Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cake(Iced Fruit Cake)

For the cake
1lb 2oz sultana raisins

9oz golden raisins

7oz glacé(candied) cherries, halved

4oz dried currants

4oz cut mixed peel

4oz  dried figs, roughly chopped

4oz dried apricots,  chopped

4oz dried pitted prunes, roughly chopped

5fl oz brandy

1 small orange, grated zest and juice

9oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

200g/7oz dark muscovado sugar

5 medium eggs

10 oz AP flour

7oz macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Finishing decoration:
3 Tablespoons apricot jam

1lb marzipan

5oz ready-to-roll white fondant icing

Royal icing

Candy silver balls, to decorate

Powdered sugar, to dust

1.       Put the sultanas, raisins, cherries, currants, peel, figs, apricots and prunes in a large bowl and pour over the brandy, orange zest and juice. Mix well, cover and leave to stand overnight.

2.       Line the base of a 23cm/9in cake tin with a double thickness of parchment paper. Line the sides of the tin with a double thickness of parchment paper, so that it rises 1½-2in above the edge of the tin. Wrap a sheet of folded parchment around the outside of the tin and secure with string. Stand the prepared tin on a parchment baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 300° F.

3.       In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Add the fruit, its soaking liquid and the nuts and mix well. Stir in the flour, taking care not to over mix it. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake for 3-4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts to get too brown, cover with a sheet of parchment.

4.       When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. Store the cake in an airtight tin, wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil for between two and three months. Feed the cake with brandy every 2-3 weeks until you are ready to decorate it.

5.       Pass the jam through a sieve and warm it in a pan with 1 tbsp of water. Invert the cake onto a serving plate or board. Use a little of the marzipan to fill any gaps between the cake and the plate. Brush the jam all over the cake. Roll out the remaining marzipan and lift carefully onto the cake, easing it around the sides. Trim off any excess with a sharp knife.

6.       Roll out the fondant icing to a¼” in thickness and cut out as many Christmas shapes as you can, re-rolling the trimmings. Set aside on parchment paper to harden. Meanwhile, make up a batch of royal icing. Spread the icing over the cake to cover it, then roughly peak it using a spatula. Arrange the stars on top and scatter over the silver balls. Leave the icing to harden, then dust the cake with icing sugar.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Royal Icing

It’s that time of year when many will head into the kitchen to bake a gingerbread house to decorate for the holidays. I am often asked what can be done to prevent the pieces from falling off, and the answer can be found in selecting the right icing for your project. If you’re looking for the perfect icing to use in the construction of your gingerbread house, royal icing will save the day.  Royal icing dries to a hard, smooth finish, and is used for decorating and frosting cakes and cookies. Royal icing is the perfect glue to attach pieces of your gingerbread house because it dries to a rock-hard yet brittle texture.  It has a crunchier texture than buttercream or store bought frostings, but can also be thinned with water to glaze pastries, or Bundt cakes. This glaze can also be spread with the back of a spoon to create the look of snow, or icicles hanging from the roofline of your house.

3 ounces pasteurized egg whites (3 tablespoons meringue powder can be substituted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1.       In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy.
2.       Add powdered sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn mixer to high speed and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. (This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.)
3.       Add food coloring, if desired. Use immediately
4.       Icing can be store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yorkshire Puddings

I was asked to provide a recipe for Yorkshire Puddings that would equal the quality of those served in the United Kingdom. The secret to getting these little treats to rise is that all of the ingredients must be at room temperature, and the oven should not be opened while they are baking. Failure to heed these instructions will result in very dense and flat puddings.
7/8 Cup All Purpose Flour (1 Cup minus 2 Tablespoons)
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs, Beaten
½ Cup Milk
½ Cup Water
1.       Preheat oven to 400˚ F
2.       Sift Flour and Salt in a large mixing bowl.
3.       Create a well in the center of the flour, and pour the milk into the center. Mix well.
4.       Beat the eggs into the mixture. Add Milk slowing while beating the mixture between additions.
5.       Add water and beat until large bubbles appear at the surface of the mixture. Allow mixture to rest 5 minutes.
6.       While mixture is resting, heat a 9 x 12 baking dish, or muffin pan containing about ¼ inch of beef drippings, or melted butter in the oven.
7.       Pour batter into hot pan until it reaches a depth of just slightly more than ½ inch.
8.       Bake for 20 minutes at 400˚F, and then reduce temperature to 350˚F.
9.       Continue baking 10-15 additional minutes until golden brown.
10.   Serve Immediately.