Christmas Cake.

Its 10 weeks until Christmas and now is the time when I start thinking about my Christmas baking (yum yum yum…). Lots of delicious recipes improve by being left for a couple of months to mature and for the flavours to develop and this deliciously fruity Christmas Cake is the perfect example of that. 

A Christmas Cake is a very flexible cake recipe and can take all sorts of different goodies being added (or removed) to change the flavour to suit your own tastes. I prefer to not to use dried peal and to use dried cherries, marmalade and brandy as some of my chosen goodies so get creative!

If you would rather not have the hassle of making a Christmas Cake yourself then I am taking orders for Christmas Cakes so do get in touch by calling 07971423678 or emailing heather@heather-brown.com

christmas cake

Ingredients. 

  • 10oz currants
  • 12oz sultanas
  • 3oz dried cherries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 2tbsp brandy
  • 7oz plain flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 5oz butter
  • 6oz soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tbsp marmalade

Method. 

Line an 8″ round tin with 2 good layers of baking parchment. You can also wrap the outside of the tin with brown paper too. Also make a ‘hat’ for the cake out of baking parchment to protect the top but cut a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape. The cake cooks for a long time in the oven and this helps not to scorch the top and side of the cake.

Preheat the oven to 140/gas mark 1.

Add the sugar and butter to a large bowl and beat them together until pale (about 2 minutes with an electric whisk). Add in the eggs gradually (alternating an egg with a spoonful of flour). Then mix in the flour.

Then add all your goodies – juice and rind of the lemon and orange, mixed spice, brandy, marmalade and all the dried fruit and mix well.

Place in the tin and put in the oven and bake for 2.5 hours. Check the cake every 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin and once cold, wrap the cake in a layer of baking parchment and a layer of foil and place in an airtight container and leave until about 1 week before Christmas, when you can ice the cake however you fancy. If you would like to – every 2 weeks, poke the cake a number of times with a skewer and spoon over some brandy. This is called ‘feeding’ the cake.

Cheese Scones.

This is my favourite treat after a long day.

It might seem at first like too much work to make scones when you are tired but they are ridiculously easy, barely any washing up and just SO good straight from the oven with cold butter and nice cup of tea – 100% worth the effort. 

Cheese Scone

Ingredients.

  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g mature cheddar cheese (or whatever you have)
  • 150ml milk

Method. Makes 4 large scones. 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/160 fan/gas 5. Line a tray.

Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt and sugar. Add the butter in smallish pieces and ‘rub together’ (this simply means to rub together the butter with the dry ingredients between your fingers and thumbs until the mix ends up looking like breadcrumbs).

Grate in the cheese and give a quick stir. Then pour in the milk bit by bit until the mix comes together to form a dough (you might not need all of the milk so go steady).

Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour and tip the dough. Gently pat out so its a bit less than 1 inch thick and cut with a round cutter, placing the scones onto the tray. I usually don’t bother with all that though – I simply break the dough into pieces and place on the tray.

Brush the top with a little milk (or dribble on if no brush/cant be bothered to wash brush!) and place into the oven. Bake for something like 15 minutes until golden on top (the bottom will sound ‘hollow’ when you tap it too).

Tips.

  • Don’t knead the mixture much at all (otherwise it can get tough and dry)
  • If your dough is too wet, just add a little more flour.
  • This is a very forgiving recipe so don’t worry all that much about being completely accurate – often my butter just gets chucked in and I rarely measure the cheese or milk out.
  • You can add any extras you fancy… like chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked bacon pieces…
  • Half of the above recipe is enough for one hungry person for dinner and makes two large scones.

Enjoy!