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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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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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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The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration. Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.
Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless “bread” to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.

What a delightfully Christmassy challenge this was! I really enjoyed it! Alot of the process of making stollen is waiting around, which actually suited me quite well over the last few weeks as it was doing its thing in the background (proving, resting, baking) while I was busy with other Christmas preparations.

I admit to tweaking the recipe to suit my tastes. I despise mixed peel, so there was no way it was making the cut. I made the original dough (of which I used half to make the traditional stollen wreath) with dried cranberries, and I used the remaining half of the dough to make 2 stollen loaves, adding sultanas and currants. This recipe has been a bit hit with all who have tasted it. It has a lovely spicy Christmas flavour, and is especially delicious toasted with real butter.

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One of my housemates rescued a little puppy earlier in the year, so along with the kitten we rescued, our house is turning into a zoo! Seeing as kitty cat has been included in the Christmas present buying (we bought the loudest, most potentially annoying toy in the shop, perhaps a bad decision in retrospect), it’s only right and fair to include the doggie to0 🙂

This is a quick and easy recipe for little treats for man’s (and woman’s) best friend. I used a bone-shaped cookie cutter, but a plain cutter/glass will work just fine. They are vegetarian, mainly because I had no idea where to locate bacon fat, and I had peanut butter in the cupboard. 🙂

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For years and years, I really didn’t like mince pies. This is related to my dislike/fear of things like raisins, currants and mixed peel. I still haven’t got past the mixed peel (ugh) but I’m getting there with the rest. So, this is my first time ever making my own mice pies.

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Firstly, I have news! I have a new, under-cabinet, kitchen light. Yay!  I can now actually see what I’m doing in the kitchen!

And my photos are marginally better.  About time really. 😉 Next step: a proper camera. Santa? Hello?

Santa?

No, ok then. So, for now, let’s concentrate at the task at hand: using up some mincemeat!

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It has taken me a while to get around to this, but at the beginning of December I took part in my first Irish Foodies Cookalong! The cookalongs take place on the first Friday of every month, and the theme for December is Christmas!

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