What’s better than the gifts you find under the Christmas tree on 25 December? The heavenly delights waiting on the dinner table, that’s what! There’s no better way to celebrate this day than with scrumptious meals that take away all the worry, and with these recipes, that is guaranteed.
One of my family favorites is a Christmas cake. We usually get one that has been aged for months, but the fresh one tastes amazing too. The kitchen starts smelling like a winter wooden loft while making this, so it is a great kickstart for the holiday spirit.
For fruit mixture —
¾ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup mixed dried fruits
2/3 cup glazed cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
1 large orange (zest and juice)
1 lemon zest
For cake mix —
3 large eggs
½ cup ground almonds, or almond meal
1 and 2/3 cups plain, or all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground allspice
To feed —
½ cup cherry brandy, or ½ cup sugar and lemon water
Over medium heat, start by adding butter to a large pot. Add brown sugar to the melted butter, and once it has dissolved, add the mixed dried fruits, glazed cherries, dried cranberries. Pour the orange juice into the fruit mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the fruits do not stick to the pot.
Before taking the pot off the heat, add the orange and the lemon zest. Let it cool for a bit before adding the cake mix.
Before making the cake mix, preheat the oven to 150° C. Take a 20-centimetre cake tin and line it with parchment paper, lightly brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.
Once the oven and the cake tin are ready, add the eggs to the fruit mixture, use a wooden spoon to mix it in. In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients — ground almonds, plain flour, baking powder, mixed spice and ground allspice. Mix the dry ingredients well so that it can be mixed in evenly. Mix all the ingredients till the mixture looks like cake batter and pour into the tin. Tap the tin on the kitchen counter so that there are no air bubbles in the batter.
Bake for 45 minutes at 150° C and then reduce the temperature to 140° C and bake for another hour to an hour and a half till the top is dark golden brown. If you see the top burning, cover the top of cake tin with a foil. Check with a toothpick to see if the cake has cooked through. Take the cake out and wait till it has cooled.
Poke holes with a fork and feed with a tablespoon of the cherry brandy or sugar and lemon water. Store in an air-tight container and feed everyday till the day the cake is going to be iced, or have marzipan added to decorate.
Note: If the feed is not a form of alcohol, try not to store for more than a week.
This is a spiced version of the traditional eggnog. It’s smooth and silky, and makes a great desert.
1 tbsp ginger powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
¼ tbsp ground clove
1½ tbsp ground nutmeg
3 cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, or beans from a vanilla bean pod
1½ cup heavy cream
In a large pot, pour the milk over medium heat. While the milk is warming up, whisk the egg yolks with a cup of granulated sugar, little by little till the consistency is close to a meringue.
Turn the heat off so that the milk is not boiling hot, just a little steamy. Use one ladle at a time to slowly pour it into the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Make sure to use a whisk to keep whisking so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. After 2-3 ladles of milk have been added to the yolk and sugar mixture, add the mixture to the milk on the stove.
Keep cooking on low heat for 10 minutes, keep stirring so that the mixture does not curdle. Do not let it boil or come to a simmer. Add the vanilla extract and gingerbread spice mix. When the liquid thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. Use a fine mesh sieve to make sure the eggnog is smooth and creamy and place on top of an ice bath. Once cooled, add the heavy cream and serve with a dash of cinnamon or even a gingerbread cookie.