Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stollen wreath cake

Well, there's no getting around it with this one - it's a Christmas bake. It looks like Christmas and it tastes like Christmas. I apologise but I cannot break my posting order!

At Christmas I was determined to make an actual Christmas cake - it's been something I've wanted to do ever since I started baking, but since I hate fruit cake and also I'm not the best at cake decoration, I'd managed to get out of it every year. This year though it was happening! And it sort of did, but as you can see, I still got away without actually having to cover a cake properly with marzipan etc. Ha! In your face, erm, me!

I'd had a few recipes bookmarked but in the end decided on a stollen wreath cake I'd seen in Good Food magazine - and available online here. Although the list of ingredients seemed mega long, it was actually pretty straight-forward to make, although I think I over did it slightly - the cake was still pretty moist, but was very crumbly. All the tasters gave it the thumbs up, but I can't comment myself as there is no way that something containing that much fruit is passing my lips!

I was absolutely gutted to have arsed up the icing - it didn't look too runny in the bowl, but as soon as it got onto the cake it was clear it was nowhere near thick enough and I was quite devastated by this. I also had a small paddy when trying to make the fondant holly - I just could not get them to shape properly despite there being a very helpful tutorial in the magazine. After two I roped Mike in to have a go and I'm fairly sure the only ones that made it onto the cake were his, mine were pretty gruesome looking. As it was Christmas Eve I tried not to ruin Christmas by sulking too much about it!

This year I really must try a 'proper' Christmas cake, I am determined to overcome my fondant icing fears!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Candied citrus peel

You'll have to bear with me for the next couple of posts as I catch up on my Christmas baking! To be fair, this candied citrus peel will do at any time of the year... I just happened to make it at Christmas.

In my defence, to me it's more of a 'holidays' recipe than a Christmas one - the past couple of years we've been to Nice and candied fruit is in abundance there. I'm not so much of a fan but Mike loves it, so I decided to make some at Christmas as I thought it would be nice to have in a jar in the lounge for snacking on. For some reason I get it in my head that there must be bowls of things lying around the house at Christmas to be snacked on and and I always have to talk myself out of getting nuts every year - when I was little there would always be, every year without fail, a bowl of nuts (plus a nutcracker) sitting in the lounge all throughout Christmas and I'm fairly sure that every year they were never touched.

One of the many simmering stages
Anyway, I digress - this is a really simple recipe which only involves 3 ingredients (you could get it down to two if you only use one kind of fruit! Or push it up to 4 if you want to add the chocolate...)  and so it's brilliant for a budget homemade gift at any time of year. It's also a great way of using up leftover citrus fruit - I know in our house we are often left with oranges and lemons if I've bought a bag for baking something. But it does involve a bit of time and even though I'm sure everyone does this already, read through the recipe thoroughly first as you'll need to make sure you've enough time for all the simmering, draining and drying out of the peel.

 The recipe is from BBC Good Food and is available online here.

I was so pleased with how the candied peel looked in the end and I though it looked really pretty in the jar. It keeps for 6-8 weeks in an airtight container so it was a great one to make at the beginning of the Christmas period, whack into a Kilner jar and have on hand for sweet treats at Christmas for a break from the chocolate. I have a feeling I will have to make up another batch to combat the holiday blues soon, although it might just make us feel worse to munch on candied peel out of a jar while staring at the rain lashing down on the window rather than sloping about in the beating hot sun in France!

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