Christmas Cooking With Your Kids
There is something about Christmas cakes.
Is it because they’re only made once a year? Or because they’re big and rich in fruit and spices?
They’re simple to make yet many people go without or buy a shop-made one. Some people are deterred by the cost of the ingredients or the effort involved or the size of the finished cake: big enough to last till Easter for someone living alone!
So what better for your child to give his granddad for Christmas than his own mini Christmas cake? Or for your daughter to present to her teacher as a Christmas thank-you?
You’ll need to plan ahead when you’re making these cakes. It’s best to leave the cakes to mature for a month before you start marzipaning, but it’s not necessary if you’ve run out of time. But the marzipan does need time to dry out on the cake before you add the icing: a week at best but a day or two at least.
Even before you make the cakes, start collecting tins. Small baked bean or spaghetti hoops tins are ideal. You’ll need 5 for the quantity in this recipe. Then when you’re ready, get your kids and the ingredients all together and off you go.
Mini Christmas CakesWhat you need:
- 5 oz plain flour
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 1 orange
- 4 oz butter, softened
- 4 oz dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 oz raisins
- 4 oz sultanas
- 4 oz dried apricots, chopped
- 1 oz glace cherries
- 1 oz chopped almonds or hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons brandy
Preheat the oven to 100oC, gas mark 2. Double line all the tins with greaseproof paper, which should come up above the rim of the tin. (If your tins had ring-pull tops, you’ll need to cut out the bottom, using a tin-opener, and let the bottom piece fall through the tin to create a false bottom at the other end.)
Sieve the flour, spices and salt together. Grate the rind of the orange and squeeze out the juice.
Beat the sugar, butter and orange rind together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time beating well after each addition. Fold in the sifted flour. Stir in the fruit, nuts and brandy.
Divide the mixture between the 5 tins. Level the tops and bake for about 2 hours until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Start checking after 1¼ hours as these are small cakes and ovens can vary. If they’re looking too brown on the top but they’re not fully cooked, cover with foil.
When cooked, leave to cool completely on a wire rack. If you’re not marzipaning them the same day, wrap in greaseproof and foil to store.
- 5 oz marzipan
- Apricot jam
- Icing sugar
Sprinkle icing sugar over a work-surface and roll out the marzipan. Using the baked bean tin (very carefully if the bottom has been cut out as it may be sharp) cut out 5 circles. You’ll need to re-roll the scrapings to make 5. Press one down on to each cake.
Wrap greaseproof and foil around the cake but leave the top uncovered so the marzipan can dry. Leave for a week.
- 6 oz rolled icing
- The white of an egg
- Icing sugar
Use the remaining icing to decorate. Colour some green and cut out holly leaves (you can buy mini-cutters); colour some red and roll into berries. Use the egg white to stick them on.
Wrap some red or green ribbon around the cakes and tie with a big Christmas bow.