I started making a christmas cake at the start of the week. I wasn’t going to, as the “traditional” christmas cake doesn’t play very well in this house, or at my parents. However the sainsbury’s magazine had a yule log on the front and a “mulled wine fruit cake” which apparently freezes well, and I quite liked the idea of having a fruit cake in the freezer ready to go if needed….
It was too early in the month to do the yule log, that’s a “cooking with children” activity for when the school holidays start, but since we had a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard not used last year, and some wine left over from the night before (plus some port lurking in the kitchen somewhere) the mulled wine cake was calling out to be done. BUT, this week has been one of trips to London and illness and being just too damned tired…so after getting as far as melting the butter, adding sugar, warming the alcohol and adding sultanas, I stopped, and stayed stopped.
The cake in fact has been in the fridge for a week now waiting for me to finish it off, and although I will (because not too would be a waste) my heart really isn’t in it – if you are to make cake then I think it has to be something you want to make… and this isn’t.
So the yule log is yet to come. I’ve also promised French Frank I would do him a fruit cake (if he remembers to send me his current address) but I’m open to suggestions as to what cake to do for Christmas that doesn’t involve icing, marzipan and alcohol soaked fruits…preferably something that is not going to still be there in February waiting to be eaten.
Yesterday was spent experimenting and recipe testing. At least that is what I was doing, Spider was enjoying making biscuits and playing with “dough”.
I have a copy of Gingerbread:Joanne Farrow from the library at the moment. It’s a book I’ve had before, by accident as when I’m choosing books Spider has a habit of grabbing things from the shelves and insisting that they are included in out borrowed items – Anyway I digress – I am still trying to plan christmas, food to buy and make, presents to make etc – I am not getting very far admittedly.
Anyway since this particular family is not very interested in the traditional christmas cake I thought I’d try out a few things before christmas and see what works…last weeks chocolate gingercake worked quite well, so that’s the route I’m thinking about at the moment…although since I want Spider to help with the cake I suspect we will be doing a christmas log.
We made part of the gingerbread street, because we wanted to play around with stained glass windows which are made by crushing up boiled sweets, placing in cut outs in the part cooked dough and then cooking for another 5 minutes. The recipe is meant to make 6-8 sets of houses but ours only made 3 as Spider wanted to make a gingerbread man and play with the cutters…
That was last night. It is currently 10am and there is none left, not even a crumb so I guess we can safely say that the basic golden gingerbread recipe from this book is a hit in this family (yes I know eating biscuits for breakfast shouldn’t be encouraged, but I don’t make a habit of it…) – as usually I played around with the recipe as I’m incapable of following something to the letter. This time though I simply replaced the caster sugar with brown sugar, as we have no caster sugar at the moment and lots and lots of different brown sugars – anyway, I think gingerbread tastes better with brown sugar, but that’s just a personal opinion.
Right off to the shops to buy ginger and golden syrup in bulk…I may be sometime
ps you are supposed to pipe chocolate around the doors and windows and add strips of chocolate but the temptation to consume was too strong and we didn’t get that far…
Last year I cooked a “traditional” Christmas dinner, turkey, gravy, small sausages, roast potatoes, hell I even did sprouts and chestnuts. We had a home made christmas pudding (as did several of my friends as I made slightly too many) and a home made iced and marzipan’d Christmas cake (both from The Kitchen Diaries: Nigel Slater)
One of Mummy and Spider's joint ventures
Now you might be wondering why is this even worth mentioning ? Well perhaps because this isn’t how my family normally has its christmas’. About the time I was 13 we had a family discussion and decided that Christmas would be about food that we wanted to eat because it was good and tasty not simply because it was traditional.
Anyway, last year we wanted to introduce Spider to tradition and besides both Husband and Dad like turkey (and sprouts) and I adore christmas pudding. I also splashed out on a gingerbread train kit from the American shop in Milton Keynes… of the bakes stuff, the pudding was lovely but I wish I’d left the figs out as I don’t like little hard seeds, the cake was nice but as a family we are not keen on the icing and marzipan…the gingerbread kit was horrible and besides Spider lost interest half way through…and more icing went on Spider than on the cake when we tackled that.
So this year we will be doing one of Nigella’s many alternative Christmas cakes – although not until the weekend as I have yet another cold and I don’t cook for other people when I’m ill, it just doesn’t seem hygienic!
As for last year, well Nigel’s pudding recipe is here as is the cake recipe just slightly further down the page
So called because this is the first Christmas cake I am making this year, for the works Christmas Cake competition – the idea is that anyone who wants to enter makes a cake and then people who want to try cake pay a £1 for charity (probably Water Aid) and then vote on the winner.
Anyway, my entry is not a traditional cake but is something that I associate with Christmas, gingerbread or rather ginger cake…my kitchen is currently full of the lovely smells of ginger and cinnamon and caramel and…cake ! The version I eventually went for is from The Kitchen Diaries:Nigel Slater and is one I am particularly fond of because it has a hidden surprise of real stem ginger hidden deep in side. The recipe for it was published some years ago in The Observer also [here] and its kinda appropriate as when Nigel made it for his article in the observer “the rain is crashing down on the kitchen roof”, and that’s just what it’s been doing here all day.
The intention tomorrow is to ice it with the lemon icing for Ginger Cake in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess because as she points out, its hard to sell something which is so unrelentingly brown…
Other than the cake today has been quite quiet, Husband went down to pick the Student up from Cardiff and Spider and I cleaned the living room, including moving the sofa which is where I found the Toffee Brownie recipe – I have now amended the quantities in the recipe I posted several days ago.
Next weekend I will be making this years actual christmas cake – again not traditional because last year we were still eating it at the end of January…
Double Ginger Cake with lemon icing...