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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Light Christmas Fruit Cake

Having been 'commissioned'  by my sixth form headteacher to make something for the annual elderly friends Christmas party held at my school, it seemed only appropriate to bake something not too big which 'elders' would appreciate as a present. (Sorry if I've offended anyone who doesn't class them-self as an 'elderly person' because in fact I like fruit cake too! I suppose it's just a stereotype.)

 I have made this fruit cake without alcohol, but it still has all the traditional elements of a Christmas cake without all the heaviness, which most of us will agree is always better don't you think?

The decoration is simply a covering of white fondant...not a smidge of marzipan in sight because I don't like it! (BUT in hindsight I think the 'elderly' would have liked it. Oh well.) Alternatively- if you prefer you could coat the cake in a layer of it first. Then to top it all off, a classy finish with some holly and berries. Tint the icing whatever colour you like but I think the cake looks more sophisticated with a simple colour scheme of white, green and red. 

This recipe makes a 6 inch cake because it would work great to give as a little present with some ribbon wrapped round the base as you can see...

I've also made our lives a whole lot easier by making this fruit cake with the all in one method. You could go the whole hog by even buying your dried fruits (raisins, sultanas candied peel) already pre-mixed in a bag, if so you'll need 80g altogether. 

Ingredients (makes a 6 inch cake): 

Fruit Cake:
130g unsalted butter, softened
110g caster sugar
2 eggs
110g plain flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder 
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
a pinch of grated nutmeg
½ tsp almond extract
grated zest and juice of ½ orange
40g raisins
20g sultanas
20g candied peel, finely chopped
40g glacé cherries, chopped

4 tbsp apricot jam
400g white ready-to-roll fondant icing 
red and green fondant paste to make into holly and berries
icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 170°C/ gas mark 3/ 325°F. Grease and line the base of a 6 inch deep loose bottomed cake tin. To make the fruit cake, put the butter, caster sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, spices, almond extract, orange zest and juice in a large mixing bowl and beat all together until smooth. Then add the raisins, sultanas, candied peel and cherries and stir. 

Pour the cake batter into you prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, after this time quickly place some tin foil over the top so that it will prevent the sides from burning before it's cooked in the middle. Continue to cook for a further 12-15 minutes, until when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. 

To decorate, heat up the apricot jam in a small bowl until bubbling and then quickly brush all over the top and sides of the cake, this will help the icing to stick. On a work surface dust with icing sugar and then roll out your fondant to the same size as your cake. Lift the icing onto the cake and smooth over including the sides, use a knife to cut around the edge neatly. Finish with a decoration of holly and berries molded from red and green fondant icing, stick in the middle with a tiny dab of water.

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I seem to be on a bit of a biscuit roll here, first the chocolate orange, malteser cookies and now this. I'm certainly getting into the Christmas spirit by making these wonderful Scandi cookies, otherwise known as Swedish 'pepparkakor'- pepper biscuits and I know what your they don't have pepper in them. 

They are traditionally spiced with ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves and boy do you get a kick and a half!! Suppose they are very similar to gingerbread, however there are some ingredients that differentiate between the two.

I can't really state how many cookies this recipe makes (I originally found it in a John Lewis Magazine a year ago but I can't be for certain....sorry guys, recipe attribution failure and all that!) It really just depends what shaped cutters you use and how big they are. I also made a few tweaks that I thought were necessary to the recipe, the halving of quantities being one thing because who seriously needs 50 Scandi biscuits at one time?! I know they are good, but we don't want to be too greedy. You want to save room for some mince pies and all the other wonderful Christmas treats! 

One of the best bits to this Christmas'y recipe is the decorating! I love just going wild with my piping bag, I decided to go traditional on this one by just using white but heck go crazy with the food colourings if you dare!! Get your Christmas tunes on and happily decorate to your hearts content...


Ingredients (makes 15-25):

For the biscuit dough
75ml golden syrup
125g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
85g salted butter
75ml double cream
¼ tsp bicarbonate soda
375g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the icing
150g icing sugar
½ an egg white
Enough water to mix to a dropping consistency


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Mix the syrup, sugar, spices and butter in a large mixing bowl, beating until soft and smooth. Add the cream and mix again. Next sift in the bicarbonate of soda and flour, then mix into the butter mixture to produce a dough.

Flour your work surface and knead the dough well. Roll out the dough really thinly and cut out shapes with your assorted cookie cutters. Place on baking trays lined with baking parchment and bake for about 8 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray and then transfer to wire rack.

To make the icing, put the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix the egg white with a few teaspoons of water in a separate small bowl. Then add 2 tablespoons of the egg white and water mixture to the icing sugar, keep adding a little at a time until you have a smooth dropping consistency which is not too runny to pipe. Spoon into a piping bag and cut a small hole. Decorate the cookies and enjoy!

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