If you're planning any kind of family Christmas or Yuletide celebration this year, especially if you're hosting the event. Or even if you're thinking of what you need to do in terms of preparing food for a family gathering then now, the beginning of November, is where you need to begin your cooking. Many Christmas cakes and confectionaries need to be prepared well in advance so that they can be allowed time to mature. This is particularly the case with rich fruit based cakes and puddings such as Christmas cake, for more details visit to www.300-dip-recipes.com Twelfth Night Cake and Christmas Puddings. Even Stollens are better if stored for a week or two before consumption.
With that in mind, and to help you with your festive planning here are some classic Christmas recipes for you. This first is for the traditional Twelfth Nigh cake, which is typically served at Epiphany, or the Twelfth Nigh but which can also double as a rich Christmas cake:
Twelfth Night Cake
350g caster sugar
6 eggs, beaten
350g plain flour
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
700g mixed dried fruit
50g blanched almonds, chopped
45g apricot conserve or apricot jam
900g almond paste (or marzipan)
4 egg whites
900g icing sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp glycerine
glacé fruit, candied angelica and silver balls, to decorate
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well after each addition then add the brandy. Fold-in the flour, spices, fruit and nuts. Grease a deep 25cm cake tin and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper. Tip the cake mixture into this and tap to remove any trapped air. Place the cake in an oven pre-heated to 150°C and bake for about 2.5 hours, for more details visit to www.chicken-wing-cookbook.com or until the cake is firm to the touch. If the top of the cake darkens too quickly cover with a sheet of folded greaseproof paper about half-way through the cooking. Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool in its tin for 30 minutes then tip onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Once cold cover the surface of the cake with the apricot preserve or apricot jam. Roll out the almond paste and cut just enough of the paste to go around the side of the cake. Then roll the remainder of the paste out and use to cover the top of the cake. Allow the cake to set for at least two days then prepare the icing by lightly beating the egg whites and incorporating the icing sugar into this to form a stiff paste. Add the lemon juice and glycerine and incorporate well. Then, using a palette knife spread the icing all the way around the sides and top of the cake. Place in a tin and allow to set for at least two days. When ready form a crescent of the candied fruit and anjelica on top of the cake and decorate with the silver balls.
The next recipe is a 'twist' on the classic Christmas pudding that I call the 'Roman Christmas Pudding'. It's a traditional rich Christmas pudding but made with ingredients that the Romans would have had to hand. It also uses the classic Roman combination of fish sauce and pepper in desserts. This has been so successful a recipe that I have to make it for the family every year now!
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