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Christmas Cake – no excuses, you can make your own

24 Oct

A really good Christmas cake is within your grasp. This is a really easy recipe that is quite forgiving if you don’t have exactly the right ingredients. If you have to substitute anything, just ensure it weighs the same. First of all you gather all the ingredients and let them seep in alcohol for a week. You make an easy cake mix and combine the two and cook – simple. Do make this as soon as you can, to allow it to mature.

You’ll need a square cake tin about 20cm across and baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

For the soak

500 grams of raisins
200 grams of currants
100 grams of chopped dates
50 grams of dried cherries (not glace) if you can’t find these, use dried cranberries
3 tablespoons of each of the following: brandy, kirsch, whisky, port and water. You can use rum, Cointreau, grand marnier or sherry instead. Or, if use the 12 tablespoons of one alcohol and 3 of water)
1 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence (the pure sort)
1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar (or demerara)

Method

In a saucepan, put all the ingredients and warm through until the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and let it cool.
Scrape all of the ingredients into a box with a lid and put into the fridge. Try to remember to shake the box each day.
A week later, you are ready to make the cake. You’ll notice that the dried fruit has plumped up and smells wonderful!

Cake ingredients

250 grams self-raising flour (or plain plus 2 tsp baking powder)
250 grams soft brown sugar (or Demerara)
250 grams of butter
5 large eggs beaten
50 grams of mixed nuts

Method

Mixing the fruit and cake mixture together

Mixing the fruit and cake mixture together

Before you start making the cake, grease your tin and line it with greaseproof paper or parchment. Turn the over on to Gas mark 3, 170 degrees.

For ease, make the cake in a food processor or use a hand-held whisk.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until well mixed, Add a little flour. Add the eggs little by little until all used up. Spoon in the flour and mixed nuts. Put this mixture into a large mixing bowl with the fruit that’s been soaking and mix well.

The cake mixture in the lined tin

The cake mixture in the lined tin

Carefully spoon the mixture into the tin, making sure that your lining stays stuck to the edges of the tin.

Cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours. PLEASE CHECK REGULARLY. The cooking time seems to vary greatly – particularly if you have a fan oven. Use a skewer to test if it is ready – it should come out clean.

When it is done, leave it in the tin until cold. Turn out and store in silver foil until needed.

Store the cake in foil until needed

Store the cake in foil until needed

Festival Foodies – Food and Drink pt1

16 Aug

Part 1 – Food and Drink

A simply glorious day today, the weather could not have been better. A perfect day to go along to Foodies at the Festival, taking place this year in Holyrood Park.

I must confess to being rather ambivalent about festivals such as Taste of Edinburgh, Foodies at the Festival, what are they actually for? To taste the food, just a pleasant day out, to drink? Certainly today, you could have got absolutely plastered very easily! It actually proved a great opportunity to discover some new suppliers, rediscover some old favourites, get a sampling from restaurants that I’d not yet been to, and to watch cookery demonstrations (more about the last two in Part 2). Continue reading

The Swedish Trilogy, 2: Snaps

22 Jul
Working up an appetite and a thirst

Working up an appetite and a thirst

Midsummer. On the terrace sit 15 people, tired from dancing around the maypole, eating a traditional Swedish buffet (you know it as a smörgåsbord). There’s cheerful talk and much praising of the various dishes. Almost everyone has a glass of beer or cider at their elbow. Suddenly one of the hosts lifts a shot glass and suggests a song. Everyone bursts out in cheerful singing before raising their shot glasses and taking a hearty swig. Swig taken, the glass is lowered and eye contact is made with the other diners. Eating and chatting resumes. Continue reading

Liquid Deliciousness – liqueurs in Edinburgh

26 May

I have a soft spot for Victoria Street in Edinburgh. I love its eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. It’s also the location for one of my favourite places – Demijohn, a liquid deli (right next door to another favourite, I J Mellis). I am biased of course! I first met Angus Ferguson, Demijohn’s owner soon after it opened in 2004. I often took eager Discover the Taste participants along for tastings particularly on Saturday mornings as part of the Farmers’ Market food tour. 

Seville Orange Gin

Seville Orange Gin (for illustration only)

 

If you have the good luck to meet Angus, you’ll find he is one of the most enthusiastic people you’ve ever met – he has such passion for his products. Demijohn is now a great success and has expanded to Glasgow and York. 

Demijohn is a celebration of prime British ingredients – liqueurs, spirits, whiskies and vinegars  – all specially selected from a lady who creates vodkas on her kitchen table to (slightly) larger operations. 

The idea is simple, you choose a glass bottle from all sorts of shapes and sizes and have it  filled with your chosen tipple. Once you’ve finished the bottle it can be refilled with whatever you choose. 

There is always something different to try (and the staff will encourage you to do so). My current favourite is the Seville orange gin – glorious – and the raspberry vodka is to die for.  The fruit types of fruit vinegar are always guaranteed to astonish. 

Oh, and there are single estate olive oils to try too. 

For those of you far from Edinburgh, don’t despair, you can do mail order too! What do you fancy trying

Follow Demijohn on Twitter @demijohnthedeli