Almond and Raspberry Cake

Long live The Crimbo Limbo…
Almond and Raspberry Cake - The Cardiff Cwtch

The Crimbo Limbo, Twixtmas… whatever you call it, the gap between Christmas and New Year’s a bit of a weird one, isn’t it? I used to hate it as a kid; even though there’s still the New Year celebrations to come, Christmas is officially over. All the presents around the tree are gone, the family and friends who’ve come to stay are gone too and there’s about half the Sainsbury’s Cheese Counter and a Turkey carcass shoved into the fridge. It always felt a little sad to me as a kid, but now? I LOVE IT. Fridge full of cheese? Um, yes please. Enough leftovers to save me cooking for a week? Banging. A Bond film on the TV every night? Don’t mind if I do. Cake for breakfast? Why the hell not.

It’s the one time of year where adulting officially goes out the window and – even better – nobody’s going to think any less of you for it or worry that you’ve gone a bit mad. Brilliant! I was tempted to just whack my coat on over my Christmas PJs to take Bungle for his walk this morning, but changed my mind at the last minute. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, I guess, and for me that line falls somewhere between the neighbours seeing me in my jammies and scoffing cake for breakfast. Specifically, this Almond and Raspberry Cake – which I whipped up last minute on Christmas Eve and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a total winner. It’s pretty enough to decorate a festive table, moist enough to last through the limbo, and slightly sour enough to be a fresh change when you’ve dipped into the tub of chocolates a few too many times. Eat it warm with fresh cream or cold for breakfast, that’s totally up to you – I won’t tell! 😉

Christmas Golden Retriever - Raspberry and Almond Cake - The Cardiff Cwtch

Almond and Raspberry Cake

Ingredients
  • 250g Raspberries
  • 125g Butter
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100ml Milk
  • 25g Flaked Almonds
Method
  1. Set your oven to 170° and grease a 20cm open bottom cake tin.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  2. In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Stir in the egg.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together most of the dry ingredients; that’s the flour, ground almonds and salt.  Combine with the wet ingredients to make a very dry batter (don’t worry, it’ll come together during the next step!).
  4. Stir in the milk.
  5. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth over the surface.  Arrange the raspberries (hole down) on top, staring in the middle and working your way out to the edge.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, scatter with flaked almonds and powdered sugar and then serve up with cream. 🙂

Hope you’re having a lovely Crimbo Limbo/Twixtmas!

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day

Fast and filling recipes to get you through ’til Turkey Time!

dsc_0088.jpg

Christmas morning’s a bit of a pickle breakfast-wise innit?  I mean, even if you find the time to squeeze it in and shovel down a couple of slices of toast in between unwrapping stockings and opening presents – there’s a whole turkey, trimmings and puddings (as well as a whole tub of Roses…) to save some stomach real estate for later.  I can count plenty of Christmases where I’ve either skipped breakfast or made do with the satsuma rolling around at the bottom of my stocking… or indulged in an orange of the Terry’s variety in front of a film (oops!).  It’s so unlike me, because I love breakfast! It’s my favourite meal of the day – every day! – and – of all the days in the year – Christmas is big one to skip, especially if you’re hosting; you need the fuel!

The trick, I’ve found – and this is true of most things – is to do the grunt work the day before.  That way, breakfast is sorted and you can relax knowing you can go and get it whenever you want.  Recipes that can be prepared ahead of time with minimal fuss and then popped in the fridge or covered with cling film are a winner (and pretty useful to have tucked up your sleeve for whenever the occasion calls for a short cut). Minimal effort, maximum impact. 😉

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Parfait Pots and Porridge Pots

Parfait and Porridge Pots

If you’re looking for individual breakfast helpings that you can whip up the night before that saves guests scrambling around in cupboards and jamming up your sink with dirty plates – then you can’t go wrong with Parfait Pots and Porridge Pots.  Grab yourself some jam jars and then layer them up with fresh yoghurt, sliced or tinned fruit, nuts, honey and granola to make an easy, fridge-friendly parfait pot.  Porridge pots are just as easy – just fill your jam jars with porridge oats and water – as well as whatever toppings, flavours and fillings you fancy – and then leave them to soak and puff up overnight in the fridge. The next morning, all you’ll need to do is stir in a little milk and let the microwave do its magic! 🙂

Recommended Recipes:

Cherry & Almond Parfait Pots
Perfect Porridge

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Breakfast Burritos and Wraps

Breakfast Burritos and Wraps

I am a BIG fan of the breakfast burrito in all forms and all its glory.  Not only can they be made months in advance, wrapped and then stored in the freezer, but they’re filling and can be stuffed with any number of ingredients – meat or vegetable – and whatever you’ve got bashing around in your fridge and cupboards.  They’re perfect for Christmas morning because – joy to the world – NO DIRTY DISHES.  Fish one out of the freezer or fridge and then either warm it up in the microwave (remove the foil first!) or in the oven. Simples!

Recommended Recipes:

“I Haven’t Got Time for Breakfast” Breakfast Burritos 
“On The Go” Huevos Rancheros Wraps

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pancakes and Dutch Babies

Pancakes and Dutch Babies

If you’ve got a little bit of extra time in between unwrapping presents and getting dressed, then you can’t go wrong with a good stack of pancakes, or some crispy, fluffy dutch babies – ripe to be filled or topped with whatever you fancy.  Whip up the batter the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight (pancake batter is always better if it’s been left overnight) and voila, breakfast sorted! You can even go festive with your fillings and toppings – you can’t beat apple and cinnamon, or why not try using some mince pie filling and brandy cream? Yum!

Recommended Recipes:

Pancake Party
Banana and Custard-filled Pancakes 
Easy Dutch Baby

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - French Toast

French Toast

Just like pancakes, good French Toast can easily be made up the night before and then left in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it.  And there are so many different and fun ways to make it (Have you ever tried making it using Croissants?) and flavours to try – from fillings to toppings (Have you ever battered it with Frosties? SO WRONG, SO RIGHT).

Recommended Recipes:

“Extra” French Toast 
French Toast Four Ways (including battered French Toast)

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Battered French Toast5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas for Christmas Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Filled Halloumi Loaf

Filled Breads

If you just don’t have the time or the desire to faff around in the kitchen on Christmas morning and are quite happy with a slice of toast – then why not try making a filled loaf a couple of days before?  Not only will it sort you out for breakfast on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but you’ll also have a great twist on those all important Turkey Leftover Sandwiches! Savoury or Sweet is totally up to you. 🙂

Recommended Recipes:

Halloumi Bread (great with fig jam!)
Indian Potato and Cauliflower Fried Flatbreads (Aloo Parantha)
Sunny’s Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread 
Bara Brith

Nadolig Llawen (Merry Christmas!) pawb! Have a good one! 🎄

 

Saffron and Cinnamon Knots

So good they’re knot just for Christmas…

I finally got around to “Decking the Halls” over the weekend although – I’m not going to lie – I could have happily gone another couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas; I love buying presents, I love wrapping presents and I’ll scream along to Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas” when it comes on the radio just like everyone else (although, when it comes to Christmas tunes, I’m all about Mele Kalikimaka)… But the decorations? Ugh, they bust my baubles. I get excited to dig the boxes out of the garage, sure, and I love putting the tree up and seeing all the new tree decorations Sunny and I have collected over the past year from our adventures away (this year we added a Puffin and a Manatee)… but then I get annoyed that there’s suddenly more clutter to contend with and to clean (needles, grrrrr), and I’m definitely one of those people who can’t wait to sweep it all away and box it up come January. I just can’t wait to reclaim my space, y’know?

God, what a Grinch!

But, Christmas Food? Oh, that is one tradition I’m happy to clutter my kitchen with, my friend. And if there’s one thing I do like about Christmas Decorations is that they do get me in the Christmas Food Mood. It took us a good couple of hours to get the decorations up on Saturday (which was two hours too long, in my opinion) – but on Sunday, I spent at least double that time happily baking away in the kitchen and whipping up these Saffron and Cinnamon Knots. They’re kind of a mix between traditional Swedish Kanelbullar and the St Lucia Saffron Buns that are traditionally eaten on the 13th of December (this Friday!). An enriched, sweet dough in a lovely shade of gold, with a sweet cinnamon filling twisted through the middle. So delicious, so moreish and perfect for scoffing in front of the tree. 🙂

Saffron and Cinnamon Knots

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 420g strong white flour
  • 25g dried active yeast
  • 0.25g saffron (half a tube)
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g soft butter

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 90g soft butter
  • 50g caster sugar

Topping:

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • flaked almonds
Method
  1. First things first, wake up your yeast. Gently heat the milk until it’s lukewarm, then stir in the yeast until it dissolves. The milk should turn a slightly off shade of beige and you might see some bubbles form. Next stir in the threads of saffron, watching the milk change from beige to gold.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, and then pour in your yeast mix. Gradually sift in the flour, until you’re left with a slightly wet dough.
  3. Lightly grease your hands, then turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. I don’t like to add flour (it can change the consistency of the dough) so it’ll be a sticky couple of minutes of kneading, but stick with it (ha ha) and soon the dough will come together. After about 10 minutes of tough kneading your should have a soft, elastic dough.
  4. Pop the dough in a lightly greased bowl, then leave it somewhere warm for about 45 minutes. While you’re waiting, mix together the filling.
  5. After 45 minutes, the dough should have doubled in size. Knock it back and then roll it out into a rectangle roughly 1cm thick. Spread the filling, and then fold both long sides into the middle – one on top of the other. Gently roll the dough back into a rectangle shape, and then – using a pizza cutter – slice it in half, and then into long strips.
  6. To make the knot shape, twist each strip into a spiral, wrap it once around your fingers and then pull one end through. Place each knot onto a lined baking tray and leave to rise a little for 20 minutes. Wash each one with the beaten egg.
  7. Crank your oven up to 250°C and bake the knots for 8 minutes. Once they’re cooked, transfer them onto a wire rack, glaze them with the sugar gaze (caster sugar and hot water) and sprinkle with flaked almonds. 🙂

Have a lovely week!

Christmas Jaffa Cake… Cake

DSC_0008.JPG

Bye bye November!  Hello December – which means Christmas isn’t just around the corner anymore; it’s literally on the block.  Maybe you’re ready for it, or maybe you’d prefer to just shut the curtains and pretend you’re not at home.  I might not be anywhere near ready (I say I’m going to be more organised every year and every year I fail), but I’m definitely ready for the food. Am I ever not ready for food? 😉

I haven’t baked a cake in a while and seeing as it’s the first of December tomorrow I fancied making something a little bit festive.  So, I decided to make a giant Jaffa Cake.  It’s a plain sponge threaded with orange jelly (which makes the cake really moist) and decorated with candied oranges and chocolate.  Yum!

DSC_0019

Jaffa Cake Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Pack of Orange-flavoured jelly
  • 100g Chocolate
  • 25g Hazelnuts

For the candied Oranges:

  • 2 Oranges cut into slices
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  1. Grease a 20cm cake tin and set your oven to 180°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar.  Stir in the eggs, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean).  Put to the side and allow to cool.
  4. While the cake’s cooling, get started on making your candied orange slices.  First, cut your oranges into slices that are about half a centimetre thick.  Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.  Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices.  Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
  5. Next, use a skewer to poke holes in the cake (make sure you leave a gap in the centre and try not to poke all the way through to the base otherwise you’ll get a soggy bottom!).  Mix up your orange jelly as per the instructions on the pack and then slowly pour the mixture over the cake, concentrating on the holes you made.  Pop the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours for the jelly to set.
  6. Decorate the surface of the cake with the candied oranges, melted chocolate and hazelnuts (add a little orange zest if you want a little more zing!). 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Chocolate and Praline Dipped Madeleines

I’ve made (and scoffed) Madeleines more than a few times.  They’re so easy to make and are the perfect kind of tea cake to stick out on a plate whenever you’ve got someone coming over for elevenses (they’re made to be dunked!).  Traditionally they’re flavoured with lemon, but since it’s Christmas I thought I’d do something a little more fancy pants.  These ones are dunked in melted chocolate and then sprinkled with praline and a little bit of edible glitter (if you can’t use glitter at Christmas, then when can you?).  I’d never made praline before and to be honest it took two attempts; I made the mistake of stirring the sugar as it was heating and it crystallized in the saucepan and looked like snow.  Oops!  How many times have I rolled my eyes as Bake Off contestants make exactly the same mistake?!  Typical!  I got it the second time round though and had more than enough left over.  It’ll be jazzing up my porridge over Christmas I think!  😉

Chocolate and Praline Dunked Madeleines

Ingredients

  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self raising flour
  • A splash of milk
  • 100g butter melted (and a little extra to grease the tin)
  • 100g chocolate (I used milk, but I bet dark chocolate would be even better!)
  • 100g chopped hazelnuts
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50ml water
  1. Preheat the oven to 200° and grease the madeleine tin with a little butter.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and the caster sugar in a bowl until combined and frothy.
  3. Pour in the melted butter (be careful if it’s still hot – if you pour it in too quickly you’ll get scrambled eggs!), and then stir in the flour.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tray – about a desert spoonful for each madeleine mould should do the trick.  Leave them to rest for about 10 minutes before you whack them in the oven.
  5. Bake for around 10 minutes until the madeleines have risen and cooked through.  Leave the madeleines to cool while you work on the toppings.
  6. To make the praline, scatter the chopped hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden.  In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water together on a low heat until it caramelizes (don’t stir!).  Pour the caramel over the roasted hazelnuts and leave to cool.  Once it’s cooled, smash it with a rolling pin.
  7. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, then dunk the tips of the madeleines. Once they’re all coated in melted chocolate, dunk them into the praline to coat the melted chocolate tip. Leave to set, then scoff! 🙂

Have a great week everyone!  Hope the final run up to Christmas hasn’t got you too stressed! X