This year, as every year, as we sat and wondered how we could be a bit more ‘standout’, a bit more creative, a bit more everything else this Christmas, we failed to see what was right under our noses. A team that LOVES to bake, enjoys a drink together and of course, spends all day every day celebrating the world of comms. So, for that reason, this year we decided to send a ‘Three C’s of Christmas’ message.
Our talented MD, Kate Shanks, baked 67 mini Christmas cakes last week (we know, how DID she find the time?) to send out to our clients, filled with currents, crystallised ginger and of course, Christmas cheer.
If you've received a card and a cake from us, you'll have found the ingredients, and in the hope that you loved your mouthfuls enough to make them yourselves, below is the recipe! Now over to Kate…
Kate's Christmas cake!
Cooking is my wonderful escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life, a place where I can go to taste, refine and then share the end result with my friends and family. So with rather a lot going on professionally and personally, a chance to bake these cakes was a welcome relief! I used the recipe below for the mini cakes, but cooked them for just 20 – 30 minutes.
In my mind, a Christmas cake should be rich and spicy; bursting with boozy fruit but never, ever heavy. After all, you need to leave room for a mince pie. Change the fruit amounts to your taste – my original recipe had way more figs, cherries and mixed peel. I don’t like it with too much of that, so I up my sultanas and currants instead. But it’s up to you! I also probably add a lot more booze than the original recipe – it can be brandy, sherry or whisky – whatever your tipple of preference. I also tend to leave my fruit soaking up the brandy for longer than the suggested 24 hours. It all helps with the sumptuous end result.
50g dried figs, roughly chopped
50g glacé cherries, cut in half
50g mixed peel
125ml brandy, plus extra to feed
125g butter, softened
125g muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
130g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
50g whole almonds
25g crystallised ginger, chopped
1. Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the brandy, cover and leave to soak overnight (or even a few days…!). Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment.
2. Preheat the oven to 140C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (do this with a wooden spoon rather than an electric whisk – the love that it takes makes all the difference), then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn't curdle.
3. Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining brandy, the lemon/orange zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.
4. Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect.
5. Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It's done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it's cooked.
6. Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more brandy. With the baking parchment still attached, wrap well in grease-proof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until you're ready to ice just before Christmas. If you’re not keen on the whole marzipan and icing thing, just decorate the cake with whole almonds before cooking.