Category: Christmas

Christmas cake but not as you know it.

mini-jack-daniels-christmas-cake-1

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cakes

Oooooh don’t you just love a mini Christmas cake? I made some last year as gifts and they went down really well. This time I decided to give them a touch of Jack Daniels and I have to say they are gooooood!

I made these ones for a local food bank on behalf of the charity I bake for Free Cakes For Kids. Lots of bakers have made lots of mini cakes so lots of families would have a special cake and it always feels great to be giving and baking for others at this time of year- don’t you think? If you want to join in the fun check out the FCFK website to find your local group. I’m yet to find a group of bakers who aren’t really friendly!

I made these cakes really last minute (meaning I didn’t start in October so I could ply the cake with alcohol) so I had few cheats. I soaked the fruit in the JD for a week before baking the cakes and once they were out of the oven I gave them another really good brush/soak with the good stuff. If you add the alcohol while the cake is still warm the liquid soaks right in. I think a Christmas cake still tastes great even if it hasn’t been drowned in alcohol for weeks or months before.

Once baked I decorated half the cakes with marzipan and white sugarpaste and the other half with just the sugarpaste so there were some nut free options – also so I could eat the marzipan that was left over.

How to decorate Christmas cakes the non traditional way.

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

I didn’t want to go for red or green decorations this year. My original plan was to have a little forrest of sugarpaste Christmas trees standing on top of the cakes but once I had decorated one I realised that they would be really difficult to transport to the food bank and for the families to take home too so I opted for a 2d version.

The Christmas tree decorations were made up a day ahead in pale blues, pink and white so that they could be layered up without drooping. The gingerbread men were also made up ahead of time. After 24 hours the faces were drawn on with a clever food dye pen in ‘liquorice’ black. The trees and gingerbread man were then stuck in place with a little royal icing.

To give the cakes a really professional finish I placed ribbon around the cake and wrapped them in cellophane. I was really happy with the end result. I hope the families will be too when they pick them up later this week.

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

Makes 6 x 4" cakes or 8 x 3" cakes

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

  • 1000g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins, candied mixed peel)
  • 200g dates cut into small pieces
  • 225ml Jack Daniels + extra for brushing
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 260g muscovado sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Prepare the fruit
  1. Place all the fruit into an airtight container and cover with the Jack Daniels.
  2. Leave the fruit to infuse for as long as possible. 48 hours is best. Give the container a shake every now and again.
    To make the cake
  1. Line your cake tin with silicon paper. I have one that has dividers but some bakers have used cleaned out tuna and sweetcorn tins to bake in.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140C (120 fan)
  3. Mix the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs slowly then the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl sieve all the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter and sugar mix until combined.
  5. Finally add the fruit and combine till covered.
  6. Spoon evenly into each cake tin and smooth down with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 2-21/2 hours.
  8. Once out of the oven brush liberally with Jack Daniels and leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the tin and allow to cool completely ready to decorate.
http://cakesbakesandcookies.com/2016/12/08/have-you-ever-made-christmas-cake-with-jack-daniels-once-you-try-it-you-wont-go-back/

Something you can do to help….

I wrote this post before I delivered the cakes to the food bank. I feel now looking back that I brushed over the food bank part. For me this was supposed to be about sharing my recipe for a Jack Daniels Christmas cake. It is in fact about a lot more than that. There are so many people in need in our country and right on our door steps. You may not even be aware that there is a food bank on your high street, in your church or by your community centre. These places are amazing. They’re run mostly by volunteers and the people who need them are often in dire situations.

When I delivered these cakes I met with a band of very jovial volunteers who are loving and caring and so, so knowledgable. There was a young mum who was there as I dropped off. She was collecting a couple of blankets from the centre. She had been housed in the hostel around the corner. The week before she had left a violent relationship with nothing but the clothes on her back and her teenage daughter. She had nothing. She was housed in a hostel so they were safe. The hostel is an amazing resource with a bedroom and some furniture and a kitchen along one wall but that’s it. It’s very, very basic. No bedding, no plates, no comforts. I’m sure she was grateful for a safe and warm roof over her head but having just spent a few hundred quid on presents for my two daughters to then see this young woman with so little but still with a grateful smile on her face was incredible humbling.

So I’m asking you to do something and not just now – for the foreseeable future. When you’re doing your food shopping pop an extra tin of something or a bottle of shampoo in your basket and leave it in the food bank bins which are always situated just behind the checkout. All the big supermarkets have collection bins and the extra pound or two probably won’t make much of a difference to you but it will make a massive difference if we all do it for others.

Thanks

EmmaMT x

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2015

Dear lovely Baking readers.

I wish you and your families the heartiest of Christmases filled with love and food and drink and happiness.

Lots and lots of baking love

EmmaMT

xxx

 

p.s. The recipe for this Mince pie from 2013 can be found by clicking on the image above. 

Christmas Jam recipe: The perfect gift

Christmas Jam recipeChristmas jam recipe

I love to make Christmas gifts, especially for the girls teachers. We put into the group collections but it’s always nice to add a personal something. I’m sure the teaches get inundated with home made stuff so this year I thought we’d go for something a bit different from our usual gingerbread biscuits. We made Christmas Jam. Christmas jam

The jam is really easy to make and you can substitute any fruit you don’t like for something you do. We love apricots and dates but not everyone does. As long as you keep the weight of the fruit the same you’ll get a great result.

My first attempt at jam making was back at the end of the summer with my rhubarb jam. It was so delicious and simple to make that I couldn’t wait to make some more – any excuse eh! This time I thought I’d do it the official way and with the help of Lakeland and their jam thermometer, seriously cute jam jars and some waxed circles I was ready to go.

jam making equipment Tim bought some mini jam jars for his grape jam in the summer so I only needed a few more jars to top up the numbers. I love these ‘Ball’ ones. Such a cute size and shape. The discs come in bags of 200 – so they should keep me going for a while! and the thermometer is fantastic! Not only does it have a temperature gauge in Celsius and farenheight but it also has markings for the correct temperature for other baking – jam making, sterilising temperature, frying fish or chips it even has hard crack, soft crack and firm ball temperatures marked- and before you think I’ve become a crack addict that refers to sweet making. I think fudge and caramel may be next on the list. I also like that it has a clip on the back so you can secure the thermometer onto your pan to stop it getting in the way when you’re stirring.

Christmas Jam recipe:

Christmas Jam recipe:

This recipe will make 10 mini jam jars of 135ml or 3 regular jam jars of 450ml

  • 800g mixed fruit
  • 150ml Brandy/Whisky
  • 100g dried dates
  • 100g glace cherries
  • 100g dried apricots
  • Juice and skin of 3 small oranges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 570g Jam sugar (which contains pectin) ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 200ml orange juice
  1. Place all the dried fruit into an air tight container and cover with the alcohol. Give it a good shake so all the fruit is coated. Leave for 48 hours to infuse or longer if you have the time.
  2. Place all the fruit in a deep pan over a medium heat and cover with sugar. Add the juice from the oranges and lemon and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Cut the skins from the oranges into small slithers and chop up a bit more then add them to the pot. Place a jam thermometer in the pan to allow it to heat up with the jam. Leave it in the pan the whole time.
  4. Continue to cook for 20-30 minutes so the fruit really softens up and infuses in all the spices and juices. Stir occasionally to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom.
  5. If using a thermometer bring the jam up to 105ºC /220ºF. Once this temperature is reached the jam will set. If not using a thermometer you can test if the jam is done by placing some jam on the back of a chilled saucers you have placed in the freezer. Leave it for 30 seconds then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready. If it doesn’t keep boiling for another five minutes and try again on a fresh plate.
  6. To sterilise the jam jars place them in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and keep at that temperature for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs.
  7. While still warm spoon the jam into the jars till it reaches the top. Place a disc of waxed paper over the top and seal with the lid. Leave to cool completely.
  8. Where to store your jam: If you press the centre of the lid down and it moves store in the fridge and eat within 1-2 months. If the top of the jam jar doesn’t move when pressed you have a good air tight seal and you can store your jam in a dark place for up to 12 months.
http://cakesbakesandcookies.com/2015/12/20/christmas-jam-recipe-the-perfect-little-gift/

So what are you making and baking for Christmas gifts this year. I’d love to know?

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lakeland for providing me with the jam jars, waxed circles and jam thermometer for this post. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are entirely my own.

nom nom Christmas jam

 

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Chocolate Ganache Recipe
Chocolate Ganache

If you follow me on Instagram then you would have already seen this picture of the chocolate ganache I made for a birthday cake a few weeks ago. I totally love ganache. I mean what’s not to love – it’s chocolate and cream!

I thought I’d share my recipe with you as it’s really handy to have – especially at this time of year when you’re thinking about making chocolate truffles asChristmas gifts. Usually I use double cream but I had some dairy free soya cream alternative left over so I used that and it was absolutely delish. Soya milk and cream are so much more creamy tasting that regular ones. I think I’ll be using them every time in the future- what’s more it’s great to have a dairy free ganache in your repertoire- don’t you think?

Print off the Chocolate Ganache Recipe here

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Ingredients (this recipe is enough to sandwich and cover an 8″ cake

• 200ml double cream
• 250g dark chocolate- broken into small pieces

To make the ganache

  1. Place the cream in a bain- marie over a low heat making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water below.
  2. Heat the cream till very hot but not boiling – it will burn very quickly and you don’t need it that hot.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the chocolate pieces.
  4. Stir until all the chocolate and cream is melted and combined.
  5. Set aside to cool then pipe or spread over your cake with a palette knife.

Tips with Ganache

  • You can add half as much chocolate again to your mix (ie another 125g) to make your ganache a thicker consistency. Much more chocolate than that and it will be very firm and won’t be easy to spread on a cake.
  • For a dairy free ganache use dark chocolate (Bourneville is buttermilk free – most others aren’t) and a soya dairy free cream. Even if it is single cream the ganache will still taste fab – just add a few more squares of chocolate to thicken it up.
  • Milk and white chocolate both work well with this recipe too.
  • This recipe is great for making truffles. Simply add a tablespoon of flavour – alcohol always works well, once the cream and chocolate are combined. Set aside to cool then roll into balls. Cover in cocoa powder, icing sugar or anything your heart desire.

    EmmaMT x

Merry Christmas bakers

Merry Christmas all you happy bakers out there. I wish you a very merry break over the holiday season.

Lots of love

EmmaMT

Amaretto and Apricot cake with ameretto buttercream and glaze

Amaretto cake with buttercream and glazeSometimes we all need a showstopper cake in our repertoire and this is one of mine.I love a bit of Amaretto and Apricot cake and I seem to be making more and more tall cakes with a touch of alcohol in the ingredients…. and I’m practically teetotal. Well, designated driver at least!

This is a cake I came up with after my lovely friend Jane gave me a beautiful bottle of Disaranno after I made her daughters Minecraft cake.( I’ll have to share that with you sometime. It was a girl version of this one.) The reason Jane bought me this rather than any other drink is because Dr Pepper is my drink of choice – I love the stuff, and amaretto and coke is like alchoholic Dr P. Very good on a school mum’s night out.

Anyway, I was talking to my sister about the disaranno and she said that Amaretto is made from apricots and I was surprised as I always thought it came from almonds. It turns out that it can be made from either.  What a good way to flavour a cake I thought. So I did.

 

Amaretto and apricot cake

For the cake

  • 150g dried apricots (cut into small pieces)
  • 100ml Amaretto
  • 175g butter at room temperature
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • 200g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Amaretto Buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp Amaretto (or 1 tsp almond extract)  this could be increased according to your preferred taste

Amaretto Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • 50ml honey
  • 1 tbsp ameretto
  1. Cut up the apricots into small pieces and soak in an air tight container for 24-72 hours – or longer if you want a boozier cake. Give the container a shake every now and then.
  2. To make the cake: Pre heat the oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC) and line a deep 6″ cake tin or four 6″ sandwich tins- You can use disposable foil ones for a quick clean up.
  3. Place the sugar and butter in a bowl and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs slowly and whisk thoroughly. Add the Amaretto
  5. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mix and fold in gently.
  6. Add the chopped apricots and whatever Amaretto hasn’t been absorbed.
  7. Place the cake mix in the cake tin, smooth with the back of a spoon and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes for sandwich tins (40-50 minutes for a deep tin) until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and after ten minutes take the cake/s out of the tins and leave to cool completely on a rack.
  9. Once the cake is completely cold whisk all the ingredients for the buttercream together in a bowl for 4-5 minutes until it’s really light and fluffy.
  10. Slice the large cake into four layers.
  11. Layer up the cake with a decent amount of buttercream between each layer finishing with a smooth top. You can use a palette knife or place the buttercream in a piping bag for a really easy assembly. Set to one side.
  12. To make the glaze place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Add the honey and Amaretto then leave to bubble for 5-10 minutes until the liquid is a rich golden brown colour, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before pouring into a jug.
  13. When nearly completely cold pour the glaze over the whole cake so it dribbles down the sides. Ensure the glaze isn’t too warm or it will completely melt the butter cream.
  14. Serve straight away

Apricot and Amaretto cake

Enjoy!

 

EmmaMT

x

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