the grease-proof paper. Re-wrap in fresh grease-proof paper.

Cake 'fed' and ready to be wrapped up

Cake ‘fed’ and ready to be wrapped up

At this point my Mum would use the skewer and make lots of insertions all over the top of the cake going almost all the way through and then ‘feed the cake’ some brandy by pouring little amounts over the surface of the cake making sure it goes down the tiny holes and rubbing any remaining brandy over the surface to make sure it all gets absorbed. She would then repeat this process for the bottom of the cake 24-hours later. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.

Always be sure to wrap the cake in grease-proof paper well followed by foil and store in a tin for a few months until you are ready to decorate. Do not wrap in foil on its own as the alcohol reacts with the alcohol.

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Fancy decorating the cake??

Christmas Cake

check out my post on decorating your cake by clicking this link

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Then sit back and relax with a slice….

slice of cake

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Don’t forget to wear your Santa Hat while you make it 🙂

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