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Christmas Cake 2019

I know it’s a little late, well let’s face it, it’s very late, to be posting about Christmas cake on Christmas Eve! But I really wanted to show some lovely photos of the cake I made for John, and his charming decorations with a definite Australian touch!

Readers of this blog will have seen a few posts in the past of the recipe for the Christmas cake. It’s a family recipe, handed down through the generations. It’s a dark fruit cake, full of dried fruit and glacé fruit and spices. The full recipe is big: 12 eggs, half a kilo of butter and of sugar, one and half kilos of dried fruit and a kilo of glacé fruit! As well as flour, spices, essences and alcohol etc.

This year I made the big mixture. I was able to bake 2 large cakes from this, and even managed a baby one with some leftover mixture.

One of the big cakes went to John, long time friend and a connoisseur of good food. I ice my cakes with a covering of home made marzipan, then top with royal icing. The cakes are a blank canvas on which you can create whatever decoration you fancy. John had a few ideas, but the lead photos are my favourites, as they feature a beautiful banksia cone as decoration. Banksias are an interesting Australian species, and the startling looking cones were the inspiration for Mae Gibbs’ Big Bad Banksia Men from her wonderful “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”.

So here is the link to the Christmas cake recipe. This post has the recipes for the big cake, and what I call the medium cake, that is, a cake that is made with half of the ingredients of the mother cake.

And the photos are of John’s cake – well done, your decorations look great!

Christmas Spruce Cake for the Festive Season

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I first made this unusual cake in 2013. I had just hunted down the all important cake tin on eBay and I was super keen to try out the new acquisition! It’s a Nordic Ware mold called Holiday Tree Bundt Pan, that is shaped like a Christmas spruce tree.

I am re-blogging the recipe as the festive season approaches, and we begin to think about what to cook for all those up-coming celebrations.

The cake is fabulous because of the tin, but really, you can make it in an ordinary cake tin, or in any other fancy tin you have on hand. It’s a Nigella recipe for a rich butter cake, which can be spiced up with anything you like, but Christmas flavours of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a wonderful way to go.

The recipe is from Nigella Christmas, a cook book full of exciting Christmas treats. It’s also on Nigella’s website: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/spruced-up-vanilla-cake

But beware – if you do happen to be using this gorgeous spruce mold, you must grease the mold really carefully as the cake is very tricky to remove from the tin. I have experienced the cake sticking and coming out in bits. But when the cake comes out intact, it’s delightful, and can be zhushed with icing, chocolate or glace fruit.

Ingredients
225 gms soft butter (plus more for greasing)
300 gms caster sugar
6 large eggs
350 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 gms plain fat-free yoghurt
4 tsps vanilla extract and/or
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
2 tbls icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees C non fan forced and put a baking sheet in at the same time.
Butter or oil the Nordic ware spruce tree mould very thoroughly. Alternatively, you could use a large 2.5 litre capacity tin.
Put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into a food processor and blitz together. Pour and spoon the mixture into the greased tin and spread evenly.
Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden.
After 45 minutes, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Rest the cake out of the oven for 15 minutes.
Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake.
Once cool, dust with the icing sugar pushed through a small sieve, or decorate in whatever way inspires you.

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Summer Holiday Food

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Here are a few of the summer holiday meals I’ve shared with friends over this Christmas and New Year break.

I am always a big fan of the communal rustic platter, but even this quirky cook has taken “rustic” to new heights!

A broken ankle on my recent trip to Shanghai has meant cooking on crutches or one foot – so near enough has definitely been good enough! My very understanding friends have been great helpers in the serving department and in supplying some lovely Christmas cheer in bubbly form…

Smoked salmon, stuffed eggs and ham, a colourful vegetarian barbecue pizza with “the lot”, Christmas cake and ice-cream babas with meringue and chocolate ganache, were easy options for holiday entertaining.

Smoked Salmon Platter

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Lots of things go well with smoked salmon – this platter is made up of salmon, stuffed eggs with mayonnaise, Christmas ham, sauteed potato salad, cherry tomatoes and greens.

Vegetarian Pizza with “The Lot”

This is my usual grilled pizza recipe from a previous post: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/10/20/pear-artichoke-and-blue-cheese-grilled-pizza-with-rose-and-cranberry-dressing/

The toppings for this pizza are: peach, avocado, feta, vintage cheddar, baby beetroot, cherry tomato, spring onion, quince paste and rosemary and basil. After barbecuing the pizza I served it with a dressing of home made mayonnaise.

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Christmas Cake

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This is the recipe from a previous post: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/12/08/little-christmas-cakes/

This is the medium size version – the cake quantities are the same as in the post. This cake has marzipan as well as royal icing.

Full recipe for cake plus icing to follow shortly.

Ice-cream Babas

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Take 250 mls of good vanilla bean ice-cream softened and mix in a couple of generous tablespoons of whipped cream.

Add chopped glace fruit to taste and a tablespoon of rum or orange liqueur. Fold in some crushed meringue.

Spoon into rum baba molds – or any decorative individual molds and freeze for at least several hours.

Remove from molds by carefully running base under the hot water tap for a very few seconds.

Serve with more crushed meringue and chocolate ganache as a sauce.

Little Christmas Cakes

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These Christmas treats are miniatures of a large Christmas cake made up as cup cakes. The recipe is based on a traditional  Christmas cake, a family recipe, soon to appear on this blog. The quantities in the “big” cake are doubled.

Ingredients

250 gms butter
250 gms brown sugar
315 gms plain flour
375 gms raisins
375 gms sultanas
125 gms glace cherries
65 gms glace peaches
65 gms glace pears
125 gms glace apricots
65 gms glace pineapple
65 gms crystallised ginger
65 gms mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp 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 two 12 hole muffin pans or place cup cake paper cases in each hole. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
In a food processor or 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 up roughly.
Turn back oven temperature to 135 degrees C. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until the little cakes are pale brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cakes.
When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and pierce each all over with a skewer. Pour the 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cakes.
Remove from muffin pans when cool.

You can leave these little Christmas cakes un-iced or put a dollop of royal icing on the top of each one.  When making the traditional full size version of this Christmas cake, a layer of almond or marzipan paste is applied first before the royal icing.
However a little royal icing is sufficient to jazz up these cakes!

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Royal Icing

Beat 1egg white lightly, add 250 gms icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon.
Apply a swirl of icing to each cake, to create a “snowy” effect.

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