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!

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!

Regular Rye Bread

So, I received 3 cookbooks for Christmas and I can’t wait to slowly attempt the plethora of recipes that await. However, I really want to polish up my bread baking skills first before I try anything too advanced. Bread is just one of those things that isn’t really complicated ingredients wise, but the process can be a bit tricky. My aim is to try a basic recipe, then build upon it. As I bought a small bag of rye flour recently, I thought I would try a basic rye bread recipe. Here is what you’ll need:

1 tablespoon active dried yeast

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1  3/4 cup strong white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 
First, combine the warm water and sugar in a bowl, mixing until dissolved. Then add the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it begins to bubble and foam up. You will then add the olive oil.


Measure out your flour and add the salt to it.


Add the flour mixture to liquid bit by bit until combined. It will seem sticky at first.


Go ahead and begin to knead it. As you handle the dough, the water will absorb. You want the texture to be smooth, which can take up to 10 minutes. It may not take as long if you use a mixer.


Cover the dough and let rise for about 20 minutes.


I then punched down the dough and put it in a bread tin to achieve a second rise.

Cut a few slits on top, then pop into a heated oven at 350 F / 180 C for 25 minutes.

 And there you go, a simple, regular loaf of rye bread. It came out soft with a lovely flavor. It can be enjoyed on its own, or with a hot bowl of chicken stew that has been in the slow cooker all day.

However,  as delicious as the bread was, it didn’t achieve much of a rise after I put it in the oven. It rose well initially, but it may have needed more water. Or maybe it didn’t need a second rise. Hmm, I don’t know, but I plan on trying again. Anytime you use a whole grain flour, the gluten structure may be affected (so I’ve heard), so sometimes more water may need to be added. Or less oil; I read that too. Well, back to the drawing board. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!