christmas cakes 2013

christmas cakes and chocolate dinosaurs


Please excuse the chocolate dinosaur cakes. They were an experiment which clearly needs more work. No wonder the bloody creatures are extinct.

fruit for the Christmas cakesI actually got round to doing my Christmas cakes reasonably early (for me) this year. And inspired by my friend Jane’s most excellent, if sporadic, food blog, I have done them slightly differently. I always use this recipe from Nigel Slater, but I’m really quite cavalier about what dried fruits I bung in – it just depends on what’s in the cupboard.

The recipe calls for 1kg of fruit, so I did a quick inventory; I had a 500g bag of Waitrose luxury dried fruit mix, about  100g of dried cranberries, and a few rather elderly figs. So I wandered over to Aldi to see what they had, and came back with this 300g of dried fruit for £1.69. And it was all cut into little pieces, so I only had to chop the figs. Hurray.

I put all the fruit into a mixing bowl, added about 3 tablespoons of cooking brandy, stirred it around, and left it overnight with a plate over it, issuing dire warnings to Pete not to lift the lid unless he needed his sinuses cleared.

Now, I make a Christmas cake because I feel I should, but we don’t actually like it all that much (I know, I know). And I never ice or marzipan it, because it would just be too sweet for us (which is why the photograph on the recipe is just dusted with icing sugar). And then we have this enormous hunk of cake that we struggle to eat. But Jane’s recipe gave me an idea. I thought I’d make a ring cake in a savarin mould, and some individual ones in my spiffy mini sandwich tin from Lakeland.



On Sunday morning, I found the fruit looking deliciously plumptious, and the brandy all absorbed, so I dug out the tins ready for greasing before making the recipe. And – how utterly bizarre – I didn’t have a plain savarin ring. Fluted, yes. Plain, no. And I didn’t think fluted was going to work. I phoned Lakeland in Beverley, yes they had one in stock, yes they’d put it aside for me (they really are a great company to deal with). And off we bimbled, taking in an Americano at Café Nero on the way.  And some Cake Release as well, for the bloody dinosaur moulds.

I digress.

Cakes were made – one savarin ring, ten individual ones. They’re now wrapped in foil, awaiting drip feeding with brandy (except the one we ate, because you have to *try* them, don’t you), I’m seriously considering making some candied orange slices to decorate them with – could work, don’t you think?

Note to self: for this mix, at 160 fan, this recipe needed about 45 minutes for the ring, and about 35 for the individuals.

p.s. That’s the first time I’ve actually used that mini sandwich tin, but now I’ve tried it, I can see all sorts of uses for it.