My Christmas Cake

This year is my second attempt at making a Christmas cake. I am not a fan of fruit cakes at all, but I made one to bring home for Christmas last year and it went down a storm. Though that could be something to do with the copious amounts of rum I dribbled into the cake during the weeks leading up to Christmas!

Unfortunately, dope that I am, I never wrote down the exact quantities of ingredients I used. I knew I based my recipe on English Mum’s personalised Christmas cake, so I started with that again, and with a bit of thinking and some consultations with those who actually ate it last year, I think I have managed to recreate it.

At least I hope so, as two extra cakes have been requested this year! I’m also going to go the whole hog and ice two of them. I’ll report back on that (scary) process closer to Christmas.

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Red Onion Marmalade

Christmas baking has taken my kitchen by storm, and I’ve already started testing recipes for preserves and chutneys to give as gifts. I’ve made red onion marmalade before, and it has always been very well received. A deliciously sweet, yet savoury preserve that is perfect in cheese sandwiches, or dolloped on your morning eggs.

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I own too many cookbooks. Ok, maybe not too many. (How many is too many?).

Maybe not as many as this guy. And certainly, I don’t create nearly as many delicious dinners as he does.

But last night, I vowed to make something from one cookbook I had never used before: Nigel Slater’s Real Cooking.

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Autumnal Bakewell Tart

I love this time of year. The weather is cold and dry (though the dry part could end quite soon here in the West!), perfect for evening runs and weekend strolls around town. I really don’t mind the unpredictability of the Galway weather once we get a spell of cool, calm weather like this every so often. Of course, I’ll conveniently forget all this next time it rains for 30 days on the trot and dream of flying south in the winter like the birds. As the weather gets colder, I just crave warm, comforting dinners, filling soups, and rich cakes and puddings. Not quite the ‘light eating’ you get used to in the milder summer months. Though I guess a little of what you fancy can’t be bad?

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Oh my, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Just when I thought I had all the time in the world to make fancy cakes and write about them, my new lack of routine just threw everything askew and time just marched by. I have been baking my ass off but sadly never got round to posting about it. Things have to change around here!

First up, this great recipe for courgette and walnut cake with lime mascarpone frosting. The frosting took (a lot) of inspiration from Jamie Oliver, and is almost the best part, so creamy and lime-y, and goes so well with the rougher, crunchier texture of the cake. Just try not to eat the frosting straight from the bowl.

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Ooh, now this is a lovely recipe. Does anyone remember the sticky Jamaica ginger cake from McVities? Is it still available?  Remember the top of the gingerbread loaf, so sticky and delicious? Perhaps my childhood nostaglia is taking over, and McVities’ offering isn’t so great, but in my mind it’s like a holy grail of gingerbread, and so difficult to replicate. Sometimes homemade gingerbread can be a bit dry and disappointing, and not very ginger-y at all. In this recipe, the Guinness really accentuates the ginger flavour and, along with the sour cream, makes the most moist crumb. The top is sticky, as gingerbread should be, and the flavours and stickiness only improve the next day. Be sure to use the freshest ground ginger you have, not the remains of some sad old jar only brought out from the back of the cupboard for Christmas baking. Lidl (and perhaps Aldi?) both sell ground ginger, so a great fresh flavour won’t break the bank. If you don’t have any ground cloves, you can grind some yourself using a pestle and mortar.

Recipe taken from Nigella’s most recent book, Kitchen. I love this book.

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