Mid November is the ideal time to make your Christmas Cake, allowing you a few weeks to feed it so it is nicely matured in time for Christmas. Best eaten with a chunk of crumbly Lancashire Cheese!
For the stock syrup
1/2 pint water
225g caster sugar
75ml cream sherry
For a 9” round cake:
50g chopped walnuts
220g glace cherries (halved)
60g candied peel (finely chopped)
300g unsalted butter
300g dark brown muscavado sugar
1 tblsp black treacle
5 eggs (beaten)
450g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1. Make a stock syrup by boiling the caster sugar and water together for 5 minutes and once cool add the rum and sherry.
2. Use approximately half the syrup to soak the dried fruits, nuts, cherries and peel for a minimum of 24 hours or up to a week in the fridge, stirring every day so the fruit absorbs the syrup.
3. Keep the remaining syrup in the fridge for feeding the cake over the coming weeks.
4. Line the base and sides of a 9” round tin with greaseproof paper, a little higher than the rim of the tin.
5. Beat the butter and muscavado sugar together until well mixed and lighter in colour.
6. Add the treacle and mix well.
7. Slowly add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition.
8. If the mixture starts to curdle when you add the eggs, add a tablespoon of the flour.
9. Sieve together the flour, salt and spices and fold into the mix.
10. Add the soked fruits and stir so the fruit is evenly distributed through the mix, but don’t over mix.
11. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the mix.
12. Bake at 140 C/gas mark 1 for 4 - 4 3/4 hours until cake feels firm to the touch and a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
13. Allow to cool in the tin, then pierce the cake at intervals with a skewer and feed with a little of the reserved stock syrup.
14. Wrap in foil and store in a cool dry place.
15. Feed the cake weekly in the run up to Christmas
Festive Tear & Share
Just before Christmas, I love to light the fire, put on some Christmas Carols and spend the afternoon baking these delicious tear-and-share bread buns before the guests arrive.
For the bread
220ml full fat milk
1 sachet active dried yeast
75g caster sugar
80g melted butter
500g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 Jar mincemeat
120g marzipan (or to taste)
For the orange flavoured sugar syrup
250g soft brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 orange
2 strips orange peel
For the orange icing glaze
250g icing sugar
juice 1/2 orange
1. Gently warm the milk to around 40 °C and pour into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer.
2. Sprinkle over the yeast and wait 2-3 minutes for the yeast to activate and start to foam.
3. Add the melted butter, sugar and beaten egg followed by the sieved flour and salt.
4. Using the dough hook, knead together for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and has a smooth silky appearance. It will still be a little sticky.
5. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover. Allow to prove for approx 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
6. Dust the work surface with flour to make sure your dough doesn’t stick to it and roll out to a rectangle 40cm x 30cm.
7. Take the jar or mincemeat and spread over the dough avoiding the edges.
8. Slice or cut the marzipan and dot evenly over the mincemeat.
9. Roll the dough along the longest edge to form a sausage.
10. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces and place in a baking tin or roasting tin leaving space around each roll.
11. Let these prove for another hour until then have risen and spread so they are touching.
12. Bake in the oven at 200 °C for approx 15 minutes until golden brown.
13. Whilst the buns are baking, make the syrup by heating the brown sugar, orange juice and orange peel so the sugar dissolves. Boil for 5 minutes until syrupy.
14. Allow the buns to cool slightly before removing from the tin and transferring to a serving plate or board to brush with the syrup.
15. Whisk togethr the icing sugar and orange juice for the icing glaze and drizzle over the top of the buns.
16. Grate over some orange zest and eat whilst still warm and oozing almond paste.
If you have any left, slice it up and pop it back in the oven for a couple of minutes to lightly toast.