Stir away! Stir up Sunday is here! That can only mean one thing, dear Reader…..the jingly bells of Christmas are only a few weeks away now. Panic stations at Margot HQ! In our house there is so much to get through before Christmas can be ushered in through our countryside door – Poppy’s 2nd birthday, Primrose’s first Nativity play, endless parties and suppers for Jerry and I and of course, the daily grind of the working world. With so little time to prepare for 25th December, I thought that I might just have to squeeze in a wee few moments to bake something festive. As veteran Christmas pudding haters, the girls and I turned out hands to stirring up a slightly lighter version of Christmas cake for deliciously Christmassy afternoon teas. This recipe has been adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe by Emma Lewis which can be found and printed out here.
Margot’s Christmas Ginger Cake
500g mixed fruit 100g glace cherries, cut ian halves or quarters
200ml ginger wine
200g butter (this must be soft)
200g dark brown sugar
4 eggs 200g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp treacle
* If you have some time, do soak the fruit (apart from the glace cherries) in the 200ml of ginger wine the night before. If not, then soak for at least 4 hours until the fruit has plumped up a little and taken on some of the ginger wine.
* Preheat your oven to 160C or gas mark 3. This cake is made using a 20cm tin with a loose-bottom. To prevent the cake from browning too fast and to allow it to cook evenly, measure the bottom of your tin on some greaseproof paper or baking parchment and cut out 2 circles – one for the top of your cake and one for the bottom. For the sides, cut a thick strip that will fit the inside. Now grease the tin – when I open a pack of butter, I always save the butter paper as it is perfect for using to grease a tin. Once greased, place one circle on the bottom, then fit the thick stripe around the sides of the tin.
* Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each one to be incorporated into the mixture before adding the next. Tip the mixture out into a big bowl then mix in the flour, ground almonds, mixed spice and ginger. Stir in the fruit, adding the leftover ginger wine along with the treacle and glace cherries. Stir until all is evenly mixed. Make sure you make a wish at this point – now would be a good time to wish for something sparkly!
* Add the mixture to the cake tin. Make sure you smooth the top. Bake for 30mins at 160C or gas mark 3 then turn down the oven to 150C or gas mark 2 to bake the cook for a further 2 hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Skewer the top of the cake and dribble 1 tbsp of ginger wine over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin before peeling off the paper. Wrap in baking parchment with a top layer of foil.
* Over the next four days (or when you remember), continue to drizzle 1 tablespoon of ginger wine each day for an intense ginger flavour and a moist Christmas cake. Lots of lovely warming ginger in this one and much lighter than your ordinary Christmas cake – it can be decorated with royal icing to give it that snowy look. Just remember to glaze with a little watered down ginger jam (2tbsp of jam to 1 tbsp of boiling water) before adding the icing to help it stick. Perfect for serving with an afternoon cuppa in front of a Christmas log fire!