Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Recipe: Christmas Cake - Stages 2 and 3

Stage 2 - Feeding the cake:

This stage of my Christmas cake making was pretty simple - feed your cake.  I made an alcohol free cake, not for any reason apart from the fact that I didn't have any brandy in the house and also loooove the flavour of earl grey.  

I dribbled a tablespoon of earl grey over the cake once a week for the 3 weeks prior to Christmas. 

Stage 2 done.

Stage 3 - Decorating the cake (the fun bit!):

I cheated with decorating the cake and have to admit that I made neither the Marzipan nor the Royal Icing.  I bought both from ASDA and am hoping (having never made a Christmas cake before)that these are as tasty as if I had made them. 

To get the marzipan to stick to the cake, and add an extra bit of Christmas flavour, heat a bit of marmalade mixed with water and brush this all over the cake.

I love the marzipan layer on an Xmas cake and have heard a good way to add a bit more is to cover the cake in a thin layer, but then add another disc of marzipan just to the top of the cake.

Once the marzipan is on it's time for the icing and making things look pretty.  I'm not a fan of royal icing so I rolled mine as thin as possible. 

A tip for the marzipan and Icing - once you have rolled it out, fold it over your rolling pin to lift it over the cake as this will prevent it from stretching too much as you lift it.

You can make your decorations as simple or extravagant as you want.  I went simple this year for my first year, with just thin icing snowflakes, glued into place with marmalade.

Christmas cake - Done!

Recipe: Christmas Cake - Stage 1

I followed this tasty looking recipe for my gorgeously tasty Christmas cake- the first I've ever made.

There are several stages to making the perfect Christmas Cake the cake, the feeding and the decorating.

I have never attempted a Christmas cake before but I thought if G and I were spending Christmas day at home together then, as my first year as a wife, I should make the effort this year.

Stage 1 - How I baked the cake:


    • 150 grams currants
    • 350 grams raisins
    • 50 grams glace cherries
    • 200ml cold earl grey tea
    • 75 grams chopped pecans
    • 150 grams butter
    • 90 grams soft brown sugar
    • 1 orange grated
    • 150 grams plain flour
    • 75 grams ground almonds
    • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4tsp ground cloves
    • 1/4tsp ground ginger
    • eggs
    • tablespoon black treacle

    18cm round tin
    Temp 150C
    yield approx 12 slices


1. Place all of the dried fruit in the earl grey tea, stir and place  in the fridge over night.
2.Preheat oven to 150C and prepare tin.
3. Cream butter and sugar together then add orange zest.
4.Add eggs one at a time (adding tbsp if mixture starts to curdle) Beat in treacle.
5.Sift in dry ingredients, then mix this alternatively with the soaked fruit, into the creamed mixture. Fold in pecans.
6.Pour into prepared tin and bake in the oven, until a screwer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
7.Brush with more earl grey and wait until completely cold before turning out.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Santa Claus is coming to town

I'm a bit of a fan of Father Christmas decorations. I like the fact that there are so many interpretations of Santa, St Nicholas and papa noël and I love the ways that he can be portrayed.

As mentioned before I really like to stick to traditional decorations and not so much of the cartoon Santa fan really.  I am so in love with our new hanging Santa from cath kidston which we bought this year and my favorite decorations are the Father Christmas on top of our tree (no angels or stars here) and the standing Father Christmas that I bought G last year as one of his Xmas prezzies.

This year on our annual shopping trip for new decs we fell in love with the snowy, rustic Santa with the shovel.  We had to take him home so I decided to give him to G as an early Xmas prezzie this year.

They now sit either side of the tele and are treasured Christmas additions to the family.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Mince Pie Magic

There isn't much better at this time of year than homemade mince pies.  Everyone has their different approach to the mince pie: sweet pastry, puff pastry, Filo pastry parcels, lid vs no lid.

I'm a fan of everything but I do think that as you can quite easily eat several of the tasty morsels at one time sometimes a smaller idea of a lid is good.

I stick to ready made mince meat as a base and then add to it as I go.  My mince meat was a Lidl choice and I added orange zest, orange juice, finely chopped cooking apple and glace cherries.


250g self raising flour
110g butter
1 egg
Pinch of salt

  • Heat oven to 160C.
  • Sieve flour and salt into a metal bowl.
  • Rub in the butter.
  • Mix the egg in a cup, then add to the flour and butter mix.
  • Bring together with a metal spatula, adding enough cold water to bring together.
  • Kneed briefly to bring together, then place in the fridge for 20 mins.
  • Remove from the fridge, roll out, and using a round cutter, cut out the base, and place in a muffin tin.
  • Fill each base with a teaspoon mincemeat.
  • Cut small stars with the remaining pastry and place on the mincemeat.
  • Glaze with an egg.
  • Cook in the oven for 20mins. 

Recipe: Brunch Pie

I made mince pies today and had some left over pastry.  I didn't want to throw away the rest of the pastry so I made up these tasty brunch pies.

I wanted them to look rustic so I didn't use a cutter for the pastry. I wanted the pastry quite thick as I wasn't adding a lid.

I fried together some bacon, chopped red onions and grated potato. I added freshly ground pepper and a tsp English mustard, grated cheese and stirred together.

I put the mixture in the pastry and made a hole in the mixture with a spoon so that when I cracked the egg in it didn't spill over the edges.

I cooked for about 25 minutes on 160C until the egg was completely white and not too wobbly.

These were amazing!!! The yolk was still runny and the flavours were amazing.  

I will definitely be making these again!

Little Christmas Touches

I love the week approaching Christmas as you can really start to embrace the season without looking silly.  This week I wore my festive red and black jumper from Aubin and Wills along with a pretty red ribbon in my hair, added these gorgeous snowflake transfers to my gel nails, and started drinking my coffee each morning from my gorgeous Cath Kidston Mug.

What little things do you change to embrace the Christmas season?