If you are not partial to a traditional Christmas cake then you can whip these cakes up in 5 minutes. Useful to have in the back of your mind when half a dozen people descent without warning and there is no cake in the house….. or when the Christmas cake is just a pile of crumbs on the cake board.
The cake in the picture is one-such. You don’t need to turn your cake(s) into a 5 tier wedding cake, but each layer is quick and easy.
Clementine and lemon cake
This one is an adaptation of Nigella’s classic. Which must be drawn from much older North African and Spanish recipes for Polenta cake. It is even easier if you have some of the fruit already puree’d and in the freezer (which is a great way to use up those Satsuma and Clementine that are lurking in the fruit bowl and just past their best0.
Put 6 clementine/satsuma and one lemon (halved) in a pan with boiling water and boil them for about 10 minutes. (Nigella says an hour but quite frankly, its unnecessary). Remove from the pan and place in the food processor when cool. Then whizz till liquidated. Then add 250g ground almonds, one teaspoon of baking powder, 200g golden caster sugar and six eggs into the food processor and whizz till they are all combined. Pour into a lined 20cm springform cake tin and cook at 180C for about 50 minutes. Test the centre with a skewer. Cover the top with greaseproof if it looks as if its getting too dark round the edges. Remove from the oven. Cool. Then spoon over some orange and lemon syrup made whilst the cake is cooking. Serve just warm with creme fraiche.
Black forest cake
In the food processor, process 200g soft butter with 200g caster sugar, 25g good quality cocoa powder, 4 eggs and 200g plain flour with 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder till it is a soft dropping consistency. Spoon it into two lined sponge tins and cook at 180C for about 25 minutes. Test with a skewer. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins. Use one cake and freeze the other. Drench the cake with kirsch (about 2 tbs), then just before serving cover with cream and drained (tinned) black cherries. and a grating of chocolate on top. Dare you not to love it!
Sticky date and apple cake
This is simplicity itself, from one of my favourite cook books The New Sugar and Spice by Samantha Seneviratne. Makes frequent appearances at our table, and this one is for Dean.
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm springform cake tin. Put 100g chopped dates (you can buy them ready chopped in Holland and Barrett) in a saucepan with about 100ml water and bring slowly to the boil to soften them, then take off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, mix and then put somewhere to cool.
Beat 125g soft butter with 125g soft brown sugar for about 3 minutes (in the mixer) then beat in 2 eggs and 6 flat tablespoons of minced fresh ginger. Then add 250g plain flour and 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and beat until combines. Now stir in the dates and fold in 2 chopped tart apples. The mixture should have the consistency of a firm batter. If it doesn’t then add a little milk.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 25 minutes.
You can now either eat it as a cake or serve as a pudding. If pudding, then melt 100g brown sugar with 40z butter, a little salt and when melted, add 100ml double cream. Put the cake on a wide plate or dish, poke some holes in the cake and pour over half the liquid, let it soak in then pour on the rest. Voila!
Mincemeat tart(s) with marzipan
Sounds sweet, right? It is! This is my little invention as the traditional mince pie leaves me a bit cold. So you can either make this as individual mince pies or as one big pie.
Take one pack of frozen shortcrust pastry. Easy so far then! Take one or two jars of mincemeat, depending on how big your pie, and grate in some orange zest. Line either the little tartlet tins with pastry (I use muffin tins because I like more mincemeat than pastry) or a pie or sponge tin. Fill with mincemeat. Instead of pastry topping (who wants more pastry?) roll out some marzipan to about 1.5cm thick and cut out shapes (stars, santas, reindeers – anything really) and place, dotted about, on top of the big pie, or one in the centre of each individual mince pie.
Bake in the oven till cooked and the marzipan starts to melt.
OK. Now I have to go to the butcher to get the Christmas meat. Happy cooking. Hope you agree these are easy to make and where the standard ingredients will already be in your cupboard.