This is that dangerous time of year when you think you have LOADS of time before Christmas, but it is only 14 days and really, the preparation is over by the Friday before, so we need to have a plan. This week is the week for deciding which cakes you want to bake and organising ingredients.
Next week is festive bake-athon week.
Timetable and recipes: Some of these cakes keep better than others, so do the ones that keep best first. Here are the dates I will be baking, I will post on the day, so you can bake along if you want to.
You will need a roll of baking paper for lining cake tins.The non-stick silicon stuff is awesome, but the bog standard stuff is good too.
Cake tin sizes are given in each Ingredients list.
You will need some flat baking trays and cookie cutters for the gingerbread house.
Gingerbread: will last a month and can even be refreshed by a second baking, so bake that first.
It takes 4 days to make a gingerbread house:
Monday December 17th : Day 1-making the dough.
Tuesday December 18th : Day 2- shaping, baking and cooling and some building.
Wednesday December 19th : Day 3- more building.
Thursday December 20th : Day 4- finishing touches.
It won't take a whole day to do these things, but you need to give time for the icing that holds it all together to set so your house is sturdy, so it is best done in stages. Day Two is the longest day, all the rest are fairly quick tasks.
The original recipe I based this one was all in US 'spoons' and cups, but this useful site converts butter, flour and all sorts of other ingredients for you from US cups to whatever you need, absolutely excellent!
Being ancient, I prefer to use lbs and ounces to cook with and as most of these recipes have been with me for many years, they are in 'old' measures, but these are easily converted.
INGREDIENTS:TO MAKE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE AND BASE AND EXTRA COOKIES
Plain Gingerbread:MAKE 2 quantities of this
13.25 oz plain flour
0.5 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
4 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoons ground Cinnamon
5 oz unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
8oz caster sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 Egg yolks, beaten
13.25oz plain flour
4 teaspoons mixed spice- make up a mix of sweet spices that you like.
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
2.5oz cocoa powder
6oz unsalted butter, chopped
7oz soft brown sugar
To make the Icing for decoration and cementing your house together:
use the 2 egg whites left from the gingerbread plus icing sugar and food colouring if wished.
Roof tiles: I use Cadbury's Jumbo Buttons, 1 bag should do it, but 2 bags is more fun. You could also use smarties, chocolate coins, slices of dried banana,circles cut from ready to roll icing...I just like the chocolate/ginger combo! Or you can cut a piece of ready to roll icing and make the roof snowy, up to you.
Log Pile: Cadbury's mini flakes-the sort you get in a 99 ice cream cone
Planks for the door: Cadbury's chocolate finger biscuits.
I also have a bag of Crunchie 'rocks' that I may use for a bit of hard landscaping this year!
You will need pencil, ruler, scissors and paper for making your house templates. Squared paper is the bees knees for easy template making.
Velvet Cake: Thursday December 20, decorating Friday December 21st
This cake keeps well in a tin- I bake two cakes from the recipe, ice one for Christmas and keep the other in an airtight tin to use for my Birthday the week after.
INGREDIENTS: TO MAKE TWO CAKES 7" diameter
This recipe is metric, just to keep things lively...
Vegetable oil for greasing tine.
350g plain flour
A very generous 1tsp cocoa powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1.5tsp baking powder
350g caster sugar
350g chilled and sliced butter
200ml soured cream
1tsp vailla essence
2 eggs, beaten
A generous tablespoon of Green and Black's drinking chocolate powder.
For icing and filling ONE cake:
You are going to slice the cake into layers and also put a thin coating over the whole cake to stick your white icing to it.
Sweet spices for flavouring- I use cinnamon and cocoa, add to your taste.
150g soft butter
300g icing sugar
One pack of white ready made icing
Lemon Drizzle Cake: Thursday December 20, decorating Sunday December 23.
This cake needs a day or so to really get gooey.
INGREDIENTS for a 9" diameter tin or 2lb loaf tin
4oz softened butter
6oz caster sugar
2 medium eggs
4oz Self Raising Flour
2oz Ground Almonds
Finely grated rinds of 2 lemons
For the syrup:
4-6oz granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
You can decorate this cake with left over icing from the velvet cake- I also like to add some edible glitter and stars
Danish Apple cake improves with some time to mature- but not too much, any cake with fresh fruit needs to be eaten reasonably fast.
INGREDIENTS: to make a cake 10" in diameter
For the cake topping:
4oz chopped walnuts mixed with 2tbsp brown sugar
2 green apples, peeled,cored and cut into thin slices
Ground cinnamon ( to taste)
A generous handful of Mixed dried fruits:soaked overnight the day before you make the cake in tea, rum or calvados
For the cake:
7oz Caster Sugar
2 well beaten eggs
3oz Self Raising Flour
4oz ground Almonds
4 fl oz milk
1tsp vanilla essence
1tbsp boiling water
0.5 tsp baking powder
The Norwegian tower cake- this really should be baked close to Christmas, so I will make it on Sunday December 23rd and stick it all together the following day. Its Norwegian name is KRANSEKAKE and if you want to make it, you will need the special pans for creating all those delicious almondy circles- available here: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15555/Kransekake-Pan
Last year I used the recipe on the side of the box, this year I'm thinking of trying out this recipe, which is simpler:
Czech Honey and Nut cake will also be made on December 23rd- a first for me, so I'll just see how this one goes...the recipe I shall be following for this one is here:
If you also fancy having a go, get the ingredients, read it up and I'll post photos of how mine turns out ...my Husband brought a Czech Honey and Nut cake back with him last time he was there and it was heaven.
So, make a plan, on some days you will be baking one cake and decorating another, give yourself the time to do this in an unhurried way if possible!
Feel free to wear the flounciest, silliest, most festive apron you can lay your hands on, Christmas baking only happens once a year, make it an event.