Christmas preparartion - thanks to Delia!


I bought this book in Oxfam the other day. Must say I enjoy her programmes - so I've decided to make our Christmas Cake this week......but which one? Think I will make all of them!






Last-Minute Sherry Mincemeat Cake

Delia says,"If you’ve been meaning to make a Christmas cake but haven’t got round to it, fear not – this one can be made at the last minute. In fact, you could bake it on Christmas morning and it would be ready for tea in the afternoon. For the topping, you can use any combination of nuts you like."

Ingredients
For the pre-soaking:
5 fl oz (150 ml) oloroso or other medium sherry
1 x 411 g jar Marks & Spencer luxury mincemeat
4 oz (110 g) ready-to-eat prunes, roughly chopped
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, quartered
6 oz (175 g) dried mixed fruits
2 oz (50 g) whole candied peel, chopped

For the cake:
8 oz (225 g) wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
5 oz (150 g) butter, softened
5 oz (150 g) dark brown soft sugar
grated zest 1 small orange
grated zest 1 small lemon
2 oz (50 g) brazil nuts, roughly chopped
2 oz (50 g) mixed chopped nuts
3 large eggs

For the topping:
approximately 18 walnut halves
approximately 18 pecan halves
approximately 23 whole brazils
1 heaped tablespoon sieved apricot jam
1 tablespoon brandy
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).

Method
Begin the cake a few hours before you want to make it and simply place all the pre-soaking ingredients into a bowl, stir really well, then cover with a cloth and leave in a cool place. When you are ready to make the cake, take a roomy bowl and simply place the soaked ingredients, plus all the rest of the cake ingredients, in it, all in one go. Now, using an electric hand whisk , beat everything together as thoroughly as possible, which will probably take about 1 minute.

Then pour it into the prepared tin, smooth the top and arrange the whole nuts in rows across the surface – one row of walnuts, one of brazils, one of pecans, and so on. Finally, cover the top of the cake with a double circle of baking parchment with a hole the size of a 50p piece cut in the centre. Then place the cake on the centre shelf of the oven and bake it for 1¾-2 hours, or until the centre springs back when lightly touched. Then let it cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning it out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

The finishing touch is to heat the apricot jam and brandy together and brush the nuts with the mixture to give them a lovely glaze. Store the cake in an airtight tin and it will keep beautifully moist for 3-4 weeks.

Scottish Whisky Dundee Cake

Delia says," When people tell me they don't like rich, very moist fruit cakes at Christmas I always recommend a Dundee Cake. It has a lighter and much more crumbly texture than The Classic Christmas Cake and the addition of some Scotch malt whisky gives it a special Christmas edge."
Ingredients
3 tablespoons whisky
6 oz (175 g) currants
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
4 oz (110 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and cut into halves
3 oz (75 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
grated rind 1 small orange
grated rind 1 small lemon
5 oz (150 g) butter, at room temperature
5 oz (150 g) soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
8 oz (225 g) plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
milk, if necessary
2 level tablespoons ground almonds
4 oz (110g) whole blanched almonds (only if you don't intend to ice the cake)
1 miniature bottle (3½ tablespoons) single malt Scotch whisky (for 'feeding')

Method
Begin the night before by weighing the fruit and peel into a bowl and sprinkling it with the 3 tablespoons of whisky. Mix well, cover and leave overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C). Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy – or use an electric mixer for more speed. Whisk the eggs separately, then, a little at a time, beat them into the creamed butter and sugar. Next, using a large tablespoon, carefully fold in the sifted flour and baking powder. Your mixture needs to be of a soft, dropping consistency so, if it seems too dry, add a dessertspoon of milk.

Now, carefully fold in the ground almonds and then the currants, sultanas, cherries, mixed peel and orange and lemon zest. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing it out evenly with the back of the spoon. If you don't intend to ice the cake, arrange the whole blanched almonds in circles on top of the mixture, but do this carefully and lightly; if they are pressed in they will sink during the baking. Place the cake in the centre of the oven and bake for 2-2½ hours or until the centre is firm and springy to the touch.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 30 minutes before taking it out to finish cooling on a wire rack. Then 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of malt whisky – wrap it in double silicone paper and store it in foil or an airtight container till needed. If you like you can feed it again before icing or eating.

Light Glace Fruit Cake

Delia says "This is an absolutely delightful alternative Christmas cake; one for connoisseurs, I think. It's light in colour with a fragrant flavour and the glacé fruits look jewel-like when you cut it open. It works well with marzipan and icing or a glacé fruit and nut topping. "

Ingredients
4 oz (110 g) glacé pineapple, roughly chopped
6 oz (175 g) red and green glacé cherries, roughly chopped
8 oz (225 g) sultanas
4 oz (110 g) dried apricots, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons brandy
4 oz (110 g) pecan nuts, roughly chopped
4 oz (110 g) whole, mixed candied peel, chopped small
2 oz (50 g) angelica, chopped small
2 oz (50 g) crystallised ginger, chopped small
grated zest 1 medium orange
grated zest 1 medium lemon
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz (225 g) caster sugar
4 large eggs
8 oz (225 g) plain flour, sifted
2 oz (50 g) ground almonds
¼ level teaspoon salt

Method
Begin the night before by placing the sultanas and chopped apricots in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the brandy, cover and leave overnight. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C). Add the rest of the nuts, fruit and peels into the sultanas and apricots. Tick everything off as you go.

Now whisk with an electric hand whisk the butter and sugar in another large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Then beat the eggs and add them to the butter and sugar, a very small amount at a time, whisking well after every addition. When all the eggs are incorporated, lightly fold in the sifted flour and salt, followed by the ground almonds and then all the fruit, nuts, etc.

Now transfer the mixture to the tin, levelling it off with the back of a spoon, and place the tin in the oven so the top of it is more or less in the centre. Bake the cake for 1 hour then place a double sheet of greaseproof paper over the top of the tin and turn the heat down to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C), for a further 2-2¼ hours.

When it's cooked it will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin and be springy in the centre when you press lightly with your little finger. You can leave this cake in the tin till it's absolutely cold then peel off the papers and wrap it in double greaseproof paper before storing in an airtight container


The Classic Christmas Cake

Delia says, "This, with no apologies, is a Christmas cake that has been in print since 1978, has been made and loved by thousands and is, along with the Traditional Christmas Pudding, one of the most popular recipes I've produced. It is rich, dark and quite moist, so will not suit those who like a crumblier texture. Recently we took some of these cakes along to book-signing sessions up and down the country and were quite amazed to see so many people take a mouthful and then buy a book!"

Ingredients
1 lb (450 g) currants
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
6 oz (175 g) raisins
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
2 oz (50 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for 'feeding'
8 oz (225 g) plain flour
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (225 g) soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz (50 g) almonds, chopped (the skins can be left on)
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
4 oz (110 g) whole blanched almonds (only if you don't intend to ice the cake

Equipment
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). Tie a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.


Method
You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours.

Next day pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they're all there. The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water. Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale and fluffy. Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won't curdle. If it does, don't worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can't fail to taste good!

When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don't intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking).

Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don't look till at least 4 hours have passed. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's cold 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it

Creole Christmas Cake

Delia says, "This recipe is for those who want a complete break with tradition and to try something completely new. On a visit to Trinidad, the wife of the chairman of Billington's, which imports the dark raw sugar of the West Indies, tasted a most delectable cake and was so struck by it that she managed to acquire the recipe from the wife of the local sugar plantation manager.


Here I offer my own adaptation and would describe it as being much more fruit than cake; it's extremely moist, so much so that it could be eaten as a dessert with whipped cream. Don't be put off by the large amount of alcohol or the length of time the fruit is steeped in it; the wonderful flavour of the cake makes every drop totally worthwhile. This is too rich a cake to marzipan and ice so either leave it as it is or I think it's splendid topped with the Glazed Nut Topping. Then it should be stored without wrapping in a polythene box."

Ingredients
For the pre-soaking
3 tablespoons rum
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons cherry brandy
3 tablespoons port
1½ teaspoons Angostura bitters
½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ level teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground cloves
½ level teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 level tablespoon molasses sugar
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, chopped
1 lb (450 g) raisins
4 oz (110 g) pitted no-soak prunes, chopped
8 oz (225 g) currants
4 oz (110 g) mixed candied peel
2 oz (50 g) mixed chopped nuts
For the cake:
9 oz (250 g) self-raising flour
9 oz (250 g) demerara sugar
9 oz (250 g) butter, at room temperature
5 large eggs

Equipment
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin, or a 9 inch (23 cm) round tin, greased, and the base and sides lined with a double thickness of silicone paper (baking parchment).

Method
One week before you intend to bake the cake, measure out the rum, brandy, cherry brandy, port, bitters and 3 tablespoons water into a large saucepan. Then add the rest of the pre-soaking ingredients, ticking them with a pencil as you go to make sure nothing gets left out. Now stir and bring the mixture up to simmering point, then, keeping the heat low, simmer very gently for 15 minutes. After that allow everything to cool completely, then pour the mixture into a large jar with a lid or an airtight plastic container and leave it in the fridge for seven days, shaking or stirring it around from time to time.

When you're ready to bake the cake, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). All you do is measure out the flour, sugar and softened butter into a very large mixing bowl, then add the eggs and either whisk or beat with a wooden spoon until everything is blended. Now gradually fold in the fruit mixture until it's all evenly distributed. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours without opening the door, then cover the cake with a double thickness of silicone paper and continue to bake it for a further hour or until the centre feels springy when lightly touched.

Cool the cake for 45 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's completely cold, wrap in double silicone paper and then foil and store in an airtight container.

There's no need to feed this cake as it already has enough booze, but it does improve with keeping for about 1 month before cutting.