Monday, 14 November 2011

Where is my Christmas Spirit?

Not easy to make a Christmas Cake on crutches but then I figure that it is a wee bit early, I would rather take it to the limit of the allowed panic time before starting the annual fraught search for recipes and ingredients! Now off crutches and gamely leaping across the kitchen again, we decided to make the cake last night. We found nearly all the ingredients and swapped a few here and there, no dried sour cherries, so natural glacĂ© will do! but alas, at the vital moment: Where is my Christmas Spirit? Nor brandy or Cognac, not even Calvados or Whiskey. Dismay all round; but then Aha! lurking at the back of the cupboard is the very last dribble of  Romanian Peach something... So, we chucked that in and we will see! In fact that should go nicely with the chocolate.....Chocolate you say, in Christmas Cake, Yuck! Actually the cake not only looks perfect but it tastes far less sweet and cloying due to the organic cocoa powder and 70%dark chocolate. Even better it was the easiest fruit cake that I have ever made! So a big thank you to Lara Savill who has a brilliant blog on baking for this recipe idea which I have now adapted.
 Chocolate Fruitcake (gluten-free/dairy-free or traditional wheat/spelt flour)
200g Pure Sunflower spread or butter of course
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g 70%dark continental (DF) chocolate, broken into pieces
80ml good brandy, Cognac or Calvados
A good dash or two of pure vanilla extract
250g raisins
250g sultanas
100g  each dried cranberries, natural colour glacĂ© cherries and mixed        peel   
200g Doves Farm gluten free self raising flour mix or a spelt flour or wheat flour
100g ground almonds
3 tablespoons organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
3 large free-range eggs, beaten with a fork in a jug
Preheat the oven to 150C/fan130C/gas2
Use a deep rubber cake mould for ease about 20-21cm round or prepare a cake tin in the normal way.

Put the fat,sugar,chocolate,brandy, vanilla and all the dried fruits in a large pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until all melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Mix the flour, almonds, cocoa and spice together in  big bowl. Stir the eggs into the melted chocolate mixture and then scrape it with a spatula into the flour mixture. Fold ingredients until mixed and then scrape into the mould or tin. Bake for 1 1/2 hrs.(An inserted skewer should come out clean when cooked).
The next day stab it all over the top with a skewer and drown it in the chosen alcohol.Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container until needed or time to ice it. Remember to feed it with some Christmas Spirit again a few weeks before Christmas.
A few weeks ago I met Janet Woodward of Wellfoods at the Hereford Coeliac Society fayre. The Wellfoods stand looked tempting with piles of breads, rolls, pizzas and our own brand of gluten-free flour. I hobbled around on my crutches, chatting to the other stall holders and tasting their products. There were 4 stunning products: Muddy Boots: Caramelized Onion and Mozzarella Aberdeen Angus Beef Burgers which melted in the mouth and were truly scrumptious in the Antoinette Savill(Wellfoods) burger bun, I shall be ordering some of those today. They are also available in Waitrose.
Cake Angels: Julia's cup cakes, brownies and other goodies where delicious beyond belief and she has an amazing website which is located on my website. You can order Christmas cupcakes with astonishing decorations as a gift box but the brownies are heaven... So which to  choose?
Christine's Christmas Puddings:Gorgeous tiny puds for gluten-free guests or family in about 3 flavours.They are made in Dorset with a variety of different flavours. See my website
Farabella: This has to be the best Italian gluten-free pasta around. Shapes and sizes never before seen in UK, they cook perfectly and tastes great. Again check my website.
I have dusted off last year's mincemeat and am now on a quest to find some interesting recipes other than mince pies for the festive season. I shall report back. Next blog will have delicious mini BACON and CHEESE STRAWS for festive drinks and show-off MINCEMEAT AND CINNAMON PALMIERS also ideal for parties.