Christmas cake and mincemeat from the Quirky Bird Kitchen

There is no busier time in the Quirky Bird kitchen than Christmas time. Even though most of our kids have left home they still drift back, which is lovely and gives me the perfect excuse to bake and cook all our old favourites and traditions. As well as over 200 truffles made for gifts, piles of mincemeat pies and christmas cake, there is all the meals and other creations that make our festive season. You can read about my truffle making here Christmas Truffles

Christmas cake ingredients
Christmas cake ingredients

Christmas Cake
1lb (450g) currants                                                            6oz (175g) sultanas    
6oz (175g) raisins                                                              2oz glace cherries, rinsed, dried and chopped
2oz mixed candied peeled                                                 3 tbsp brandy
8oz (225g) plain flour                                                       1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg                                                       1/2 tsp mixed spice
8oz (225g) unsalted butter                                                8oz (225g) soft brown sugar
4 eggs                                                                                2oz (50g) almonds, chopped
1 dessertspoon black treacle                                             grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange    

1. Start this cake the night before so the fruit can soak over night. Put all the fruit and dried peel in a bowl with the brandy, mix it through and cover. Leave overnight or for 12 hours.
2. Grease and double line a 8 inch (20cm) round cake tin and preheat the oven to 275 F (140C). 
3. Sift the flour, salt and spices together into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing.
4. In a seperate mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale fluffy. Now beat the eggs in another bowl and then add them to the butter sugar mix a spoonful at a time, mixing all the time. 
5. Once the egg is added, slowly fold in the flour and spices, folding the mix, not stirring. Lastly, mix in the soaked fruit, peel, chopped nuts, treacle, orange and lemon zest. 
6. Transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Finally cover the cake with a double layer of greaseproof paper with a 50p sized hole in the middle. 
7. Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 to 4.5 hours. Sometimes it can take more or less, depending on your oven, keep a close eye o the cake as it cooks. 
8. Cool the cake in the tin and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. I leave the greaseproof paper on and then wrap it in foil until it's needed for decoration. Up until then feed it everyso often with brandy. 

Fruit ready for soaking
Fruit ready for soaking 

Mixing the cake and making a wish
Mixing the cake and making a wish

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past
Cakes of Christmas past

Mincemeat pies in this house don't last long, they make great snacks whenever anyone is peckish. 

Mincemeat
1 lb (450g) bramley apples, peeled and grated                                    8oz (225g) shredded suet
12oz (350g) raisins                                                                               8oz (225g) sutanas
8oz (225g) currants                                                                              8oz (225g) mixed peel
12oz (350g) soft dark brown sugar                                                      grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons                                                         2oz (50g) sliced almonds
4 tsp mixed spice                                                                                 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
nutmeg, grated                                                                                     6 tbsp brandy

1. Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mixing thoroughly so that it's thoroughly combined. Pack into sterilised, dry, clean jars and store until just before christmas when you are ready to make the pies.

Once you are ready to make the mincemeat pies, this is when you can get creative. I use shortcrust pastry but you can use puff as well. Roll the pastry out and cut out circles slightly bigger than the patty tins you are using. Once the pastry is in, fill up with mincemeat, not too full or it will run out when cooking. You can make smaller cisrcles of pastry for proper pie lids, or cut out stars or other festive shapes for the top. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar before cooking in the oven at gas 6, 400 F, 200C for about 25 mins, but keep an eye on them. Remove from the oven once done and as soon as possible from the tins onto a wire cooling tray.

Frangipan sponge topping (my fav) for 12
2 large eggs                                                                                                              90g caster sugar
90g unsalted butter, melted                                                                                      90g ground almonds
4 tbsp flaked almonds

1. In a bowl beat together the eggs and sugar and then still beating, mix in the melted butter. Stir in the ground almonds and then dollop a spoonful ontop of each mincemeat filled pastry case in the patty pans. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and cook for 15 mins.

Getting the mincemeat ingredients together
Getting the mincemeat ingredients together

Honest all the alcohol goes in the bowl, mincemeat
Honest all the alcohol goes in the bowl

Mixing all the ingredients together




mincemeatmincemeat


mincemeat
Putting the mincemeat pies together

mincemeat
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My favourites are the frangipan sponge pies
My favourites are the frangipan sponge pies

mincemeat pies
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What is your favourite thing to cook and bake at this time of year?

Enjoy your own cooking and baking over christmas and new year and have a lovely time. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy festive season.



Keep Merry and Bake Cookies

Quirky Bird Food Traditions

Food Page


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