Monthly Archives: November 2014

Stir it up, stir it up…

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We LOVE this time of year. Love it, cannot get enough of it.

Stir Up Sunday (23rd November this year) is the perfect excuse to put aside some time to do our Christmas baking, especially with the family: traditionally everyone in the family has a stir of the Christmas cake and makes a wish. So heat up some mulled wine, put on some festive tunes and grab an apron! Normally on the baking list is a traditional Christmas cake, a Creole cake, a Christmas pudding and some mince pies. We love Christmas baking so much that we actually have TWO different Delia Christmas books. We also have Nigella’s Christmas, which has some delicious recipes in, as well as Mary Berry, Raymond Blanc and the Great British Bake Off. One of our favourite things about Christmas cookbooks, are the pictures; they are so inspiring when it comes to ideas for presentation and decorating.

Christmas cakes are usually made on stir up Sunday to allow for a decent amount of maturing and ‘feeding’ of more alcohol. However a Creole cake has so much booze in it already that making it a bit nearer to Christmas shouldn’t be a problem. You can always feed it with a bit extra if you want. Depends how drunk you want to get off of one slice!

This is Delia’s Creole Cake recipe, it’s very hard to get wrong and can be decorated with something as simple as a few glazed nuts, but we all know half the fun is getting creative with the decoration!

 

Ingredients:

For the Pre Soaking:

3 tablespoons rum

3 tablespoons brandy

3 tablespoons port (we used chocolate port this year-yum!)

3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons Angostura bitters

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon molasses sugar

450g raisins

225g currants

110g no-soak prunes, chopped

50g glace cherries, chopped

110g candied peel, finely chopped

50g mixed chopped nuts

 

For the Cake:

250g self-raising flour

250g demerara sugar

250g butter, at room temperature

5 eggs

This mixture will fit a 20cm square or round tin. This needs to be greased and double lined with baking parchment.

Method:

One week before you intend to make the cake, measure out the alcohol into a large saucepan. Now add the rest of the pre-soak ingredients. Tick them off as you go so you don’t forget anything. Stir and bring to a simmering point, then, keeping the heat low, simmer gently for 15 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool (it smells AMAZING) then put it into a jar with a lid or an airtight plastic container. Store in the fridge for 7 days, shaking or stirring it around every now and then.

When you are ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 140C/GM1. Mix the sugar, butter, flour and eggs in a large bowl until everything is blended.

When everything is evenly blended gradually mix in the fruit until it is evenly distributed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of a 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 baking parchment and continue to bake for another hour or until the centre feels springy when lightly touched.

Cool the cake for 45 minutes in the tin, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. When it is completely cold, wrap in double baking parchment and foil and store in an airtight container. This will mature well over a month. Feed with more alcohol at odd intervals if you wish.

Decorate!

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Autumn days, when the grass is jeweled…

Whenever we are asked when our favourite season is, it is always hard to make a decision. Summer springs to mind instantly, what with the sun, but lets face it that’s often lacking here in the UK! And as I sit here with the sun streaming through the window, orange leaves scattered on the floor and the remnants of this mornings light frost clinging to the grass, it has to be said that Autumn really does have its winning moments. So to celebrate that we thought we would share some of our favourite things about the season:

1. Mulling, spices and a general excuse to make and consume warm alcoholic drinks. Be it-mulled wine, spiced cider or a grown up hot chocolate, it certainly makes the darker evenings more enjoyable.

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2. Halloween, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Sunday. As soon as British Summer Time ends, and often before (we are looking at you retail!), Christmas is thrust upon us, but we love all the autumnal festivities that are part of the run up to December just as much.

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3. Seasonal produce. Autumn really comes into it’s own when it comes to food. Apples, Pears, Celeriac, Blackberries, Pumpkins, Chestnuts, Cranberries, Jerusalem Artichokes, Scallops, Venison, Wild Duck-delicious!

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4. Fireworks. A perfect excuse to get together with friends, wrap up warm, enjoy great food and drink, and ooo and aaah to your hearts content.

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5. Knitwear. Jumpers, scarves, hats, cosy socks. Autumn is the perfect time to admit that you are happy to get out the chunky knits again and put away the shorts and flip flops!

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6. Autumn Walks. Getting outside, kicking up leaves and enjoying nature-even better when finished with a stop at a quaint country pub. Well it would be rude not to.

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7. Boots. Tan, black, grey, high heeled, chunky, over-the-knee, leather, suede, fur-lined. The list is endless. Whatever your preference, we do love getting the boots out to finish off an outfit.

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8. Cosy nights in…or out. Finding somewhere with a fireplace and blankets for a quite evening is always a winner.

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9. It’s no longer bikini season! Which means you don’t feel so guilty indulging in all the great, hearty food that’s around. Not that it stops us at any other time of the year either!

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10. It’s nearly Christmas! Ok, we admit it, one of the best parts about Autumn is knowing that festive season is that little bit closer. Bring on the sparkles!

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November 6, 2014 · 2:00 pm