Christmas Cake

Traditional Christmas Cake

KITCHEN KIT:
Large Sauce Pan, Pastry Brush, Cake Tin 13cm

Ingredients Makes 12 of 13cm Size Cakes:
1.  1 kg raisins
2.  1 kg currants
3.  1 kg of mixed dried fruits
4.  300 g glace cherries
5.  300 g dried soft figs
6.  1,200 ml armagnac
7.  900 g butter
8.  550 g dark brown sugar
9.  1 lemon zest
10. 1 orange zest
11. 12 eggs
12. 6 tbsp black treacle
13. 3 tsp almond essence
14. 3 tsp vanilla essence

Dry ingredients:
15. 900 g plain flour
16. 500 g ground almonds
17. 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
18. 3 tsp ground cinnamon
19. 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
20. 450 g chopped walnuts

Cake Decoration:
21.  1 ½ kg candied fruits and peeled mix fruit.
22.  1 tbsp apricot jam, 5 tbsp water.

The Cake:

Day 1:
1. Mix all dried fruits and Armagnac on a large sauce pan, bring to boil, remove from heat, cover once cooled with a cling film and leave the mixture to rest in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:
2. Take the marinated fruits in Armagnac out of the fridge and leave for a few minutes at room temperature to make it easier to mix.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together on a bowl and set aside.
4. Preheat oven at 150°C. Grease all the cake tins with butter.
5. On a mixer- thoroughly mix butter, sugar, add lemon and orange zest, followed by the eggs adding them onto the mixture one at a time.
6. Add the black treacle, vanilla and almond extract whilst continuously mixing. Finally add marinated fruits alternately with the dry ingredients, mix ensuring that all the ingredients are incorporated together.
7. Pour the cake mixture on a grease cake tin. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.Before taking the cake out of the oven insert a knife or a cake tester at the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean without cream mixture stuck to it, then your cake is baked and ready.
8. Brush the baked cake with Armagnac all over. Wrap in foil and keep on an air tight container for 2-3 weeks for the flavour to infuse.

2 or 3 weeks later:
9. The Apricot Glaze: On a small sauce pan apricot jam and water to a boil. Once it starts to boil remove from heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
10. Decorate the top of the cake with the candied fruits and peeled fruit mix (as per the picture below). Brush the candied fruits and peeled fruit mix with the apricot glaze (as per the picture below). Leave to cool and set for a few minutes. Wrap in foil and keep on an air tight container. Done.

Christmas CakeChristmas Cake

Quiche Lorraine Part 1:

Quiche Lorraine

I first had a Quiche Lorraine when I was at a primary school in Macau, my Mom took me to Lord’s Stows cafe in Macau where I discovered Quiche Lorraine. I love it since but only learnt to bake it when I moved to England.

20 different recipes, 20 failed attempts in creating the prefect light quiche, one came out of the oven looking more like a dome and when cooled collapsed on a baking tin, I still remember my relatives when they saw my dome like quiche, not quite French nor it is English, it’s just an eggy dome like, bloated thingy, they ate the 20th quiche I’ve baked as they laughed their heads off. After 20 failed attempts, I finally got there in the end. Thank goodness my family no longer have to endure another dome like bloated quiche.

Tips: Lessons from a bloated dome like quiche:
Baked the pastry forgetting to add the baking paper and baking beans meant that my pastry came out of the oven dome like.
Baked the pastry with the baking beans but forgotten to line the pastry with a baking paper meant when the pastry cooked all the baked beans were stuck on the pastry.
Baked the pastry and mixture at the same time for a longer cooking period than required- the quiche came out bloated and dome like. Lessons learnt; pastry must be baked first lined with baking paper and with baked beans to make sure the pastry doesn’t rise up, mixture then needs to be added and baked again, bake for no longer than 40 minutes.

KITCHEN KIT
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought short crust pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “ Savoury Shortcrust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 2 tbsp olive oil
3. 1 medium onion
4. 175g diced bacon rashers
5. 450g crème fraîche
6. 4 eggs
7. Pinch of ground black pepper
8. 15g grated Gruyère or Mature Cheddar cheese
9. Pinch of Nutmeg or parsley

The pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Roll out pastry into a greased tin. Line it with baking paper so that the baking beans don’t get stuck onto the pastry.
3. Fill the lined pastry with the baking beans- ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and dry. Remove the baking beans and baking paper, set the cooked pastry aside.

Quiche Lorraine-Bake Blind

The filling:
While the pastry is baking, prepare the fillings as follow:
1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add diced bacon. Once cooked remove bacon and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add diced onion until soft and translucent. Remove onion and set aside.
3. Whisk 4 eggs and crème fraîche on a bowl, add cooked onions and 10g of grated gruyere cheese, season with pepper and nutmeg or parsley (if using), and add some of the cooked bacon onto the mixture. Leave some of the cooked bacon aside for later.

4. Pour the mixture into the pastry, bake in the oven for 20 minutes, (optional-take the quiche out and add the remaining bacon and cook the quiche for another 20 minutes or until the filling has firmed up.) If you do not want to sprinkle the remaining bacon, just cook the quiche throughout for 40 minutes or until the filing has firmed up.

Quiche Lorraine

5. This bit is optional- Take the quiche out, sprinkle remaining 5g of grated gruyere cheese on top, put the quiche back in the oven on grill for 2 minutes.

Extra Tip: use a cake tester or a knife insert onto the quiche, if it comes out clean without cream mixture stuck to it, then your quiche is ready. I like to make mine look golden on the top, so I usually add a bit of grated Gruyère cheese on top just before the quiche finished cooking it adds a nice golden brown colour on the quiche. Yum!!

Quiche Lorraine

 

Les Madeleines à la crème au citron

Madeleines

These are traditional soft small cakes from Commercy and Liverdun in the Lorraine region of northeastern France. My love for Madeleines started when I first visited Paris. The Madeleines I had in Paris were sweet and simple. The recipe below is slightly sweeter, contains raspberry, lemon curd and lemon glaze. For me, Madeleines are best eaten warm, fresh from the oven.

KITCHEN KIT
Madeleine Mould 40cm x 20cm

Ingredients Serves 5:

The Madeleines:
1. 3 eggs at room temperature
2. 133g sugar
3. 200g plain flour
4. 1 tsp of baking powder
5. 1 lemon, grated zest only
6. 40g runny honey
7. 40g double cream
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. 200g melted and cooled unsalted butter
10. Raspberries
11. Icing sugar for dusting

The Lemon glaze (optional):
1. 1 large size lemon- juice and zest
2. 150g icing sugar

The Lemon Curd:
1. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
2. A pinch of salt
3. 50g sugar
4. 50g melted unsalted butter
5. 4 egg yolks

Preparation method:

The Madeleines:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a Madeleine mould.
2. Beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until pale.
3. On a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
4. Mix the honey and cream with the melted butter. Add the Beaten eggs and sugar onto this mixture. Then slowly add the flour and lemon zest mixture. Leave the Madeleine mixture to rest for 1-2 hours or overnight if possible.
5. Put a heaped tbsp of Madeleine mixture into each Madeleine shell and press a raspberry deep into the Madeleine mixture, raspberry holes needs to be facing upwards towards you so you can pipe a lemon curd inside the hole once the Madeleines are baked.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes.

Lemon glaze (optional):
1. Mix all the ingredients together, once the Madeleines are cool to handle, brush the shell indentations side with the glaze. Leave the glaze to set for a few seconds.

The Lemon Curd:
1. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
2. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
3. Put the lemon curd into a piping bag, piped the curd on baked madeleines raspberry holes. Lightly dust with icing sugar.

Serve Warm.

Madeleines