Surely December means Nonconformist Christmas Pud

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At the risk of putting some of you off of me rapidly can I just say that I did leave this post until we were in December, which is more than happens for the actual making of the Christmas pudding which is always made on Stir Up Sunday in November and is the last Sunday before Advent.  I took a quick peek at Wiki and apparently 2/3rds of British children have never stirred a Christmas Pudding so I do exactly as my Mum did (and it’s the same bowl) and we all have to be in the house when then pudding is made.  The children do most of the making and then comes the stirring and wishing part.  Hopefully this is building lovely memories for them but I can probably say that the sheer volume of chocolate orange on Christmas morning is probably what builds the memories over Christmas.  Still, I shall continue.  I wanted to tell you about this as there is still time to make it before Christmas and you just leave it in a cool place until Christmas Day.

I used to always made a traditional Christmas Pudding but a few years ago I came across a Nigella recipe for her Nonconformist Christmas Pudding.  A traditional one was ok, but was too heavy and we rarely wanted it after Christmas lunch and then it was forgotten about.  This one is much lighter and a complete alternative.  It also doesn’t have suet so vegetarian’s will be happy.  A Chef one said it was the best Christmas pudding he had ever eaten and my in-laws tell me that it was lovely cold with cheese on Boxing Day.  So, whatever floats your boat folks. I always chop and change this recipe a bit, normally with the fruit or what type of booze is used so do what you like to suit you.

My food processor broke while I was doing this so most of it was hand chopped – pssst, it’s on my christmas list Mr K…

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Nonconformist Christmas Pud

  • 300g dried figs
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • 225g currants
  • 150ml brandy
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 50g cocoa
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g dark soft brown sugar
  • 3 small eating apples
  • 3 large eggs
  • 142ml pot sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 175g dried blueberries

Butter a 2.5 litre pudding basin.

Chop figs in a processor and put in a pan with cranberries, currants and brandy.  Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Spoon butter on top of fruit and put lid on, leave it to simmer for another 10 minutes and the butter to melt into it.

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Measure breadcrumbs, almonds, cocoa, flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar into a bowl.

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Quarter and core apples and thrown them into the processor (no need to clean it between blends).  Add them to dry ingredients and then add the dried fruit and butter – now your entire house will smell like Christmas.

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Break eggs into a bowl, add sour cream, vanilla and spices – you can do this in the blender again to save on washing up and throw into the bowl with everything else.

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Mix all of this together with a wooden spoon once you have put the coins into the mix (we have one coin per person for our family and each throws their own in), each person must take a turn to mix it and make a wish.

Steam this over a pan of water for about 2 hours – my pan isn’t big enough so I put a lid on and wrap the sides in foil but check the water hasn’t boiled dry and top up when it needs it.

You can then store this, covered, in the fridge until Christmas when I steam this for another couple of hours – but steam it for as long as you like, as long as the water isn’t boiling dry it really doesn’t matter.

Then turn it out onto a large serving plate, douse liberally with more booze, vodka is used in our house, set light to it and present to the table. I always always serve this with Cornish clotted cream and homemade brandy butter – hmmm, I’m sure I said this wasn’t rich!

Sorry, no pic of the finished pudding, it’s happily sitting in the fridge awaiting it’s unveiling!

‘Pimped’ Mary Berry Carrot and Walnut Cake

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Big Miss K, aged 10, decided she absolutely MUST make a carrot cake. This was a great idea, I had a work call to make and Little Miss K needed some entertaining so off she went to retrieve her step so she could get up to the kitchen counter and they were off.

Big Miss K is generally self-sufficient and obviously takes after her parents as she is always wanting to do something or other in the kitchen – and she’s definitely a feeder, she just wants everyone to enjoy the things she makes. And enjoy this cake we all have. I had to try it, but only a small slice – if you are following Slimming World then I can only hope you too are a ‘feeder’ and are able to resist it – if you can’t then all I can do is blame Miss K – but look at her proud face, you wouldn’t blame her, would you!

I actually used a square tin to bake one large cake, then forgot after 40 minutes we had to go out so it got 40 mins, then I turned the oven off and left it in the cooling oven to cook through so not actually sure how long it took. I like to bake in one and slice through afterwards into 2 cakes as it stays really moist and doesn’t have dry edges but will put the Mary Berry way of doing it below.

The ‘pimping’ of a Mary Berry recipe is seen by some as sacrilege, but who am I to stop experimentation of a 10 year old. When the suggestion of caramelised chopped walnuts came up I did insist that I had to make that part and like an idiot when I was pouring it onto the top of the cake a piece dropped off so I just picked it up, ouchie, I now have the blisters on fingers to prove that a woman in her 40’s should also not be left alone in the kitchen with caramel – I’m sure Mary Berry wouldn’t have made this error!

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‘Pimped’ Mary Berry Carrot and Walnut Cake

  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g muscovado sugar
  • 200g carrots, grated
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75 g walnuts, chopped, plus some to decorate

Icing

  • 50g butter, at room temperature
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 250g full-fat cream cheese
  • a few drops of vanilla extract

To top

  • sugar
  • walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan. Grease two deep 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases of the cake tins with baking parchment.

Put the oil, eggs, and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is well combined, lighter, and noticeably thickened. Gently fold the carrot into the cake batter, then stir in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger, and chopped walnuts until evenly blended.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the tins. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown, risen, and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing: Put the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk using a hand or electric whisk until smooth and thoroughly blended.

Spread half the icing on one cake, sit the other cake on top, and spread the remaining icing on top to make a swirl pattern.

For the topping: put sugar in heavy based pan and heat until it has turned to caramel, do not stir, thrown in walnuts then when cooled slightly pour over cake – and if you drop any DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT pick them up.

THE Banana and Nutella Cake

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I might, just might have put a teaser on Twitter a couple of days ago about the delicious Banana and Nutella cake I made for the kids.  Cue frantic hits to my blog and messages of ‘I don’t just want it, I NEED it’.  So, a little earlier than planned I am going to give you this recipe so you can make it for the weekend.  This is great warm, with the Nutella still gooey, or as my kids say ‘we can have it for breakfast, it is one of your five a day as it has banana in it’.  So fill your boots, but note to Slimming World followers, I take no responsibility for the syns, if I can resist it then so can you.

Banana and Nutella Cake – serves the number the knife cuts really – SYNS (not going there)

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup soft, dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Nutella (however much you want, I use about 1/3 jar)

Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Wrap bananas in foil and put in hot oven for about 15 mins (until skin is blackened and bananas are soft)

Mix together flour and bicarb and salt

In separate bowl mash banana, then add oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk

Add this to the flour mixture and whisk until combined

Grease and line a square tin (mine is 8 in sq but use whatever you have)

Pour in 1/3 of the mixture then dot this with spoonfuls of Nutella (you could be a bit chefy and put this in piping bag to spread it evenly, but why when you can have big pockets of gooey chocolate)

Place rest of batter on top and again, dot with Nutella

Bake in oven for around 30 mins (or until cooked in centre)

See how long it lasts…..

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