Spiced Christmas Cake

The festive season is well underway, but I feel like I haven’t had that many sweets. As I’m feeling better after being ill, I’m finally ready for the treats! So I decided to make something festive and full of what Christmas tastes like to me. Make way for this Spiced Christmas Cake which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground giner
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • mincemeat filling (optional)
  • powdered sugar to top (optional; ignore the white sugar in the photo. Imagine its powdered sugar since I noticed the mistake just now.)

First, measure out the flour into a large bowl. Then add the baking powder and soda, salt, brown sugar, and all the spices. Combine evenly.

Next in a separate bowl, beat all four eggs very well. Whenever I make a cake, I make sure that the eggs are as smooth as possible. This ensures a silky batter with an even rise; well, most of the time anyway. The last thing you want is to take a bite of cake and then find a bit of scrambled egg in your mouth!

Once the eggs are beaten, add the vanilla, vegetable oil, milk, and applesauce. In the states, its easy to find smooth applesauce, and sometimes several brands to choose from. In the UK, it’s more of an accompaniment with meat I believe, and there are jars of it especially around the holidays. I found a small jar at Tesco on Broadmead for 55p, made with chunks of bramley apple.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of flour and spices, and mix very well. If you have a mixer, use that, other wise get a whisk and combine everything well to form a smooth batter.

Line a round baking tin with baking paper, or butter and flour. Pour the batter into the tin and let it settle for a few minutes.

Heat your oven to 180 C / 350F and bake on the middle or low rack for ~35 minutes. I like to bake cakes a bit lower on the racks to avoid browning the cake top too soon.

Once it comes out of the oven, let it cool completely. Then you can really get creative to how you want to spruce it up! I cut it in half creating a top and bottom. Here you can add a layer of cream, or to make it truly festive, spread on a layer of mincemeat! Then top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

And there you have it, Spiced Christmas Cake! This cake is fragrant with seasonal spices and goes great with a cup of tea or coffee. I made this for my work Christmas lunch, and completely forgot to take a photo before we cut into it. This is because I waited til the morning of to put the finishing touches to the cake while I was making my breakfast and getting some slow cooker soup together in the crock pot. And I wonder why I get so tired at the end of the day! Anyway, although there are a lot of ingredients that go into this cake, its totally worth it! The cake is super moist and the flavour is just devine. Its what Christmas tastes like! I hope you get the chance to give this cake a try and that it becomes a part of your Christmas dessert recipes. Have a very Merry Christmas, and as always, thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

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Spiced Shortbread Biscuits

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. In the run up to Thanksgiving, I became very ill resulting in a bad sinus infection causing me to come to a grinding halt. I’m usually doing so many things at once, so it was annoying to have to just stop and do nothing in order to get better. So with just days until Christmas, I thought I should at least post a few recipes as my energy levels are slowly on the rise. Cue a super easy cookie recipe with only a few ingredients but lots of spice. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

First, measure out the flour, sugar, and spices into a bowl and combine well. You should already be able to smell the warming spices coming together.

Next, cube the softened butter and work it into the dough with the vanilla.

You can use a mixer, or just use your hand (like me!). However you do it, you will have a soft, smooth dough eventually.

Once the dough has come together, form it into a cylinder shape, that resembles, um, a wooden log, ha, ha. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill, then using a sharp knife, cut off circular shapes and place on a lined tray.

Bake in an oven heated to 350 F / 180 C and bake for 15 – 17 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your biscuits.

And there you have it, Spiced Shortbread Biscuits! These were super easy to make, and they really don’t require an array of ingredients.  So if you’re looking for something simple to make for your workplace, for Santa on Christmas Eve, or for yourself, give these a try! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Parsnip and Carrot Soup

So, Christmas is officially over, and if you’re like me, you may still be in a food hangover. Also, you may have lots of leftover root veg. We went to Aldi on Christmas Eve and found that they had their super 6 veg on sale for 9 p! So, of course I got a few bags of parsnips and carrots. When I woke up this morning, I realized we had to do some cooking! So, my husband is guest chef today and is preparing a lovely parsnip and carrot soup. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 5 parsnips
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (garnish)

First, peel your root veg after giving them a good cleaning.

Next, you will chop the root veg, onions, and garlic. When chopping the parsnips, cut out the fibrous, woody core. This makes a sweeter, less bitter flavour.

Sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil. Once softened, add the garam masala.

You will then add the parsnips and carrots, mixing it around in the fragrant sautéed bits.

Lastly, add a liter of chicken stock. You can used prepared stock, or you can quickly make it with stock cubes. You can easily make it vegan by adding veggie stock.

Cover, and let it simmer for an hour, or until the root veggies are softened.

Turn off the heat, remembering to add the chopped ginger at the very end. Once it cools for a few minutes, use a hand blender to blend until very smooth.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds, and there you have it, Parsnip and Carrot Soup! This was the perfect thing to make on a lazy Boxing Day, and full of nutrients for you hungover peeps. You can even add chunks of leftover turkey or ham for an even heartier soup.

I really love the mild spice the garam masala and ginger adds. Very warming, without being too intense. You can easily make it in a slow cooker for a filling midweek meal. I really liked the way it turned out and this may be on a regular rotation in my household. Enjoy the last days of 2017 and here’s to baking and cooking wonderful things in 2018! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Mince Pie Twists

Christmas is nearly upon us and since I’m exhausted, I wanted to make something easy, yet tasty for a potluck at work. So, pave the way for Mince Pie Twists, one of the easiest Christmas treats you can make. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Two boxes of puff pastry rolls
  • Jar of mince pie filling
  • 1 egg for egg wash

First, roll out one sheet of puff pastry on a clean surface. If you’re worried about it stick to the counter, lay out some parchment paper, or lightly flour the surface.

Next, spread the mince pie filling evenly across the pastry.

You will then place the second sheet of pastry on top. Lightly press down.

Using a sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut the pastry into longitudinal strips. Then cut each strip in half.

Go ahead and twist each strip and place it on a lined or greased baking tray. Beat the egg, and brush onto the exposed bits of pastry.

Place in the oven at 350 F / 180 C for 20 minutes.

And there you have it, Mince Pie Twists! This treat is so easy to make, but looks like something you spent hours on.

It is the perfect baked pastry to bring to Christmas parties and get togethers. You can pretty much put anything in the middle really. A few delicious options include: nutella, jam, chutney, salsa, cheese, peanut butter, etc.

I hope you enjoy making this, as I’m sure it eill turn out perfect. As always, thanks for reading, and Happy Eating!

Grain Free Mince Pie Thumbprint Cookies

It was a lovely weekend here in Bristol. And even though today gave us a bit of drizzle, it’s perfect weather for more Christmas baking. Today’s recipe is a great way to enjoy the flavour of a mince pie, but in cookie form. It is also a great option if you’re looking for a grain free, dairy free, AND egg free dessert. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Your choice of mince pie filling

First, melt the coconut oil and add it to the honey and vanilla.

On a side note, I picked up this lovely orange blossom honey at the Bristol Christmas market from Nature’s Pantry. Their stall was located near the M&S entrance. There was a lovely selection of honey and candied fruit. I may even go back this week for more!

Next add the salt and ground almonds. Mix well until the liquid is fully incorporated.

Since the dough uses ground almonds, it is very crumbly. You will have to shape it carefully to make sure there is a good indentation in the middle. I made these quite large, but you can make them smaller if you’d like.

You will then put a heaping tablespoon of mince pie filling into the middle of each cookie.

Heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on how brown you’d like them to be. I left them in for 13 with my oven, but I think I’ll try for 11 next time.

And there you have it, Mince Pie Thumbprint Cookies that are grain free, dairy free, and egg free!

This recipe is really simple and yields a chewy, yet satisfying treat. You can easily make it vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey and by using a vegan certified mince pie filling. These also are very lovely with jam in the middle if you don’t happen to have any mince pie filling. And if you haven’t started already, get to baking! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Almond Softies

December is finally here! I love this time of year because there’s a chill in the air and the best way to warm up is by baking something sweet! For my first recipe this month, I’ll be making Almond Softies which are a perfect treat for the Christmas season. Here is what you’ll need:

For the cookie dough:

  • 1 cup (225 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups (240 g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ~3 teaspoons water
  • sliced almonds
  • festive sprinkles (optional)

First, cream together the butter, sugar, and almond extract. It helps if the butter is room temperature.

In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Next, you will incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add it two tablespoons of flour at a time to ensure an even and smooth dough.

Place the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden up.

Spoon and slightly flatten small balls of dough, lining them evenly on a lined cookie sheet. Heat your oven to 400 F/200 C and bake for 7 minutes.When you take them out they will be very soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

As the cookies are cooling, you can prepare the glaze. Pour the powdered sugar into a small bowl, adding the almond extract. Stir in the water, one teaspoon at a time until the glaze comes together.

Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and add sliced almonds and sprinkles to garnish.

And there you have it, Almond Softies! As said in the name, these delights are soft and melt in your mouth with each delicious bite. These are a great addition to a Christmas party as they are always a crowd favourite. Even without the glaze and toppings, they are a hit and super easy to make. The only problem is never making enough!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and that you liked eating them even more! Until next time, stay warm Bristol! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Christmas Sugar Cookies with Festive Icing


Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone has had a festive season with friends and family. This last seasonal cookie recipe is a simple favorite I’ll be bringing to the in-laws today. It’s a simple sugar cookie recipe with simple icing, and it’s the kind of thing you can always modify according to your tastes. Here is what you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 
First, cream the butter and sugar. Then add in the beaten egg and vanilla, mixing very well.  Finally add in the dry ingredients bit by bit until a dough forms. It really is that easy! Put into the fridge for 3 hours, or until dough is chilled.


Once the dough is cold, roll it out and cut out various shapes with your cookie cutters. Place onto a greased or lined baking tray.


Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F / 180C.


Once baked, take out of the oven and let cool completely. Sometimes I’ll even bake them the day before I ice them.


Now for the icing! It’s pretty simple, just a bit of milk and icing or powdered sugar. You can start by trying 2 tablespoons of milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. It will take a lot of sugar to get the right consistentcy. Keep stirring with a whisk adding the sugar bit by bit.


Add your food coloring and continue to stir.


Once it’s nice and thick, you can begin icing your cookies.


Use a bit and lightly spread it towards the edge using the tip of your spoon or even a toothpick.


Sprinkle while the icing is wet and let dry completely, and there you have it! Festive Christmas cookies. There are so many ways you can decorate these, but I chose to go simple this year. I may try some piping next year, but we’ll see. Wherever you are, have a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the food around you and hopefully I’ll have some ideas for leftovers soon! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!