A few nights ago I hosted a Christmas shindig/weaning workshop for all the mums in Rosalie and I’s NCT class.
In preparation for this I baked some festive fancies to keep us going throughout the evening. I made a sticky gingerbread mountain, star topped mince pies and a chocolate Yule log all courtesy of nigella. I made some mulled wine and hot spiced apple too.
The spread was pretty darn good even though I do say so myself so I thought I’d share the recipes with you. There is nothing like a bit of festive baking to get you into the Christmas spirit. The Yule log was so good I have decided to make it for dessert on Christmas Day.
So here are the recipes:
for the cake
- 6 large eggs (separated)
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 50 grams cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 teaspoons icing sugar (to decorate)
for the icing
- 175 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
- 250 grams icing sugar
- 225 grams soft butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF.
- In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking, sprinkle in 50g of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over, then fold both in.
- Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
- Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
- Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar it may help with preventing stickage, but don’t worry too much as any tears or dents will be covered by icing later. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel.
- To make the icing, melt the chocolate – either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or, my preference, in a microwave following the manufacturer’s guidelines – and let it cool.
- Put the icing sugar into a processor and blitz to remove lumps, add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the tablespoon of vanilla extract and pulse again to make a smooth icing. You can do this by hand, but it does mean you will have to sieve the sugar before creaming it with the butter and stirring in the chocolate and vanilla.
- Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment, rather than the tender cake, makes this easier.
- Cut one or both ends slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board or long dish. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two; you get the effect by placing a piece of cake at an angle to look like a branch coming off the big log.
- Spread the yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer or somesuch, remembering to do wibbly circles, as in tree rings, on each end.
- You don’t have to dust with icing sugar, but I love the freshly fallen snow effect, so push quite a bit through a small sieve, letting some settle in heaps on the plate or board on which the log sits.
– You can make this ahead Ive actually made it for christmas day already and popped it in the freezer.
for the pastry
- 240 grams plain flour
- 60 grams vegetable shortening
- 60 grams cold butter
- juice of 1 orange
- 1 pinch of salt
- approx. 350 grams mincemeat
- icing sugar (for dusting)
- Make the mincemeat in advance or buy I jar of mincemeat from the shop.
- When you are ready to make your mince pies, get out a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm / 2 inches in diameter, along with a 5.5cm / 2¼ inch fluted, round biscuit cutter and a 4cm / 1¾ inch star cutter.
- Measure the flour into a shallow bowl or dish and, with a teaspoon, dollop little mounds of vegetable shortening into the bowl, add the butter, diced small, shake to cover it, then put in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is what will make the pastry so tender and flaky later.Mix together the orange juice and salt in a separate, small bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to chill.
- After the 20 minutes, empty the flour and fat into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until you’ve got a pale pile of porridge-like crumbs. Pour the salted juice down the funnel, pulsing until it looks as if the dough is about to cohere; you want to stop just before it does (even if some orange juice is left). If all your juice is used up and you need more liquid, add some iced water.
- If you prefer to use a freestanding mixer to make the pastry, cut the fats into the flour with the flat paddle, leaving the bowl in the fridge to chill down for the 20-minute flour-and-fat-freezer session. Add liquid as above. I often find the pastry uses more liquid in the mixer than the processor.
- Turn the mixture out of the processor or mixing bowl onto a pastry board or work surface and, using your hands, combine to a dough. Then form into 3 discs (you’ll need to make these in 3 batches, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once).
- Wrap each disc in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7/425ºF.
- Roll out the discs, one at a time, as thinly as you can without exaggerating; in other words, you want a light pastry case, but one sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat. This is easy-going dough, so you don’t have to pander to it: just get rolling and patch up as you need.
- Out of each rolled-out disc cut out circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins; I use a fluted cookie cutter for this. Press these circles gently into the moulds and dollop in a scant teaspoon of mincemeat.
- Then cut out your stars with your little star cutter – re-rolling the pastry as necessary – and place the tops lightly on the mincemeat.
- Put in the oven and bake for 10–15 minutes: keep an eye on them as they really don’t take long and ovens do vary.
- Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and letting the empty tin cool down before you start putting in the pastry for the next batch. Carry on until they’re all done.
- Dust over some icing sugar by pushing it through a tea strainer.
For the cake
- 150g butter
- 200g golden syrup
- 200g black treacle or molasses
- 125g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 x 15ml tablespoons warm water
- 250ml full-fat milk
- 2 eggs, beaten to mix
- 300g plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3 and line a roasting tin or ovenproof dish (approx. 30cm x 20cm x 5cm) with Bake-O-Glide, foil or baking parchment (if using foil, grease it too).
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over a lowish heat along with the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves.
- Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda in its water.
- Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter, so don’t worry. This is part of
- what makes it sticky later.
- Pour it into the prepared tin and bake for 45–60 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.
- Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the tin before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it.
Hot Spiced Apple
- 1 litre of Apple juice
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 orange (zest, then cut into slices)
- Put all the ingredients in a pan bring the temperature up to just before boiling and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
- You can then serve or leave the ingredients to infuse overnight for a deeper flavour I tend to just make it as I want it as its so easy and I like the lighter flavour.
I just want to thank you for following us at Rosey Home. I hope you have enjoyed sharing the last year with us. If there is anything you’d like to see more or less of or any new content do let me know.
I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a Happy New year, however you may be enjoying it. I’m going to make the most of being a breastfeeding mama and eat my weight in cheese and chocolate while I can and Ill see you back here in 2015!