Festive Flavours

PUBLISHED: 08:11 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:52 28 March 2014

Chocolate baked Alaska

Chocolate baked Alaska

Carol Wilson tempts us away from traditional Christmas cakes and puds

If your family don’t like rich fruity Christmas cake and pudding, you might like to try these alternatives which are lighter but just as festive and delicious.

Cranberry, orange and walnut pudding

220g cranberries
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
500ml milk
200g fresh breadcrumbs
75g golden granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
golden icing sugar to finish

Soak the cranberries in the orange juice for at least two hours. Heat the milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs. Stir well and leave until almost cold. Beat well until thick, and then beat in the egg, most of the sugar, orange zest and half the walnuts. Pour into a well buttered 23cm baking or flan dish and sprinkle with the remaining nuts and sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes Gas 4/180ºC until golden. Serve hot or cold dredged with sifted icing sugar. Serves 4.

Candied fruit pudding

225g candied fruit, for example citrus peel, cherries, pineapple, etc
3 tablespoon fruit liqueur (cherry, orange, etc) or brandy
6 tablespoons golden caster sugar
225g Madeira cake cut into 2.5cm cubes
450ml single cream
4 eggs, beaten

Soak the fruits in the liqueur or brandy for at least an hour. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the sugar on the base and sides of six greased dariole moulds. Combine the soaked fruit with the cake cubes and divide between the moulds. Heat the cream and remaining sugar until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from the heat, cool slightly then beat in the eggs. Pour evenly into the moulds, over the cake mixture. Place the moulds in a large roasting tin and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Bake for 40-45 minutes Gas 4/180ºC until the puddings have set. Remove from the water and leave for a few minutes before turning out and serving with cream. Serves 6.

Christmas syllabub

75g sultanas
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
4 tablespoons ginger wine
3 tablespoons dark rum
600ml double cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g flaked almonds
75g dark Muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon chopped crystallised ginger

Put the sultanas, orange rind, ginger wine and rum into a small bowl. Cover and leave overnight. Next day, mix together the orange juice and Muscovado sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream and spices and whisk until stiff, then fold in the soaked sultanas. Spoon into serving glasses and sprinkle with the almonds.  Chill before serving. Serves 6-8.

Chocolate baked Alaska

Use a ready made chocolate loaf cake to make these tempting desserts
3 tablespoons rum or brandy
4 tablespoons sultanas or raisins
8 chocolate cookies
4 scoops vanilla or rum and raisin ice cream
4 square slices chocolate cake
3 egg whites
175g light Muscovado sugar

Place the sultanas or raisins in a small bowl with the rum or brandy, cover and leave to stand for at least two hours. Grind the cookies to crumbs and place on a plate. Roll the scoops of ice cream in the crumbs, until completely covered, then place them on a baking tray and open freeze for at least 30 minutes until firm, then cover with cling film. Place the cake slices well apart on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and scatter a spoonful of the soaked sultanas or raisins on each slice. Place a scoop of ice cream in the centre of each and return to the freezer. Whisk the sugar into the egg whites, a tablespoonful at a time until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue over the ice cream and spread to cover completely. Bake for about 5 minutes Gas 8/230ºC until starting to brown. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Medjool date and almond cake

Medjool dates, plump, rich and sticky, with a glorious toffee-like flavour, and more expensive than ordinary boxed dates, are well worth the extra!
150g Medjool dates, roughly chopped
110g sultanas
110g blanched almonds roughly chopped
75ml Amaretto liqueur
150g unsalted butter
150g light Muscovado sugar
3 eggs, beaten
110g self raising flour
110g ground almonds
To decorate: 2 tablespoons apricot jam
300g almond paste or marzipan
To finish: beaten egg yolk for glazing

Put the dates, sultanas and walnuts in a small bowl and pour over the liqueur. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift in the flour and gently fold into the mixture with the ground almonds. Stir in the soaked fruit and spoon into a 20cm greased lined cake tin.  Bake for 40-50 minutes Gas 4/180ºC until cooked through – when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Roll out the almond paste on a surface dusted with icing sugar and cut out a circle using the base of the cake tin as a guide. Cut out holly leaves with a cutter from the surplus marzipan. Heat the jam until melted then brush over the top of the cake. Place the almond paste circle on top of the cake. Place the holly leaves around the edge. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg yolk and put the cake into the oven for about 5 minutes at Gas 6/200ºC until the marzipan is lightly browned. Cool the cake completely. Store, wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight tin for up to a week.

Spiced Christmas tart

225g shortcrust pastry
75ml sweet white wine
600ml double cream
4 egg yolks
2-3 tablespoons golden caster sugar
pinch ground mace
pinch ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon saffron threads
110g medjool dates, sliced
55g ready to eat prunes, sliced
55g ready to eat figs, sliced

Line a deep 20cm flan dish or tin with
the pastry. Bake ‘blind’ for 15 minutes,
Gas 7/220ºC. Put the wine, cream, egg yolks, sugar and spices in a bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water and cook gently, stirring until starting to thicken. Leave to cool. Place the dried fruits in the pastry case and strain over the cooled custard. Bake for 20-25 minutes Gas 4/180ºC until the filling has set.
Serve warm or cold. Serves 4-6.

Mincemeat pudding

75g butter
75g dark Muscovado sugar
2 eggs, beaten
110g self raising flour
225g mincemeat

Cream the butter and sugar until light. Gradually beat in the eggs. Gently fold in the flour, followed by the mincemeat. Spoon into a buttered shallow 20cm baking dish and cook for 10 minutes Gas 3/170ºC, then reduce the heat to Gas 2/160ºC and cook for about another 30-40 minutes until cooked through and golden. Serve with cream or custard.
Serves 4.

Cranberry, orange  and almond cake

225g unsalted butter
225g golden caster sugar
4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
75ml fresh orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
110g cranberries
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g flaked almonds
To finish: golden icing sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
golden caster sugar.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the whole eggs and yolk, one at a time, followed by the orange juice and zest. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the butter mixture with the cranberries. Spoon into a 20cm greased lined cake tin. Scatter the almonds on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, Gas 4/180ºC until cooked through – when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack. This keeps well in an airtight tin for up to five days. Just before serving sift over the golden icing sugar and scatter with frosted cranberries.
To frost the cranberries: brush the berries with lightly beaten egg white and toss in golden caster sugar. Leave to dry on non stick baking paper.

Golden fruit cake

175g dried apricots
6 tablespoons whisky or brandy
225g butter
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
225g light Muscovado sugar
50g ground almonds
4 eggs
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
175g multi coloured glace cherries, chopped
110g stem or crystallised ginger, chopped finely
110g glacé pineapple, coarsely chopped
110g candied peel, chopped coarsely
50g candied mango or papaya
110g walnuts, roughly chopped
110g physalis (Cape gooseberries)
110g golden granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water

Soak the apricots in the whisky or brandy for at least four hours or overnight. Cream the butter and sugar with the lemon and orange rinds until light and fluffy, then stir in the almonds. Whisk the eggs until pale and thick, then gradually whisk into the creamed mixture until well mixed.

Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and gently fold into the mixture with a metal spoon. Stir in the orange and lemon juices, soaked apricots, the candied fruits, ginger and the walnuts. Spoon into a buttered 23cm round cake tin lined with a double thickness of buttered greaseproof paper or non-stick baking parchment and make a slight hollow in the centre. Bake just below the centre of the oven for 21/2 hours, Gas 2/150ºC, then cover the cake loosely with foil and reduce the heat to Gas 1/140ºC and bake for another 11/2–2 hours until cooked through – test with a skewer, which should come out clean. Cool the cake in the tin, then turn out and wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool but not cold place for up to three weeks.  

To make the decoration: just before serving the cake, fold back the papery leaves of physalis (Cape gooseberries) to reveal the yellow fruit. Place the golden granulated sugar in a pan with the water and heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Boil for 2–3 minutes and remove from the heat. Dip the physalis carefully into the hot caramel and place on a cold surface to set, but don’t chill them. The contrast of crunchy caramel coating and soft juicy berries is delicious. Incidentally, physalis are rich in vitamin C.


This article is from the December 2006 issue of Country Smallholding magazine.
<< To order back issues click the link to the left.



Interact with other smallholders and post your questions

Visit our forums

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Country Smallholding