Once again I should probably be apologising for a lack of Christmas posts. But you know what? I’m not going to. I’ve been that damn busy enjoying the festive period that well, I’ve not really had time to do updates. I’ve been baking plenty, but the food I’ve been making has been going straight to the plate. Since my last update I’ve also died of a hangover. This is my ghost writing this. I’m not exaggerating. My work Christmas do left me a shell of what I once was. I think it made my top 5 hangovers and possibly clinched the number one spot. Those that follow me on twitter, sorry, but I took it out on my twitter feed with some live tweeting.
Apparently my Cranberry & Orange loaves arrived in one piece and were devoured by the winners. I apologise for not sending out others like I said I may, but at £8.50 a pop I just couldn’t afford the postage. In the new year, you are all (well some), getting cake sent across.
I wanted to do something properly Christmassy. So who wants a Yule Log? This is basically my Chocolate Swiss Roll recipe slathered in chocolate and made to look like a log. If anyone wants to pass me some holly I’ll get it looking extra festive.
I’ve failed at a couple of recipes of late, and it’s annoyed me a little. I tried making a gingerbread sleigh the other day and just couldn’t get it to stick together. Not quite right anyway. Below is a fairly awful picture of what I did make, along with some pretty awesome Christmassy treats from Lindt. It didn’t stick together well and didn’t photograph well, so it doesn’t get its own post I’m afraid.
Preheat the oven to 200°C(180°C fan assisted) and line a swiss roll tray with paper. Whisk together the sugar and eggs for 5-10 minutes until it forms a pale, creamy mixture. The whisk should leave trails.
Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and mix well. Be careful not to knock the air out but make sure it is well combined with no clumps.
Spread the mixture out evenly into the prepared pan. Using a palette knife to ease it into the corners. Place in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes (or until the cake is springy to the touch. I could have baked mine for a minute or so less).
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, covered with a damp cloth. In the meantime, lay out a large piece of greaseproof paper and dust with cocoa powder. Transfer the cake to this.
While it cools on the new parchment, make the buttercream. Melt the chocolate, either using a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water, or in the microwave. Set aside and allow to return to room temperature.
Sift the icing sugar in a mixer with the butter and cream together. Pour in the chocolate and cream until well mixed.
Spread the buttercream over the whole cake, making sure it goes to all the corners. Carefully roll the swiss roll from the longest edge close to you, getting the roll as tight as possible.
Once rolled tightly, cut off either end at a slight angle, use these to make the branches of your log.
Cover the log in the remaining buttercream, using a fork afterwards to drawn the pattern of the bark. Dust with Icing Sugar to get it looking extra festive.
IT IS CHRISTMAS NEXT WEEK. GET EXCITED. Stick on your favourite Christmas song, get the wine mulling and tuck in to some form of festive sandwich from your local convenience store. Better yet, make one a Cranberry and Orange Loaf. I love this recipe and make it every year, several times, yet somehow I managed to not write it up last year. I think it was because it’s something I usually make to gift to people or to take places. Which means I never get a chance to actually photograph it.
Speaking of gifts. This is actually the prize from my Mystery Cake Box giveaway I ran in November. So congratulations to the winners and I hope you enjoy the cakes. I may well be sending a few of these in the direction of some friends if I’ve got time this week so keep an eye on the postie.
It contains nuts, usually walnuts but I’ve made it with pine nuts for a nut allergy fearing mother before now. The crunch that gets added from the nuts and the extra flavour is a great addition. I have tried a recipe that replaces the Orange with Orange Juice and I have to say, it was much too orangey for me and a bit too sharp. This is a much preferred method and I thought I’d lost the recipe a couple of years ago but managed to dig it back up. It’s one of the few that I have on a scrap of paper that has somehow survived a few years.
It’s something I usually bake in batches of 2-3 as well. Which you will see below as this recipe makes 2 loaves. The only really time consuming bit is halving all of the Cranberries.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (155°C fan assisted) and grease/line two loaf tins.
Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer, add the zest.
In a measuring jug combine the butter, juice and eggs. Add enough water to the jug to make it about 350ml.
Pour into the dry and mix at a medium to low speed until just combined.
Add in the cranberries and walnuts and mix again.
It makes a very thick gloopy batter. Divide this up evenly between the two prepared tins and place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf will come out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to set in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool
Christmas is in 9 days. I repeat, Christmas is in 9 days. Where the hell has the time gone? I am running out! With a trip to Scotland booked in from December 21st to December 27th, I am very limited with the time I have left, to shop, bake, see the Hobbit and generally exist along the way. However, it’s time for my second Festive Baking recipe. And you guessed it, it involves cinnamon. Although what you may not have expected was Nutella. And what you may also not have expected, with it being festive, is that they are muffins. Cinnamon topped and Nutella stuffed Muffins, yum. What makes these different as well is that they use a slightly different flour to the usual plain white. I used a plain wholemeal, which made them slightly heavier but also works great on a cold night and compliments the Nutella and Cinnamon really well.
The recipe only makes a few, 9 to be exact, but can be very easily doubled (and will be later this week when I am baking for a party). Speaking of the party, I’m also baking a couple of my Cranberry and Orange loaves, as well as some Reindeer pretzel cookies! It is the day I finish work for Christmas, so it’s safe to say that I’ll undoubtedly be a little worse for wear before it’s done. I’m also starting to plan in bakes for when I’m up at my parent’s cottage on Mull next week.
December is here. That means one thing. Cinnamon. On everything. The festive season is great, mainly due to the food. I always put on a ridiculous amount of weight. But man is it worth it. I’ll be baking my Cranberry & Orange Loaves as gifts for a bunch of people, but other than that I’ll be keeping things fairly themed. These Cinnamon Swirl Chocolate Chip Loaves are just as delicious. They have just enough cinnamon for it not to overpower everything. The recipe, which I found on Sally’s baking addiction (the things she can do with cinnamon!) is fantastic. So I thought I’d kick off my festive baking with this. The loaves are perfect to go with a cup of hot tea or coffee. They are warming and moist.
I haven’t much more to say about these (I’m having a bit of writer’s block at the moment), other than you really need to try them.