Here’s a Christmas lesson, this post was written early and posted late because there are so many things that I’m always trying to do at this time of year. I need to learn to slow down and enjoy the time more.
It’s been an introspective year for me. I’ve thought of so many times in my life I’ like to go back to and tell myself to make different decisions or to make decisions for the right reasons not because of being scared or feeling that there was no choice. But time travel isn’t possible and I’m trying to learn to give myself the same care that I extend to others. To allow myself to know I made the best decisions I could at the time with the information I had. We can’t go back in time but we can go forward with all of the life experience and knowledge we have and make decisions for the right reasons in future.
As I write it’s December 1st and I’m waiting for my Christmas Cake to come out of the oven. It’s at least a month after it ‘should’ have been made and it’s made to a much more simple recipe than the usual recipe I use. But rather than having to try and convince myself it’s not happened that way because I’m never good enough or organised enough or have let anyone down I feel happy it’s done now. I decided to do other things up until now and I decided to make this recipe, not the other one. There really isn’t a sort of person who makes the perfect family recipe Christmas Cake and a sort of person who buys a cake there’s only the sort of person who does what they do with the time they have and deserves to be happy and proud of themselves.
I made it a bit more special by soaking the fruit in a mix of sherry and brandy overnight before I started.
My heirloom electric whisk from the 1980s finally gave up the ghost during the creation of cupcakes for the school Christmas Bizarre so I ended up making this using the food processor as I’ve become much too lazy to cream butter and sugar by hand.
Adding the flour and ground almonds and a little orange essence as we didn’t have almond and it seemed more suitable than peppermint which was the other alternative in the cupboard.
Had to mix in the fruit by hand after draining off the excess alcohol (which I saved to pour on once the cake is cooked) maybe I should have used a slightly bigger mixing bowl because it was a bit tricky to hold such a full bowl while pouring mixture into the tin.
Once the cake was cooked and had plenty more alcohol poured over the top it is cooled and stored for a couple of weeks before it’s ready for the marzipan and icing.
I made it at the same time as cooking roast dinner so I would like extra points for multi-tasking, please. We had it for pudding and everyone wanted seconds so it only lasted one sitting for our family of five and none of the taste team could guess the secret ingredient.
The first step was the most labour intensive with the sweet potato needing to be peeled chopped boiled and mashed. Then chopped dark chocolate was added and melted as it was mixed in.
Meanwhile, the cake ingredients are mixed together then the whole lot combined.
It goes in the tin and into the oven. I don’t know if it was my oven or what but it took longer than an hour to cook.
The icing is more melted chocolate, butter, golden syrup and chocolate pieces!
Almost into the third week so here’s two weeks in one before I have to do three weeks in one!
There was a fifth birthday in our house this week and lots of parties to celebrate so both weeks the baking in the house was cake. Last week I made pumpkin cupcakes which were also seasonal.
This week it was birthday cake.
This is just a regular sponge cake made with the same weight each of self-raising flour, sugar and butter or margarine as 3 eggs plus a teaspoon of vanilla essence. The batter was split into three bowls and each one coloured with a different gel food colouring. When baked and cooled it was iced with shop bought buttercream icing and covered in rainbow sprinkles.
Pumpkins are in all the shops at the moment. It’s a bit soon for carving if you want them to be still fresh on Halloween though plus I hate all the waste so I’m always looking for ways to use what’s emptied out for carving. This recipe requires pureed pumpkin which can be made by baking the pumpkin then removing the seeds and skin or by removing seeds and skin and then boiling the chopped up flesh. It needs to be well strained to remove as much water as possible before being pureed.
I used this recipe which is easy to follow and required things that were already in my cupboard.
The wet ingredients are mixed in a food processor then added to the dry ingredients.
I found it a bit of a liquid batter which made a challenge for getting into the cupcake cases. Best method seemed to be pouring from the bowl which also works your arm muscles! Which explains the messy cake tray.
I needed to make dairy free icing rather than cream cheese icing but apparently failed to photograph after I iced so this is the finished cupcakes. Without the icing, they were almost like muffins. The taste team approved as did the party guests. If I get time and another pumpkin I might try for a low sugar version.