Winter Fayre
Two of these recipes are really aimed at Christmas, although you can use them at any time during the Winter. The Mincemeat cake is a lovely cake, easy to do, has a good flavour and a nice moist texture. There are some people who profess not to like Christmas pudding, so the recipe here is for a sponge pudding containing that Christmassy flavour and it's not too heavy. Seville oranges have a very short season and are quite bitter so are not suited for desserts, but they are excellent for marmalade. And at Easter time, what could be better than a great big chunk of chocolate fudge cake?
Mincemeat cake
450g jar of mincemeat
225g wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
150g dark brown sugar
50g softened butter or margarine
175g dried mixed fruit
100g glace cherries halved
1 orange grated zest and juice
1 lemon grated zest and juice
3 large eggs
1 Grease and line an 8" [20cm] cake tin and pre-heat the oven to gas 3/ 325f or 170c
2 In a large bowl put all the ingredients (except the flour) and with an electric whisk. Beet everything together thoroughly. If you have to use a wooden spoon it will take you a bit longer
3-Fold in the flour and make sure it's mixed in well
4 Spoon the mixture into the tin levelling off the surface
5 Bake for approx. 1 ½ hours until the centre of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
6 Let it cool in the tin for a good ½ hour before turning it out, to finish cooling on a rack
When cold ice the cake to your own design. If you don't fancy icing your cake, at stage 4 decorate the top of your cake with blanched almonds before placing in the oven. (As shown in the picture).
Seville Orange Marmalade
1.5kg [3lbs] Seville Oranges
Juice of 2 lemons (4 tablespoons)
or 1 tsp citric or tartaric acid
2.75-3.5 litres (4-6 pints) water
3kg [6lbs] sugar
Give your fruit a wash, then peel off the peel and shred finely, I like my peel chunky, but my mother-in-law doesn't. The last lot she said was too chunky,so, I've cut it finer this time!!! Place this in a large preserving pan. Cover with half the water.
Chop up the flesh and place this in another large pan with the rest of the water.
Cover both pans with lids and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer. This could take anything from 1½ -2 hours. The main thing is to make sure that the peel is soft. Take off the heat.
With the flesh, I put it in my food processer (a bit at a time) blitz It then pass it through a sieve squeezing as much juice as possible from it. Repeat this process till you have used up all the flesh.
Mix the peel and juice from the flesh together then add the lemon juice or acids (whatever you are using) and then the sugar. The lemon juice is to add a natural pectin which helps set your marmalade. It also acts as a preservative. Stir well and make sure all the sugar has dissolved.
Now bring to a rolling boil and boil until setting point is reached.
Setting point is the point when your marmalade begins to set. There are 3 methods for this. And these are: -
Thermometer test
If you have a jam thermometer, setting point is 105c (220f). There is usually a "jam" mark on your thermometer.
Saucer test
Whilst your marmalade is cooking, place a saucer in your fridge. When you are ready to test, place 1 teaspoon of the marmalade on the cold saucer and put it back in the fridge for 1 minute. If the surface wrinkles when you push your finger through it, your marmalade is ready. If it doesn't, re-boil for a couple more minutes and try again. It's important to take the marmalade off the heat whilst you do this otherwise it may burn or go beyond setting point.
Flake test
Dip a wooden spoon into the boiling marmalade. If it has reached setting point your marmalade will run together and flake off your spoon. When setting point has been reached, take the marmalade off the heat and let it stand for at least half an hour. Then give it a good stir to distribute the peel. This is so that when you put it into a jar the peel doesn't rise to the top.
Pot up into sterilised jars with a twist top. Label with the details of your contents. Then let it stand for a day to cool, then it's ready to use. Enjoy!
This is a basic recipe. If you want, you can reduce the amount of oranges and add lemons for 2 fruit marmalade or grapefruit and orange for a 3-fruit marmalade.
When you have mastered this, the combinations are endless. e.g. Pumpkin, Pineapple, lemon and lime, and my favourite (which I keep for myself---Gin and orange marmalade!)
Christmas Pudding
175g s/r flour
110g softened butter
100g light brown sugar
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons mincemeat
100g candid mixed peel
Juice and zest of 1 orange and lemon
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
You will need a 2-pint pudding basin well buttered
In a large bowl beet together the sugar and butter till light and creamy
Beat in the eggs 1 at a time
Now fold in the flour, spices, the orange and lemon zest and juice, the apple then the mincemeat
Spoon into the basin level the top
Cover with a pleated, well buttered piece of foil and tie it in place
Now place it in a steamer, or as I do a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Making sure the bowl doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. I use an upturned saucer or the trivet from my pressure cooker
Pour boiling water round it and steam for about 2 ½ hours
After 2 ½ hours carefully turn it out and serve with whatever you desire
If you are cooking it now you can let the pudding cool completely and wrap it well and freeze it until Christmas day. Then re-steam for about 1 ½ hours.
You can cook this in your microwave oven, but you will have to check the manufacturer's instructions (The microwave not the pudding!), but I find that it can become quite dry (The pudding not the microwave!)
Chocolate Fudge Cake
For the cake
175-gram softened butter
175-gram caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
3 tablespoons golden syrup
40-gram ground almonds
175-gram self-raising flour
40-gram cocoa powder
For the icing
225-gram plain chocolate broken into pieces
55-gram dark muscovado sugar
225-gram butter diced
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the icing (I know this looks odd, but I do this first!)
Put the chocolate, sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla into a saucepan. Heat gently and stir constantly until melted. Then pour into a bowl and leave to cool. Cover and pop into your fridge for about an hour, or until it's spreadable.
To make the cake
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat well till light and fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs.
Then the golden syrup and ground almonds.
Finally add the flour and cocoa powder, again beating well. If your mixture feels a stiff, add a little milk to make a dropping consistency.
Spoon into 2x 20cm (8") cake tins and bake in a preheated oven 180c, 350f, gas mark 4, for about 30-35 minutes. It should feel springy to the touch and if you skewer it, the skewer should come out clean.
When cooked leave your cakes in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are cold, sandwich them together with half of the icing. Then spread the remaining icing all over the top and down the sides of your cake. Swirl your pallet knife across the cake to make a pattern.
When you've done that, cut yourself a great big piece and sit down, put your feet up and have a nice cup of coffee with it. Then all your cares will just fade away. What more could anyone want!!!!