It’s a tradition in our house that we make the Christmas Cake towards the end of November and feed it spoonfuls of brandy at regular intervals during December, thereby ensuring that come Christmas Day the cake is nice and
My husband usually makes the Christmas Cake but this year he was too busy, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s not a difficult cake, but it is time consuming. At least 12 hours before you make the cake, you need to soak the dried fruit in brandy. Then it’s the normal flour, mixed spice, nutmeg, butter, brown sugar, eggs, treacle… all the good stuff. The cake then bakes for a little over 4 hours, so obviously you need to hang around for that time.
The photo above was taken just before the cake went into the oven and I need to remember to take another one on Christmas Day! We don’t do royal icing anymore; we used to, but found it too sweet. So we just serve it as it is and believe me, it’s good enough like that.
I’ve actually been making this mincemeat for the past – I don’t know exactly – 4/5 years? Most of the time we’ve been in Switzerland anyway, as mincemeat isn’t easy to come by. I can’t justify a trip to Zurich just to buy a jar of mincemeat.
The main reason I chose Delia’s vegetarian mincemeat is because it doesn’t contain suet, which I would happily use by the way, I just haven’t been able to find out the German word, so I can’t ask my butcher. This mincemeat uses a block of creamed coconut in place of the suet and is also unusual in that one of the main ingredients is chopped dried bananas. The other dried fruits are apricots, raisins and sultanas and there is no sugar added. I have sensitive teeth and for me, eating some mincemeat is downright painful, but not this one. It’s light and not too sweet.
I’ll update you when I bake the pies!
I know, the picture ain’t pretty, it was made in a hurry and I don’t think the bottom was cooked enough. But… it tasted good. Reminiscent of the bottom layer of the Lemon Surprise Pudding, but much quicker to make.
Basically you whisk sugar, the rind of a lemon and its juice with 3 egg yolks. Whisk the egg white until stiff and fold them into the yolk mixture. Cook quickly in a hot pan, then cook the top under the grill. Ready!
I made this with my daughter/Mini Chef and couldn’t quite imagine what it would turn out like. Apple slices are cooked with brown sugar and then a frangipane (butter, sugar, eggs and ground almonds) is spread on top. It takes a hour to bake, but the result is worth it – got a thumbs up all round 🙂
This is another recipe that takes little preparation and cooks itself in the oven. I don’t buy lamb very often in Switzerland, as it costs an arm and a leg, but this modest piece was on special. And I can never stop myself from buying lamb at a reduced price!
The meat is first pierced a few times with a skewer, then rubbed with butter, rosemary, mint, parsley, thyme and garlic. Whilst it cooks in foil for an hour or so, all the flavoured butter runs into the lamb and it’s super tasty.
Delia recommends a redcurrant, orange and mint sauce to go with it, which sounds amazing, but I didn’t have any redcurrant jelly. Next time, Delia, I’ll make sure I do.
Anyway, here’s Delia Smith’s recipe for Leg of Lamb Baked with Butter and Herbs.
This recipe is from a book I bought about 3 years ago Cook Eat Smile by Bill Collison. Bill’s started as a small restaurant in Lewes, East Sussex, England and we were lucky enough to have one in Brighton, where we used to live.
I was trying to put in words just what this café is about, but this image on Bill’s website says it the best. The main thing that kept us going back to Bill’s were the brownies. Cut into thick, rectangular slabs, one slice was substantial enough for two people. They are the reason I bought Bill’s book!
And they are very, very good just like Bill says in his book “Very chocolately, very nutty, delicious and essential”.
And now I have a pair of little hands in the kitchen!
Maya (AKA Munchkin #1) has been inspired by watching Junior MasterChef and Junior Bake Off.
Here is her first recipe, Vanilla Cupcakes with Orange-Flavoured Buttercream, made entirely by herself, with me standing nearby and only stepping in to check measurements of ingredients or to show how to crack an egg.
She did a super job and piped the icing also, carefully copying what she had seen on Junior Bake Off. She is very enthusiastic and has lots of plans for future bakes, so watch this space!