Baking Fever at Christmas
Even if you never bake at any other time of the year, at Christmas there is something about the scent of cinnamon and cloves hanging in the air that makes us all want to don our aprons and get stuck in in the kitchen. That’s why we’ve put together some delicious, impressive bakes for you to wow your guests with (and enjoy yourself!).
Mini Maple Bundt Cakes (serves 12)
Recipe from www.maplefromcanada.co.uk
4 firm clementines or oranges
150g soft butter
130g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
150g self-raising flour
30g delicate-tasting golden maple syrup
150g icing sugar for glaze
- Preheat oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Butter one silicone swirl 6-cup mould or line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake cases.
- Zest 4 clementines or oranges and squeeze the juice of 1. Reserve a little of the zest for decoration.
- Place the butter, caster sugar and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy, about 5-7 minutes by hand or 3 minutes with an electric whisk. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition; add a little flour if the mixture curdles. Fold in the rest of the flour, and clementine zest leaving some to garnish.
- Divide half the mixture between the silicone moulds and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and just firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining mixture if using the silicone moulds. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn out of the mould and put on a wire rack with baking paper underneath.
- Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add 5-6 teaspoons of the clementine juice to the icing sugar; beat until it makes a thin, runny icing. Pour over the warm cakes for decoration.
Chocolate Turnip Yule Log (serves 8-10)
Recipe from Blackberry Cottage: Cakes with Secret Ingredients from AUBERGINE to ZUCCHINI by Kate Saunders. Available from www.blackberrycottagefayre.co.uk priced at £24.99.
70g caster sugar
3 medium free-range eggs
60g self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
80g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
175g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Avocado and chocolate icing
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Line a 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
- Peel, dice and steam the turnip until soft, then blitz in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth. Leave to one side to cool.
- Whisk the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. When it’s cool, fold in the turnip puree. Sift the flour and cocoa powder on top, then gently fold in until nicely combined.
- Pour the whole lot evenly into the prepared Swiss roll tin. Pop into the middle of the preheated oven to bake for 8-10 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- When it’s ready, carefully turn the cake out onto a lightly sugared piece of greaseproof paper. Peel off the baking parchment and neaten the edges with a quick trim, if required. Allow the sponge to cool for 3 minutes – don’t let it go cold or it’ll be difficult to roll.
- Score one short side with a sharp knife, about 1cm in from the edge, then using the greaseproof paper, roll up from the scored side. Rest it, with the seam on the bottom, to finish cooling.
- Now for the filling. Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- The final stage, building your yule log. Unroll the sponge, then, using a palette knife, spread the filling evenly over the inner surface. Using the greaseproof paper, carefully roll the sponge back up, placing it seam-side down again. Cut the end diagonally and place it on the side of the roll, to make it look like a V-shaped log.
- Cover with avocado and chocolate icing, then use a fork to score lines to make it look like bark. Finish with a snow-like dusting of icing sugar.
Baked & Spiced Pink Lady® Apples with Pink Peppercorns (serves 4)
4 Pink Lady® apples, unpeeled
50g dried cranberries
1tbsp pink peppercorns
50g soft brown sugar
50g mixed candied peel
100ml white wine, apple juice or water
- Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
- Pour boiling water over the currants, cranberries and pink peppercorns to just cover, and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
- Mix the brown sugar and mixed candied peel together with the Cointreau.
- Drain the currants and add to the sugar mixture, stirring well.
- Core the apples and use the tip of a sharp knife to cut around the diameter of each apple to prevent the skins from bursting.
- Place in an ovenproof dish and fill each one to overflowing with the fruit mixture.
- Add the wine, water or juice to the dish and bake for 35 minutes or until tender.
- When serving, drizzle with the sweet juices left behind, making sure a few pink peppercorns are visible on top.
Boodles Mulberry Delight: Gin-Infused Vegan Christmas Cake (serves 15)
Launching exclusively in Lily Vanilli’s bakery on Columbia Road throughout December, these bespoke cakes are priced at £4, or via the email, email@example.com
220g plain flour
200g caster sugar
225ml soy (or other non-dairy) milk
80ml olive oil
15ml Boodles Mulberry Gin
15ml white vinegar
1tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
15ml Boodles Mulberry Gin
125g icing sugar (you may want to add a little more or less – just add until you get a smooth consistency you like)
Quick gin raspberry jam:
2tbsp Boodles Mulberry Gin
Dried mulberries (optional)
Edible gold powder (optional)
Nutmeg to grate
Rosemary/flower to garnish
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Combine the sugar, baking soda and salt evenly with the nutmeg.
- Combine the soy milk, gin, olive oil and vinegar and whisk together with the dry ingredients until you have a nice smooth batter.
- Divide the mixture into individual cake tins (ideally mini brioche tins) greased with a little more olive oil, filling 3/4 of the way to the top but you could use a cupcake pan, well greased with olive oil. Pop 2 raspberries in each.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- Whilst the cakes are baking, start on the jam. Heat the raspberries and gin in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium-low heat until thickening and the fruit falls apart (around 10 minutes). Leave to cool completely before straining through a fine mesh sieve.
- For the icing, combine gin and icing sugar in a bowl with a whisk until you have a smooth, thick icing.
- Once the cakes are cool, pipe or spoon on a drizzle of icing. Fill with jam and garnish with the herbs, flowers and mulberries dusted with gold.
Divine Mont Blanc Roulade by Linda Collister
For the meringue:
4 large free-range egg whites, at room temperature
A large pinch of cream of tartar
225g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
Divine Cocoa Powder for dusting
For the chocolate & chestnut cream:
200ml whipping cream
100g Divine Dark Chocolate, 70% or 85% cocoa solids
1 x 250g can Crème de Marrons (sweetened chestnut puree)
Marrons glaces, grated chocolate or chocolate curls
20x30cm swiss roll tin, lightly oiled and lined with non-stick baking paper (not greaseproof)
- Preheat the oven to 150°C, 300°F, Gas 2.
- Put the egg whites in to a spotlessly clean large bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until the mixture stands in stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted. Mix the sugar and cornflour and whisk into the egg whites, a heaped tablespoon at a time, to make a stiff glossy meringue. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly. Put a little cocoa powder – about a teaspoon – into a fine sieve or tea-strainer and lightly dust the top of the meringue.
- Bake in the heated oven for 50 minutes until puffed, lightly coloured and crisp to touch (the centre layer of the meringue will still be slightly soft). Turn out the meringue onto a cooling rack covered with a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then carefully peel off the lining paper. Leave until completely cold.
- Break up the chocolate and place in a bowl along with 100ml of the cream. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming hot but not boiling water and leave to melt gently then stir until smooth. Remove from heat, leave to cool at room temperature.
- Whip the remaining cream in a bowl until thick and bring to room temperature. Fold in the melted chocolate mix. Then fold in the Crème de Marrons until evenly blended.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the meringue. Roll up the roulade from one long side, using one hand to guide the meringue into shape and the other to use the paper to support the meringue, and pull it into shape as it rolls up. Don’t worry if it cracks! Once it has become a ‘roulade’ use the paper around it to hold it in shape, wrapping it firmly. Chill for an hour or so before serving. To decorate – roll the roulade onto a serving platter or board, discarding the paper. The top should be speckled with the cocoa powder, and slightly cracked. Decorate with marrons glaces and plenty of grated chocolate or chocolate curls. Best eaten the same day.
British Cassis Mince Pies
For the mincemeat:
200g frozen blackcurrants (optional)
500g muscatel or Californian raisins (or a mixture)
500g Bramley apples , peeled, cored and chopped fairly small
2 x 250g boxes shredded beef suet (or vegetarian)
100g whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
350g natural demerara sugar
100g dark muscovado sugar
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
2 rounded tsp ground mixed spice
1 large, juicy lemon
250g whole mixed peel, chopped into small dice
75ml dark rum
225ml British Cassis
For the sweet pastry:
500g Plain flour
275g Unsalted butter
200g Icing sugar
4 egg yolks
- Wash the dried fruit thoroughly in a colander under the cold tap. Tip the fruit on to clean tea towels and dry by patting in the cloths. Put the dried fruit in a very large bowl with the apples, suet, almonds, blackcurrants, sugars and spices. Grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl, then squeeze in the juice. Tip in the peel and the British Cassis and the dark rum.
- Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly – it’s easiest to do this with your (very clean) hands. Cover and leave to stand for 24 hours.
- Pack the mincemeat into sterilised or dishwasher-clean jars (Kilner jars are ideal) and top with greaseproof paper jam covers. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool place. The mincemeat will last from one year to the next, but it’s best used within 6 months.
- Sift the flour and icing sugar together rub in the butter, mix in the egg yolks to make a paste. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20mins before use.
- Make mince pies as usual, and serve with an additional dash of the Cassis and a swirl of whipped cream.
Ian Cumming’s Merry Berry Steam Pudding
150ml Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial
150g cranberries (fresh or frozen but if frozen defrost first)
120g unsalted butter
120g light brown sugar
Generous pinch of salt
2 large eggs
120g self raising flour
1tsp mixed spice
- Put the cranberries and cordial in a fairly large saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes until the cranberries have softened and quite a bit of the liquid has boiled away. Add the honey and mix it in.
- Butter a 1.2 litre pudding basin.
- Pour the berry and honey mixture into the basin.
- Beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each one.
- Sieve in the flour and the mixed spice and gently fold it in.
- Carefully fold in the milk and then finally the blueberries. Pour this on top of the berry mixture in the basin.
- Fill a large pan with enough water to come halfway up the side of the pudding bowl. Bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile, take a large piece of baking parchment, put a pleat in it and put it over the pudding. Then take a piece of tin foil, put a pleat in that and put that over the parchment. Tie some string around the rim and then use some extra string to make a handle in order to lift the pudding into the pan of boiling water.
- Boil for 2 hours, occasionally checking that there is sufficient water in the pan.
- Use the string handle to remove the pudding from the pan. Snip off the string and remove the foil and parchment. Place a plate on top and carefully invert it all.
- Serve immediately with custard, cream or ice cream.