Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category


Blackforest Cake

January 28, 2011

Untraditionally for Christmas this year, I decided to make a Blackforest Cake. There was going to be a mass of people at our family Christmas this year. We were going to have the traditional pudding, as well as a pavlova but for my SIL I decided Blackforest Cake.

Well maybe not entirely just for her………

It’s not something you see very often in the shops anymore, I remember growing up that this was quite often the fare at events. Nowadays it seems to be cheesecakes…or is that just where I am?

Anyway – I made it, and I had such fun doing it. Was a multiple step process. Starting with the cherry filling, then the multiple layers of cake. My cake had 5 layers I even had the shortcrust base, and the layers themselves…well they left a bit to be desired if you ask me. But, they could’ve been worse for sure! and I had such fun assembling, and grating the fairtrade chocolate all over the cake that who really cared?

Blackforest Cake


125g plain flour
10g cocoa
1t Baking powder
50g sugar
1T kirsch
75g butter


350g jar of cherries
30g cornflour
25g sugar
3T kirsch


225g butter at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
2T cocoa
2T milk


750ml pure cream
2T kirsch
50g icing sugar

Base: Sift flour with cocoa & baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, kirsch and softened butter. Mix using a dough hook or paddle beater until combined. Roll out to a 28cm circle, and place into a lined 28cm spring form tin. I still don’t have a rolling pin at the new place, so I simply tipped the mixture into the tin, and pressed it out to fit. Poke the dough all over with a fork, as below. Bake in oven at 200C for 10 or 15 minutes
Cherry: Drain a jar of cherries (reserving all juice but keeping 4T to the side, put juice into a pot and bring to a boil. Mix cornflour and the 4T of juice until all lumps have dissolved and when juice comes to the boil, take off the heat and whisk in this mixture, returning it to the heat until its thick. Remove from the heat, add cherries and once completely cool add sugar and kirsch.
Layers: Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, cool completely
Cream: Whip cream until peaking, adding in sugar and kirsch until smooth and incorporated.
Assembly: base, cherries, some cream, layer, cream, layer, cream etc….cover outside with cream, grate chocolate and cover whole cake.


Christmas Desserts

December 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day, and for those of you who do it, a relaxing Boxing Day as well. Or for those of you brave enough to face the crowds, some excellent bargains at the sales.

We had a lovely Christmas here this year, we were down some people this year with part of the Clan in the UK and my mum and brother on the otherwise of Australia! we did some creative skype webcam goodness though, ate breakfast together (they did pancakes and ham & cheese croissants; we did pancakes (GF) with rhubarb and soy yoghurt, poached egg & bacon and choc chip waffles) and then moved on to opening presents together. The Husband got creative and used our TV to show them, which was nice. The technology wasn’t brilliant of course, but better than nothing right?

We then of course had the main affair with the remainder of the Clan. Food was kept fairly simple, what with my injury and well, the Clan traditionally doing cold spreads! so MIL cooked the Husbands favourite Christmas dish Gammon (studded with pineapple and cherries), and I made Silverside (as requested by my Puppa) with Mustard Sauce and Cranberry & Macadamia stuffed Chicken. We also roasted vegetables and steamed others. It was yummy.

However, this post is about the desserts! The 2 I created anyway – there was a choc-orange pudding as well, but this was purchased, and I already posted about the GF pudding (which went down a treat, with GF & DF custard) but these 2 were my favourites!

On the left we have a vanilla bean creme brulee made especially for the Husband who will not eat Christmas Pudding to save his life. It didn’t turn out perfectly, I think I may have slightly over cooked the custard base but it still tasted delicious, and looked so good speckled with vanilla and then with its gorgeous burnt sugar top (thank you Husband for my birthday present!) and the Husband ate 3 of the 4 created so it can’t have been to bad hey?

The Pudding….oh the Pudding! I wanted to eat all of it too myself, I ate a huge slice as it was, and everyone went back for seconds. Even MIL who usually only likes a “slither” because she says she doesn’t really like Christmas Pudding that much. I served mine floating in custard (just the way I like it) all warm and toasty, others just had a small dollop of custard (cold….) and still enjoyed it. The fruitiness was just right, texture, moist and perfectly pudding like. Oh if I do say so myself it is one of the best puddings I’ve ever had! there was half of it left at the end – I fear I went a little overboard, this I provided to our neighbour because he was unfortunately having a lonely Christmas with just a flyby visit from his daughter and her husband before they went on to their main event. I did not know this until half way through my day though, otherwise I would’ve invited him over. He keeps me supplied with fresh eggs all year round from his chickens! And, I saw him on boxing day and he informed me he ate half of it in one sitting because it was that good – gosh these wonderful ego boosting things!

Anyway, below are the recipes for the two desserts. Both were adapted from recipes I originally got from BBC Food

Christmas Pudding – made at least 2 months in advance

225g caster sugar
225g butter (frozen and grated)
955g mixed fruit
60g candied peel
110g plain flour
110g breadcrumbs
55g flaked almonds
zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs beaten
1t ground cinnamon
1t mixed spice
1t nutmeg
150ml rum (I use white rum)

Lightly grease 1 x 2L pudding basin (or multiple smaller ones)
Mix together all the dry ingredients
Stir in the eggs and rum, mix well
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, cover with a circle of baking parchment and foil secured with string.
Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the water up from time to time. The water should cover the sides of bowl up a third of the way. I always use my pasta pot so I can just lift out the steamer at the end.
Cool. Change the baking paper and foil. Store in cool cupboard for Christmas Day, feeding it every now and then.
On Christmas Day steam as before for 2 hours.

Vanilla Creme Brulee

300mL cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup of caster sugar (plus extra for top)
3 egg yolks

Combine cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the sugar with egg yolks until thick, remove the bean from the cream and stir cream into egg yolk mixture.
Transfer to a heavy based saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over a low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, do not boil.
Remove from the heat, divide equally between 4 ramekins and cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours if not overnight.
To Serve, sprinkle the surface with extra caster sugar to form a layer about 3mm thick. Use torch to caramelise sugar – or you can use a hot grill. Allow to cool before serving.


Gingerbread house

December 24, 2009

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Due to the fact that I believed (pre-injury) that this month was going to be a crazy one full of baking different things, and well because I’d always wanted to make a gingerbread house I jumped on this challenge immediately. I was in the kitchen almost as soon as I read what the challenge was.

We had two choices for the dough and I followed the Great Scandinavian Baking Book’s recipe just because the ingredients required were those I had on hand (seriously, I jumped on the challenge as soon as I read it, going to the shop was not an option) I also made the simply syrup and royal icing for my decoration.
Now, I should quickly add that icing is a bit of a problem for me. I can make it fine, it tastes great, but the actual art of decorating?

Well……I’m abysmal (ergo recent purchase of: Essential Cake Decorating Cookbook) which fits in nicely with my Flavour of the Month Essential Christmas Cookbook ok side track done.

I had a lot of fun with this all the same, even if when I look at everyone else’s wonderful decorating I feel inferior! I did get my house to stand though so I feel that was an accomplishment for me and oh my word did it taste good! Oh it was so good, I was so glad of the left over dough because I just kept nibbling and nibbling as I was going. If I could pick at it some more (and you always can) it could have probably done with being rolled out a little thinner, but having said that I do prefer my gingerbread men fat, so it was just a default thing for me I think. And I made plenty little ginger bread men to give away as well, so many people benefited from this challenge.

Thank you very much! And I will start working on those decorating skills for next year!

Daring Kitchen


Reindeer Shortbread (and Speculaas)

December 24, 2009

This no movement (and ergo no baking business) is really not cutting it. Especially not this close to Christmas, not when I’ve been planning on making cookie goodness for giveaways this week for the last few months. I like to do it last minute, as close to Christmas as I can. And alas….I can’t. However, I can post about two lots of biscuits I made earlier in December before injury for a work Christmas function we had to bring something too.

Of course, seeing as this month’s Flavour of the Month is Essential Christmas Cookbook the biscuits are from there.

I love Christmas, as I may have mentioned. I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a white Christmas in 2004 (in Scotland) but I’ve always wanted to experience Christmas in mainland Europe. One day I will, along with Hogmanay in Scotland!

What attracted me to these two recipes though were that desire and that memory. The reindeer is care of SIL for my birthday!

To quote the book: in Germany, preparations for Christmas start weeks before the day. Things such as advent wreaths, candles and calendars put everyone in the mood. The enduring tradition of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century but is said to have been popularised much later by the Germans, to whom it symbolised eternal life. In the 19th century they decorated their trees with fruits and biscuits which couldn’t be eaten until after the Twelfth Night when the tree was taken down.

Speculaas (German/Dutch) – a biscuit from the Rhine area in Germany and neighbouring Holland.
405g plain flour
1t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t ground cardamom
160g softened butter
310g brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
45g ground almonds

Preheat oven to 200C Cover baking trays with paper.
Sift flour, spices together in a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg mixing well and then the milk. Fold in the almonds then the sifted flour mix. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 45minutes.
Take from fridge and roll out into 4mm thick – can cut into shapes if you want or bake directly on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes (mine take closer to 10 due to my oven!)
Cool the biscuits on wire racks. When cold, store in airtight container.

Scottish Shortbread
250g butter, softened
160g caster sugar
210g plain flour
90g rice flour
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a tray with baking paper
Beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flours. Mix to a soft dough with a flad-bladed knife. Lift onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to the tray (the recipe suggested a pizza tray so you can flute and cut into segments….which would be more traditional but I didn’t) Bake in middle shelf for approximately 35minutes or until firm and lightly golden, cool on the tray.


Coke in Ham

December 16, 2009

In fairness of the “baked ham” mentioned in my Daring Kitchen post I thought I best give it it’s own entry. I have been using my Flavour of the Month cookbook, I promise, I just haven’t written all the entries yet, slack I know! That’s the plan for the weekend.

Anyway, so I’ve always wanted to try Nigella’s Ham in Cherry Coke from Feast so because the Clan decided to have a bit of a combined birthday/Christmas last Friday before BIL, SIL & Little E went away I thought this occasion called for something a little festive. So, Salmon en Croute from the Daring Kitchen and this ham seemed perfect!

I made a few adaptations from the normal recipe. I could NOT find cherry coke anywhere, so it became just ham in coke, but I did add far more cherry jam then the recipe called for in a little hope of adding some more of that flavouring. The end result to me, was delightfully soft, moist and tasty ham that I had to keep restraining myself from picking it before dinner was served! It didn’t win the Husband over in quite the same way as his usual Gammon Christmas Ham does (recipe for this will follow closer to Christmas, care of MIL!) but he did like it a lot and was happy to munch away on left over’s for a couple of days post meal so it wasn’t a failure either.

Ham in Coke

2.25kg boneless mild cure gammon
Approx. 6 cans of coke
1 onion
Approx 16 whole cloves
8 T cherry jam
1 t smoked paprika
½ t red wine vinegar

Put the ham snugly into a large saucepan and fill with cold water. Put the pan on the heat and bring to the boil, then drain the ham into a colander, wash the ham under the tap and rinse the saucepan before putting the ham back in (this is to get rid of some of the saltiness)
Add the coke and the onion to the ham and if the liquid doesn’t cover the ham add some water. Put back on the heat and bring to the boil, turn this down to a simmer partially cover the pan and cook for about 2 hours.
When you are ready to glaze the ham, preheat the oven to 230C. Remove the ham from the liquid, reserving it for later and sit the ham on a board. Strip off some of the rind and a little of the layer and stud with cloves. Put the jam paprika and red wine vinegar into a saucepan and whisk together over the high heat, bringing to the boil and simmer until it reduces to a syrup consistency.
Sit the ham in a roasting pan pour the glaze over and put into the oven for 15minutes. Take the oven out of the oven, remove the cloves and rest before you carve it.


Gluten Free Steamed Christmas Pudding

November 27, 2009

My grandmother is coming for Christmas this year. And, for years now she’s been unable to eat wheat. She’s not a traditional gluten free-ite, she can still have oats for example, but she cannot have wheat. So, we have to improvise for her. She also can’t have dairy and is a vegetarian so at times that can make life extra difficult. But having said that, the challenge is also good – I enjoy that as well.

We traditionally make a pudding for the family of course it’s been done already as well. It is being fed every now and then to keep it moist. But, it didn’t seem fair that we would all benefit from pudding and that my grandmother would have nothing. So I thought I’d try my hand at a pudding, which made me a little apprehensive because sometimes these things are dense and solid and difficult to digest. You can’t however, let these things stop you can you? Of course not!

So hunted and searched, merged a number of recipes together and came up with the below recipe! I didn’t have a great day so I needed the challenge to make me feel better. I set to work, well… Kitchen Aid really set to work, I just added things together and let it go but that was enough to make me feel better. And I was truly happy with the result, I had a little nibble and it was good!

Not dense at all, well the right amount of dense – because it is a Christmas pudding after all! Not gritty either, basically just good!

Christmas Steamed Pudding

225g Gluten Free Flour mix (I used a combination of Almond Meal, Rice Flour and a mix that I’d done previously of Corn Flour, Tapioca and Soy)
1/2 tsp each ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice
1/3 cup golden syrup
2 cups mixed dried fruit – whatever you like best
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
125g butter or margarine (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil)

Cream butter (if using, otherwise mix oil), sugar and golden syrup together.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.
Add all other ingredients and stir well to mix.
Place in a greased pudding bowl. I used 4 little individual custard cups/ramekins. However, any kind of heat-proof pudding basin will do fine. I have to cover with greaseproof paper, then with foil, and secure the covering well. Place the bowls in a large saucepan with hot water reaching about half way up the sides of the bowl, and bring to the boil. Keep the saucepan covered. I use my pasta cooking saucepan so I can lift out the bowls easily at the end.
Reduce the heat and steam for 2 hours. Keep the boiling water about half-way up the sides of the pudding basins. You will need to check it from time to time and top up with boiling water.
Will keep for a little while like normal puddings, but needs to be warm, so to serve do the same for about half an hour again.
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