I seem to be posting quite a few sweet treats at the moment but we have been eating these lovely things over quite a decent amount of time to try and keep some semblance of a waistline! This cake is extremely moist and tasty a…
This was the first Christmas that I have attempted a gluten free Christmas cake. Seeing other people making cakes inspired me to do the same plus Christmas cake is one of my favourites! I searched the internet for recipes and poured over many of them before coming up with a highbred version of my own, particularly packed with fruit and nuts. This is a very rich and filling cake suitable for any celebration not just Christmas. I hope if you try making it you enjoy it and I would love to hear what you think.
For a 25cm tin greased and lined with baking paper
Oven at 175c or gas 4
1kg mixed dried fruit whatever you like. I used Sultanas,
currants, mixed peel, dates and cranberries.
Could also use apricots, crystallised ginger, figs, raisins etc.
100g chopped almonds
100g chopped walnuts
100g halved glace cherries
Zest of an orange
200ml orange juice (you can swap half of this for brandy)
3tsp vanilla extract
250g soft brown sugar
250g buckwheat flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cloves
The first job is to chop 1kg of dried fruit into a large bowl, add the orange zest and the orange juice (switching half of the orange juice for brandy if you would like). This needs to soak overnight or at least for three hours to make the fruit plump and juicy.
The next job is to cream together the butter and sugar (I actually used white sugar here as I couldn’t find soft brown but I would prefer soft brown in the future). When the mixture has lightened in colour and become very light in texture add in one egg at a time whisking well. If the mixture starts to curdle, as it probably will, add a dessert spoon of flour with each subsequent egg. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and spices and add to the mixture. Fold in gently until it is all mixed together.
Add your chopped nuts and cherries to the soaked fruit mix and then add all of that into the cake mix. Fold through the fruit until it is very well mixed together. Spoon into your pre greased and lined tin and gently level off the top.
Pop in the oven and cook for between 1.5 & 2 hours. It will depend on your oven exactly how long so keep an eye on it after about 1hour if the top looks like it is getting too dark cover with foil or baking paper to prevent it burning while the middle is still cooking. When a skewer comes out clean you know it’s done. Take out of the oven and leave to cool entirely then remove from the tin. If you would like while the cake is still warm from the oven poke some holes in the top with a skewer and spoon over some brandy.
When it is totally cooled down the cake can be stored away for a couple of weeks to enrich the flavour. But if you’re like me and can’t wait then it’s time to decorate! warm up some apricot jam in a small pan with a little water so it becomes more like a syrup. Brush the cake all over with this so the marzipan will stick nicely. Roll out two long strips each about half the circumference of the cake and a circular piece for the top. Wrap the sides first then place the top piece on and press together the joins.
Next the icing. I used ready made icing which simply needed rolling out to a big circle and placing on top of the marzipan with some gentle shaping to get it in place. trim any excess off and keep for decorations on the top.
For this part I had expert help! we coloured some marzipan green and some red (although this turned out to be more of a pink!) We just had a lot of fun creating Christmas themed bits and bobs until the extra icing and marzipan ran out. Then arranged them on top of the cake. With the addition of some ready made tubes of coloured icing to draw on the details and a genuine piece of carrot for the snowman’s nose. Just finished off with a dusting of icing sugar! We were very proud of our handy work and managed not to cut into it for a few days just so we could admire all the work! When we did cut it the inside was nicely moist and tasted delicious, good job done and I will definitely be using this recipe next year!
Over the summer I had the joy of going to Andalucia Spain to look after these two beauties. They are Pippin (the ginger one) and Luna. They have beautiful natures and were such good company.
Whilst there each day I walked past a row of fig trees along the road that were laden with fruit and no one seemed to be collecting it much had fallen on the pavement and split open spilling out their velvety red insides. I decided to collect some and ended up with a bag full! There was no way I could eat them all before they went bad so the only option left was to cook them up and make some preserve and that way I could bring a little taste of Spain home with me.
The place I was staying had a lemon tree so I picked a lemon to use to. First of all I washed and cut the figs into four and then added the zest and juice of a large lemon.
It was all placed in a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly heated until the fruit started to soften down. Add some cinnamon to taste (I added two heaped teaspoons full). Then add some sweetness. I had agave syrup, which I had bought thinking it was honey, doh. So I used that up which was just over three quaters of a bottle. It actually was a good choice as it’s not too sweet.
Then bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. The fruit will break down and become a lovely thick sauce but at the same time will retain some of the chunks of fruit.
While the fruit is cooking prepare some jars by boiling them in a big pan to sterilise. Finally add some cubes of butter and stir through until it melts it will give a lovely shine to the mixture and a buttery taste. Fill up with the preserve while the jars are still warm put a circle of greasproof paper on the top and put the lid on tight. Leave to cool. Keep in the fridge as there is not loads of sugar to keep as long out of the fridge but it will last a month or so in the fridge. It was very lovely on toast and crumpets but also with museli and yogurt or even warmed up and poured over a nice vanilla icecream.