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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

  1. Stump de Noel – a special chocolate Christmas cake

    December 27, 2014 by sarah

    Here is a picture of the chocolate cake I made for our work Christmas Eve party. I am very proud of it!

























    I feel this was one of my most successful cakes yet. It looked stunning and tasted delicious! By 6pm that evening there was just one small knob of cake left and some crumbs!

























    Inside is a four tier moist buttermilk chocolate cake. I also made a tray bake using the same recipe and decorated it with left over meringue mushrooms and buttercream. Between the two, the cakes fed 30-40 people with generous slices. I will post the recipes for the chocolate cake and chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and I’ll put up the directions for the meringue mushrooms imminently. This was my second or third attempt at Swiss meringue buttercream. Previous attempts were rather heavy but this time it turned out how is was supposed to be and it was the perfect soft creamy feeling in the mouth but not overbearingly buttery or sweet; almost like eating chocolate mousse on a cake! I think the difference has to be in using a stand mixer to make it; it really gets lots of air into the meringue. So I can reveal one of the Christmas presents from my husband; a Kenwood stand mixer. I had to open it before the day so I could use it to make this cake but is had been sitting on our bedroom floor for about 3 weeks prior to this so I knew what I was getting (plus my husband asked what model I wanted so it was a bit of a give away)!

























    It wasn’t until I had added the extras to the finished cake did it sit so resplendent on its old silver tray. This whole cake is most definitely better than the sum of its parts; meringue mushrooms, chocolate shards for bark, fudge cut surface with rings, oreo cookie dirt, green coconut moss, chocolate and tuile biscuit leaves. It was an endevour to get this cake together. I think it was a total of about 10 hours work; 4 hours at the weekend making chocolate things and the meringue mushrooms and 6 hours on the afternoon/evening before the party to make the cake and icing and assemble it. I love how this cake looks rustic and rough around the edges but that it only adds to the reality of the finished art work. It is a cake to be proud of!

























    Here are some pictures of me making it.


    The cat helping.


    The four tiers and some of the tray bake.


    Piping on the icing.


    Perfect SBC consistancy.



  2. What a turkey!

    December 24, 2013 by sarah

    I can finally reveal the ‘other’ Christmas cake I have been working on now it has been unveiled and eaten; a roast turkey cake with the trimmings!















    I also made roast potatoes (lemon drizzle fairy cakes), sprouts (lemon white chocolate truffles), carrots (orange flavoured shortbread) and peas (green fondant and marzipan) and served it with gravy (chocolate sauce). Bring it on Heston!

    I really enjoyed the challenge of planning, designing and executing this beast of a cake! But I also need to give credit to my husband for his inspired suggestion. It went down well at the practice Christmas party this lunch time; there is nothing left which means job well done! Here is The Boss carving it!
















    So here are some of the steps in making it. I started with 3 layers of cake (gingerbread, orange and spice and vanilla) and glued them in a stack with butter icing to signify the dark and light meat you get with a real turkey. Plus the cake for the bottom had to be really sturdy to stand up to the weight on top! I then set about sculpting it into the desired shape, comparing to pictures of real roast turkeys online – you can see the intense look of concentration on my face! Then came a butter cream layer to get the icing to stick and a sit in the fridge to firm up. The icing is in fact softened dairy fudges! Putting them in the microwave for 10 second bursts then kneading and rolling out quickly before it cooled, it was stressful! Then came the covering of the cake beast, using hands to sculpt the fudge layer neatly around the carved cake. Finally, the finishing touches; fudge leg bones, texturing the skin with a dimpled piece of plastic and colouring with coco powder mixed with vegetable oil to give a real shine. Done!

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  3. Christmas Cake

    December 19, 2013 by sarah

    I only started making our Christmas cake annually a couple of years ago. It seemed like too much hassle and the supermarket one was fine if you doused it up with enough booze. But then I bit the bullet and it has definately become an annual ceremony. The actually making doesn’t take too long; the fruit is best boozed up a few days before, a bit of stirring and then hours in the oven when it just needs occasional checking but not onerously. And then the boozing up, my favourite ritual. Once a week, or more if I remember, the cake is unwrapped, prodded, sniffed and then liberally painted with booze. I write ‘booze’ because I don’t think it really matters what you use so use up those dregs at the back of the cocktail cabinet (what, you don’t have one darling) but I stipulate it must have flavour (so no vodka), not be cream based and be greater than 20% alcohol (so no syrupy things). Don’t ask me if you can make it without the alcohol; this recipe has mandatory alcohol. This cake is best made several weeks before it is due to be eaten; Delia suggests a minimum of 8 weeks, so perhaps it should really be an October Half Term activity but I usually don’t remember until mid to late November and it still tastes great.

    Christmas Cake
    (Delia Smith with some of my alterations)
    1kg mixed dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, glace cherries, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, dates, figs) I added a quarter of this weight in dates from our trip to Morocco
    50-100ml booze (sherry, brandy, rum, whisky…)
    250g unsalted butter
    250g light brown soft sugar
    200g plain flour
    50-100g nuts (whole or flaked almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans etc)
    4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs from my girls
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tsp mixed spice
    1 tbsp black treacle
    grated rind of one lemon and one orange
    Several days before you plan do do the baking, put the fruit mixture into a glass bowl and add the booze. Cover with cling and shake daily until ready to use.
    Preheat the oven to 160 °C/140 °C fan with a shelf in the bottom third of the oven. Butter and double line a 20 cm round tin, with enough baking parchment to come several centimetres above the top of the tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with several sheets of newspaper secured with string. Sit the tin on top of more folded newspaper on a baking tray. Make a hat for the tin with double thickness of parchment cut to a circle that just fits inside and cut out a small circle in this in the centre (fold the squares of parchment up into quarters, the quarters again then round off the outer corners to give a circle and cut the point out of the circle – comprendé?).
    Cream the butter and sugar until very light. Whisk the eggs separately then add one at a time to this, mixing well between and adding some of the flour if it looks like it will curdle. Sift the flour, spices and salt over the top and then fold in. Fold in the fruit (and any booze left behind), the nuts, the treacle and rinds.
    Tip this mixture into the prepared tin and level off the surface. Place into the preheated oven and leave alone for 4 hours – walk the dog, do some study etc. The cake may take up to 4 and half hours but you still want a few crumbs sticking to the metal skewer when you test it; if you over cook it, it will be dry no matter how much booze you add. Leave to cool totally in the tin before unwrapping and then make some holes with a skewer all over the cake and brush or spoon over more booze. Wrap the cake in greaseproof paper and in a tin and repeat the feeding process ad infinitum.
    Decorate as you wish (no fondant for me please!).
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