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Swedish Almond Bun

I’ve been making this deliciously boozy, almond bun for a couple of years and surprisingly I haven’t yet posted it. Probably because I’ve been tweaking different elements of the recipe.

It’s based on a recipe for Kanellängd, in James Morton’s book Super Sourdough, a sourdough version of the famous Swedish enriched dough.

My version is sourdough too, and while straightforward in its steps, it’s tricky to handle as the dough is enriched and it’s sourdough!

It’s full of alcohol soaked fruit and frangipane, an almond paste and is very yummy.

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a go. It really follows the steps for making filled scrolls, except in the shaping. I’ve simplified shaping by making a giant ring, which is quite forgiving.

It’s rich, indulgent and very moreish!

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

10g salt

50g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100g milk

2 large free-range eggs

100g butter

Filling

250g of raisins/sultanas/sour cherries/ cranberries in any combination

50g rum or brandy or port

Frangipane

100g ground almonds

100g butter

100g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup

Topping

20g flaked almonds

Lemon Icing

Juice of half a lemon

100g icing sugar

Method

In a large bowl add all the dough ingredients except the butter. Mix to a rough dough, cover the bowl with a plastic shower cap or a tea towel. Leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Put the dried fruit into the alcohol to soak.

Make the frangipane by whizzing all the ingredients in a food processor until combined.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Using a dough hook of an electric mixer, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until completely smooth. Now add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. Mix until the butter is completely incorporated and the mixture is soft, smooth and the dough “windowpanes”. Cover the dough again and leave to prove for 4 hours. The dough will have risen slightly.

Drain the alcohol soaked fruit. Spread the frangipane over the dough rectangle. Scatter the soaked dried fruit over the frangipane.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can. Move the roll, using a peel or a spatula, to the lined baking tray. Curve the ends of the roll so they meet in a ring.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. With a floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to a rough rectangle, usually about 30cm in width by 40-50cm in length. The dough will be very soft, so treat it gently.

You will be aiming for a ring shape, but be careful in this process of acquiring the shape that you don’t tear the dough or it becomes misshapen, as it’s so soft. If the ring doesn’t quite meet in the middle – that’s fine too, you will have a rather nice horseshoe bun!

Scatter the flaked almonds over the bun before the final prove. Put the baking tray into a large plastic bag to prove. Leave at room temperature for an hour, then place into the fridge overnight or for 8-16 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 180 degrees C fan. Add a baking dish a quarter filled with water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking. Take the baking sheet out of the plastic bag and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the bun is a deep golden brown.

In the last few minutes of baking, heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat, or you could even microwave gently.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the top of the bun with the warmed golden syrup. To make the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Once the bun is quite cool, drizzle the lemon icing over the top. You end up with a triple topping of golden syrup, almonds and lemon icing. Delicious!

New Year’s Resolution Pancakes

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This recipe is named for those good intentions we have at the start of the New Year to eat more healthily. The recipe comes from Weight Watchers, a terrific organisation to help us get back to the straight and narrow after the excesses of the festive season!

It’s also called Two Ingredient Pancakes, as the basic pancake has only two ingredients, banana and eggs. To serve, I added fresh fruit and no-fat yoghurt, which still make it a low calorie brekkie! For a little bit of pizazz, serve the pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.

Ingredients 

1 medium banana

2 free-range egg whites

1 medium free-range egg

To serve, pineapple, raspberries, no-fat yoghurt and maple syrup or honey.

Method

Combine the banana,  egg whites and whole egg in a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. You don’t need cooking oil spray, but  spraying a little in the pan won’t hurt if you’re worried about the pancakes sticking. Drop a tablespoonful of the batter into the frying pan. Cook for 20 seconds on one side or until golden brown, then flip the pancake and cook for a further 20 seconds. You need to be careful cooking the pancakes as they brown very quickly. Repeat with the rest of the batter – you will probably get at least 4 medium pancakes.

Serve the pancakes topped with the no-fat yogurt, a pile of pineapple chunks*, fresh raspberries and a little maple syrup if you dare!

* A great idea to make the pineapple super sweet, is to dry fry the chunks in a frying pan over medium to high heat, for a minute or two – cooking carmelises the sugar – they taste fantastic!

Cherry Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Tart

This tart is an easy recipe to make for lunch or a simple supper. Cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese and caramelised onion make a tasty filling. Use store bought puff pastry and you could even use a good bought onion jam to make the recipe even easier.

I made mine in a rectangular flan tin, but a round one would do as well.

Ingredients

320g store-bought puff pastry (I used 2 sheets from a pack of Pampas puff pastry). Use more or less, if needed, to fit your tin.

For the caramelised onion:

1 red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Goats’ cheese – or similar crumbly soft cheese. You will crumble this into the tart, so quantities are flexible, about 100gm should be enough

15-20 cherry tomatoes, or more if you want to pack them in, on the vine

Fresh thyme leaves for scattering

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 180 degrees C fan. Grease a flan tin and fit with the puff pastry sheets which you have cut to shape.

Fry the red onion in the butter in a small frying pan over a low to medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the brown sugar to caramelize the onion and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Lay the caramelized onion onto the pastry base. Crumble the goats’ cheese into the tart. Cut some of the cherry tomatoes in half and place on top of the goats’ cheese, place a few whole ones on, too for effect.  Scatter a few fresh thyme leaves over the tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is nicely browned, the cheese melted and the tomatoes softened. Nice served with a green salad.

Beef, Chilli and Beans

Christmas Day is over, and maybe you’re looking for some tasty, easy to make dishes that don’t involve turkey or ham! This dish is a doddle to make, left overs keep well, and it freezes well if you want to make it in quantity.

It guest well with rice, pasta, polenta or just on its own! Kidney beans add both bulk and flavour to the dish. Serve it with extra fresh chilli on the side, sour cream or some grated cheese if you’re going Mexican.

You can throw this dish together provided you have some minced beef, as pretty much everything else would be pantry staples.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion

500g good quality beef mince

1 teaspoon chilli paste or chilli powder 

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato purée 

1 x 400g tin of kidney beans

Freshly ground salt and black pepper

Fresh chillies, sour cream, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese, parsley or coriander to serve

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Chop the onion finely, and fry over a medium heat until slightly softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the beef mince in small spoonfuls, breaking it up so that it cooks evenly. Fry until all the mince is brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chilli paste or powder. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, half a tin of water using the chopped tomato tin as a measure and the tomato purée. Drain the kidney beans and add to the frying pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture back to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and has thickened. If the mixture looks too dry, add a splash or two of water. 

Once cooked, serve straight away with some of the above accompaniments, or keep in the fridge for a day or so to serve later. It also freezes well.

You could easily double or triple the quantities to serve a crowd or batch freeze for later consumption.

Christmas Pudding Strudel

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Here’s a Christmas recipe from the vault, a tried and true method to turn Christmas Pudding into something delicious for those post Christmas Day meals.

The recipe is yet another great Jamie Oliver invention. It’s his Christmas Pudding Strudel, a lovely way to reinvent Christmas pudding leftovers and make something really yummy and quite special. It’s basically layers of filo pastry, filled with grated apple, pear or quince, crumbled Christmas pudding and a surprise chocolate centre.

You may have left overs to make the strudel…or you can buy a pudding at the supermarket on special after Christmas!

Ingredients

12 sheets filo pastry – if frozen, thaw.  I mention in my original post that perhaps you could use less filo, as 12 layers is a little too much

125 g butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100 g demerara sugar + more for dusting when serving

4 ginger nut biscuits

400 g leftover Christmas pudding

3 apples or pears or 2 quinces or a mixture of the three

50 g good-quality chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.  Lay out 6 sheets of filo pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel.
The filo should cover the tea towel completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends.

Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50 g of the sugar, then crumble over your ginger nut biscuits to add crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit, everything except the cores. (Jamie says to use the cores  – I don’t think you need them.) You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Christmas pudding, down the short side nearest the overhang. 

Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large nonstick baking tray. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. If it looks a bit rough, you could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking to make it neater. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp and golden. You may get a split once cooked – I agree with Jamie that that would add to the rustic effect!

Leave to cool, then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5 cm slices.

Note: This recipe makes quite a large strudel –the photos here are of half the strudel.

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Berries and Cheesecake Trifle

Here’s a trifle recipe for Christmas from the archives. I thought it worth posting now if you’re looking for ideas for interesting looking – and tasting – deserts for Christmas 2022.

The recipe is adapted from a recipe created by Queen Vanilla products and Dr Oetker products. I liked the idea of the cheesecake filling instead of custard and cream. The recipe also created some green chocolate bark, which I thought pretty festive too.

Ingredients

Cake and berries:

4 x 250g punnets berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any others you fancy). Frozen berries are fine too, I used a mixture of both.

A good slosh of an orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier)

A little caster sugar to taste if the berries are too sharp in flavour

2 sponge cake layers (bought is fine here as it’s only going to be dowsed in liqueur and berry juice)

Cheesecake filling:

280g cream cheese

90g unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

450 mls cream

Green chocolate bark:

150g original Oreos roughly blitzed in the food processor – you should have some bigger bits and some crumbs

300g white chocolate

A few drops green food colouring

Method

Combine all the berries in bowl, leaving a good handful for decorating the top of the trifle. You should cut the strawberries in halves unless they are tiny. Splosh on some orange liqueur, and add a little caster sugar to taste if the berries need sweetening. Leave for a few hours to allow the berries to release their juices.

Cut up the sponge into squares about 5 cms 0r 2 inches. It really doesn’t matter too much – they just need to be able to fit into your trifle bowl. You will also need to cut some odd shapes to fill in the gaps. Make a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl. Add a decent layer of berries, making sure you spoon some of the liquid over the cake so that it turns red.

To make the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add icing sugar gradually, beating till the mixture is well combined. Add the vanilla bean paste. Whip the cream in separate bowl until just thickened, then fold into the cheesecake mixture.

Add layer of cheesecake mixture to the berries layer in the trifle bowl.

Repeat the layering – sponge, berries and juices and cheesecake mixture, ending with a berry layer. The number of layers you get will depend on the size of your bowl and your generosity in layering. As you can see from the photo I got 3 layers of sponge and berries and 2 of cheesecake mixture. You should leave enough of the cheesecake mixture to decorate the top (3 tablespoons or so should do it). Refrigerate until ready to finish the decorations and serve.

To make green chocolate bark, heat the white chocolate in small pieces in a microwave safe bowl on medium power in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the green food colouring and chopped Oreos. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Refrigerate until set.

To finish the trifle, pile the remaining cheesecake mixture on the top of the trifle. Scatter the left over berries on the top of the “snowy” mixture. I used only fresh raspberries for the top, as they looked the most elegant. Break up the green chocolate bark and place as artistically – or in my case rustically – as you please. You don’t need to use all the bark – the recipe makes quite a large quantity. On the other hand if there are small children around they will love the white (now green) chocolate and you could use the whole lot on the pudding!

Christmas Cheesecake

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Here’s something different for Christmas Day lunch. If you’re looking for an alternative to Christmas pudding, what about a cheesecake? Make this cheesecake festive for the day by decorating it with fresh and sugared fruit, and chocolate leaves.

The recipe hails from the Sydney County Council in the 1960s and it continues to be my go to recipe for cheesecake. What makes it really delicious is the sour cream topping!

You could make it using an electric mixer, but I find it really easy to make using a food processor.

Ingredients

Crumb Crust
225g plain sweet biscuits
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Cream Cheese Filling
500g cream cheese
150g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 free range eggs

Topping
300 ml sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 level tablespoon sugar

Method

Crush biscuits very finely and add nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased 8″ springform tin bringing mixture within 1/2 ‘ from the top of the tin.

Put cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Pour mixture into uncooked crumb crust and bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat together the topping ingredients and pour over hot cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool, then store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Decoration

Decorate with sugar frosted fresh fruit and chocolate leaves. I used cherries, strawberries and black grapes for this cheesecake. To make the sugar frosted fruit, coat fruit in lightly beaten egg white then dip in caster sugar.

To make the chocolate leaves, dip sturdy leaves in melted dark chocolate, leave to set in the fridge, then gently peel away the leaves leaving the chocolate imprint intact.

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Family Christmas Cake

I’ve posted my family’s Christmas cake recipe several times over the years. It’s a wonderful cake, a recipe passed down from my grandmother over a hundred years ago. It continues to be made with great tradition and enthusiasm 4 generations on by sisters, mothers and daughters!

It’s certainly one of the baking experiences I look forward to every year at Christmas time.

The original cake recipe was for a “12 Pound Christmas Cake”. The recipe probably originated from the 1800s and was the recipe for the bottom tier of a wedding cake.

This version of the cake is very big – and will feed a lot of people! My sister still makes this cake, and I do on occasion. My favourite version of the cake however, is the “half size” cake, which I generally make each year.

It’s the quantities and method for this version I’ve listed below.

I’ve included a number of photos of the cake – same recipe, but made at different Christmas times.

Ingredients

250g butter
250g brown sugar
315g plain flour
375g raisins
375g sultanas
125g glacé cherries
65g glacé peaches
65g glacé pears
125g glacé apricots
65g glacé pineapple
65g crystallised ginger
65g mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method
Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper or aluminum foil. I use an 18cm or 7″ square tin  or a 18cm or 7″ diameter round tin. You may end up with left over mixture with this size, so you could go up a size. I like a high cake and this cake doesn’t rise so you can fill the smaller tins fairly full.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C then turn back to 135 degrees C.  The principle of cooking a rich fruitcake is to put the cake into a preheated oven and cook very slowly. This size cake does take a long time!
The original recipe says to mix by hand in a large basin. This was lots of fun when we were growing up making the family Christmas cake but now I suggest using an electric mixer.
Cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time.

Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit the larger varieties of which have previously been cut roughly. There is no need to wash the fruit. If the fruit is wet it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake.

Bake about 1½ to 2 hours or until the top is pale brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

It’s a little hard to be more precise than this as the weather, the quality of the flour and individual ovens have a lot to do with cooking time. You can put a piece of foil over the top of the cake during the last hour of cooking if the cake browns too quickly.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour ½ cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cake and wrap in a towel till cool.
Turn out of the tin onto a board or large flat plate.

Almond Icing (Marzipan Icing)
250g ground almonds
375g icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of ½ lemon

Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into sections – one large ball for the top of the cake, the rest for the sides of the cake.
Brush the cake with apricot jam which will help the almond paste to stick. Let the cake rest for a day.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Beat eggs lightly, add icing sugar and lemon juice.
Apply to cake with a palette knife. Be generous with this icing, to create a “snowy” effect.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours.

The cake keeps well – up to a year – although it is at its best when eaten within 3 months. But it never lasts beyond New Year in my house!

A Week in Shetland

October 2022 and I’m back in Shetland, this time to pursue food and history. In 2019 it was all about stunning coastal walks and brilliant wildlife. And Shetland made an impression. My musings on this visit are recorded here.

So with my long suffering but enthusiastic travelling companion in tow, I certainly got to grips in a determined way with the culture and the stories of Shetland food.

A highlight was A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival – blogged recently here. What an amazing experience. A really good way to encounter local produce and producers. I tasted samples of tablet, sponge cake, sourdough, bannocks, oatcake and some gin to wash it all down. Have I left anything out?

Some wonderful restaurants too, in Lerwick where we were based, doing innovative food with local, seasonal food. I think I had seafood wherever I went – Shetland seafood is gorgeous.

Some highlights were beautiful scallops and mussels at No 88 Kitchen and Bar, exquisitely presented dishes at Da Steak Hoose and the best crème brûlée ever at C’est La Vie!

But I need to do a big shout out to the Cake Fridges of Shetland – what a fantastic, quirky idea!

These are fridges literally set up on the roadside where the owner bakes cakes and treats which you buy by putting money in an honesty box. And that’s it! Shetland is such a community minded place that people are honest.

I visited The Cake Fridge in Aith – the original cake fridge, and bought hot coffee and tiffin – a kind of chocolate slice. Very Shetland and quite delicious.

On the island of Unst, seemingly in the middle of nowhere we were delighted to find a cake fridge, this time more accurately a cake dolls’ house! And on a cold and windy day we bought shortbread, more tiffin and tablet to keep us fuelled for exploring this most northerly island.

History and archeology were also on the agenda. And we struck gold when we met the eloquent and knowledgeable Chris Dyer from Garths Croft on the island of Bressay. Chris is an archeologist, historian and farmer, who is a passionate enthusiast for native and heritage breeds and sustainable farming.

An afternoon spent at Garths Croft was an immersive experience in the workings of a small croft. Readers of this blog may be aware of my love of sheep – and I was fascinated by the sheep that Chris breeds for colour. And I was particularly taken by Dinky, a sheep that had been hand reared from birth by Chris. I admit to being a bit sentimental where sheep are concerned…

Chris also is highly informed on local food and the importance of food miles in agriculture and food production in Shetland. We ate some outstanding local dishes on Chris’ recommendations.

One of those recommendations was the wonderful Speldiburn Cafe which we visited when we were on Bressay. Now here was great Shetland food – soups, bannocks. cakes and tiffin, all home made and all served with a welcoming smile!

We were able to tap into Chris’ other great passion, archeology, when we drove up to Unst, the most northerly point of the UK, driving across two islands via two ferries to reach this historic place. This bleak and windswept island is evocative, thought to be the first point of contact in the North Atlantic of the Vikings, and a treasure trove of archeological sites pertaining to Viking history.

At Haroldswick, a replica Viking Long House, where we had lunch, and a Viking ship the Skidbladner, give visitors some idea of Viking life. The replica ship actually made the voyage from Sweden to Shetland. Apparently bound for the United States in 2000, the ship stopped off in Unst where it remains today. Getting inside the ship gave me a real appreciation of how hard those Viking sea journeys must have been.

I had visited Unst in 2019, staying at Saxa Vord, at the service quarters of an old RAF base. Some of the base facilities are now being developed as part of the planned SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a successful, internationally recognised “new space business”. Today however Saxa Vord is abandoned, and we wandered around the deserted site. Another reminder of the historical strategic importance of the northerly isle – to the Viking invaders and latterly to those seeking to defend the UK on its northerly tip.

I think of all the sites we visited the ruins of Framgord Chapel and graveyard left the greatest impression on me.

Chris brought us to this special place above the beach at Sandwick. The chapel probably dates to the 12th Century. The graveyard was what fascinated me. With sweeping views of the beach, the graveyard is a testament to history and spirituality. Remarkably it’s still in use today, and contemporary headstones lie side by side with early Viking Christian graves.

On a more poignant note there is the burial place and memorial to crew members of a Norwegian ship torpedoed in 1940 during World War 2. The lifeboat was wrecked at Muness in Unst. The wild seas are still the graveyard of latter day northern seafarers.

We saw much more on Unst, and this would only have been the tip of the iceberg. The archeological treasures of Unst are numerous and bear more research.

I would add here that any trip to Shetland to discover its history is enhanced by visiting Shetland Museum in Lerwick – a really interesting and informative collection.

Of course I did and saw a lot more! I just wanted to give a snapshot, the highlights, of a memorable visit to wonderful Shetland. Highly recommended.

Tropical Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake. It’s usually associated with Halloween, although I think it can be eaten any time of the year!

It’s a really simple bake, a cross between cake and bread. It has no butter or oil in it. The moist flavour comes from soaking dried fruit in tea. Irish whiskey is also included in the soak for an added kick!

My version is “tropical” because I substituted rum for whiskey, and I added pineapple to the dried fruit. And some cream cheese frosting made it a bit more luxurious.

Ingredients

375g mixed dried fruit

100g tinned pineapple, cut into small pieces

50ml dark rum

250ml cold tea

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

125g brown sugar

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 free range egg

Cream cheese frosting

60g light cream cheese *

30g softened butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pineapple juice

150g icing sugar

Glacé or tinned pineapple for decoration

Method

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the rum and cold tea. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Grease a 20 or 22cm square cake tin and line base with baking paper. Or you could use the more traditional loaf tin – grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

I used a square cake tin for my version as I was able to cut the barmbrack into more pieces.

Mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices in a large bowl. Break in the egg and mix with a wooden spoon.

Add the tea and rum liquid a tablespoon at a time. You may not need all of it – add enough to make a fairly wet dough. But don’t add so much that you end up with soup!

Stir in the mixed fruit and pineapple until everything is combined. Spoon the batter into the lined tin, and put in the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Wrap in cling film and aluminium foil and leave for 1-2 days. The flavour matures over a couple of days.

Unwrap the cake. You could serve as is, with lashings of butter which is traditional, or you could make a cream cheese frosting.

Put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and pineapple juice in an electric mixer, or even in a food processor. Mix or process until well combined.

Add the icing sugar gradually, beating until all is combined.

Spread the icing liberally over the barmbrack and decorate with pieces of glacé or tinned pineapple.

The barmbrack will keep well for a few days.

*you could use normal cream cheese not the light version – if so, you would need less icing sugar. Just add enough icing sugar to make a smooth icing.

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