Alternative Christmas Cake
Ho ho ho...where has the year gone to again? I don't know why I seem surprised - the same thing happens every year.
It's at this time of year that people want something a little bit special in a cake, but if you want something a little different from the traditional fruitcake then what are the options?
There are plenty of ways of adding more of a festive flavour to cakes and bakes you might enjoy all year round.
Try adding chopped preserved ginger to your favourite brownie recipe - my go to one is created by Lorraine Pascal, and is a little more cakey and not quite so dense as with most brownie recipes.
How many of you still get clementines in your stocking (and for those of you who no longer get a stocking then I think that you need to have words with someone)? If you do, then how about turning them in to a delicious curd: juice and zest of 3 fruit, 100g sugar, 100g unsalted butter all melted in pan, allowed to cool before adding 2 large eggs and 1 yolk, whisked in, heated up so that the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon; finally sieve to remove any cooked whites. This can then be used to fill a Victoria Sponge (with some added clementine yest). along with some Cointreau-infused whipped cream. Very decadent!
For something a little more spectacular how about the German baumkuchen, or 'tree cake, which is actually also a popular dessert in Japan. The cake is made up layers of spiced almond cake, which is almost a pancake batter and is supposed to represent the layers of a tree, hence the name. Jamie Oliver has a good recipe here or for a more traditional Japanese variation check out this blog post on the Chopstick Chronicles
If you're after something a little more chocolatey and nutty then I recommend that you try an Italian Christmas cake. This cake is packed with almonds and wlanuts, but of course you can add your own favourites if you prefer other nuts, such as hazelnuts or pecans, and doesn't need to be prepared way ahead of when you want to eat it. A great recipe is on the Delia Smith website who uses a recipe from the Italian food don Anna Del Conte.
Cooking any cake in a bundt tin instantly gives it a festive twist I think, and making a gingerbread cake in one just epitomises Christmas. One of my favourite gingerbread cake recipes is on the amazing Call Me Cupcake - the lingonberries in this recipe are a very Scandinavian ingredient but can be substituted for redcurrants. This site is a treasure trove of amazing recipes as well as stunning food photography.
One of my favourite cakes to eat is the Russian Honey Cake that I make. The cake has a delicious combination of spiced gingerbread layers filled with a toasted salted honey cream which is mixed with dulce de leche and sour cream. The outside is covered with a crumb coating of crushed gingerbread biscuits and caramelised walnuts. So so moreish and a perfect dessert for Christmas. Clink on the page on my website to find out more.
Whatever you indulge yourself with, have a fabulous Christmas.