Stir up Sunday


Stir up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent and is the traditional day to make Christmas cakes or puddings so they have time to mature and the fruit can absorb the brandy (or rum, if you prefer).

Over the years, I have varied the fruits I include in my cake but the basic recipe is still the old one my mother gave me many years ago. I chop the dried apricots, prunes, dates, figs, candied peel, cherries and stem ginger and leave them to soak in brandy with the raisins, currants and sultanas for at least 24 hours before adding to the cake mix. I also add freshly chopped nuts, grated nutmeg and ground spices to the flour.

After baking, the cake is wrapped and stored in a tin until just before Christmas. I usually feed it a couple of times with a little more brandy which also helps to keep it moist.

As well as the cake for our family, I can make additional cakes to order if you do not have the time. These can be round or square, in a variety of sizes from 4″ square to 12″ square, from 6″ round to 12″ round. Please contact me if you would like to order one. Prices start from £10 plus delivery.

 

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Try before you buy

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On Wednesday 16 November, I will have a stall at the Nizels Golf and Country Club ‘Christmas Beauty Evening’, near Hildenborough in Kent.

I am planning to take along a selection of preserves, biscuits, cakes and savoury nibbles which can be given as Christmas gifts and many will be available for tasting on the night. I will also be taking orders if you would rather wait until nearer Christmas to receive your foods.

I am also hoping to sell my foods at other locations in the run up to Christmas so watch this space for further information.

Email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com or call me on 07787 963896 if you want to place an order or find out more.

 

 

Preparations starting early

I have made our Christmas puddings for a number of years. I have tried a few different recipes but prefer this one as it is less sweet, having no additional sugar. It contains raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel, cherries and flaked almonds. Vegetable suet and breadcrumbs are mixed in, along with eggs, brandy, Guinness and spices and the puddings are steamed for hours. I will now mature them in a cool dark place until Christmas Day.

We only eat one pudding each year but they last so well that I make and store one for the following year. This year I have made 4 additional small puddings which are available to buy. They each weigh 600g and come in a reusable pot. They will need to be steamed for another 1 ½ – 2 hours and then you can enjoy it with your favourite accompaniment whether it is brandy butter, rum sauce or custard! Each pudding will provide 8-10 servings and costs £10.00.

If you would like to buy one, please email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com.

 

 

Christmas preparations – cakes and panforte

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I am still taking orders for Christmas cakes and Panforte. All cakes and Panforte are baked to order so if you would like one, please contact me as soon as possible.

The Christmas cakes are made with butter, dark muscovado sugar, organic eggs and flour and a variety of dried fruits that have been soaked in brandy for at least 24 hours, as well as nuts and treacle. The spices used are cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and mixed spices. The cakes will last well into the New Year and in fact I used this recipe for our wedding cake and we used a layer at the christening of our daughter 5 years after the cake was baked – it was however, re-iced!

The Panforte are made with honey, soft brown sugar, dried figs and apricots, candied peel, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, ground almonds, flour, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg.

Both can be made in a variety of sizes but these are the main ones offered :

£8.00 Panforte 800g

£10.00 Panforte 1200g

£15.00 Christmas cake 6″ round or 5″ square

£20.00 Christmas cake 9″ round or 8″ square

£30.00 Christmas cake 11″ round or 10″ square

Cakes can be covered with marzipan and icing for an additional cost – please contact me to discuss details on 01892 523912 or 07787 963896

A busy week- and a busy weekend

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Last Saturday, I went to Frant Primary School to sell preserves and Christmas food gifts at their Christmas Fair. It was my first opportunity to sell to the general public so I was interested to see how it went. I had 2 chutneys, a jam and a marmalade open to taste as well as samples of Panforte and Christmas cake. It was good to get such positive feedback and I was delighted to sell several jars and cakes.

Then on Sunday, I delivered an order to http://www.southdownscellars.co.uk for their hampers – oatcakes, almonds, biscotti, Panforte, chutneys, mincemeat and compôte. I hope the food will be enjoyed with the excellent wines.

There is still time to order a Christmas cake or a Panforte to enjoy at Christmas and I still have some jars of mincemeat if you want to make your own mince pies. Please email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com with your requirements.

 

 

 

Cranberry and orange compote

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This compote has a rich flavour but is not sweet. It is the perfect match for roast turkey at Christmas and goes equally well with gammon or other cold meats. It is made with fresh cranberries and oranges, spiced with cinnamon and cloves and fortified by the addition of port. It keeps well in the fridge after opening.

Rich fruit cake

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This traditional rich fruit cake has been my favourite for many years. It is packed with a mixture of dried fruits which have been soaked in brandy. This helps the fruit stay moist and the cake will last for ages. I made three of these cakes for my wedding 25 years ago. One layer was eaten at the time, one was kept for the christening of our first child and the top layer is still safely stored away. Every Christmas, I make this cake for our family. It will last until Easter if stored carefully. I normally cover it in marzipan and a lemon butter icing which help stop the cake from drying out.

Apricot and brandy mincemeat

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I have been making my own mincemeat for more than 30 years. It tastes so much better than most of the shop-bought ones and is definitely worth the effort. The fruit becomes glossy and almost jewel like with the addition of the brandy and lime juice. I use it in mince pies and also add a couple of tablespoons to an apple crumble for an interesting twist. It also tastes excellent when used to stuff baked apples – just remember to score the apple to stop it exploding!

It contains dried apricots as well as raisins, sultanas and currants and I use vegetable suet which makes it ok for vegetarians but unfortunately not for those on a gluten-free diet. I can make it gluten-free but that would be using beef suet so not vegetarian. It lasts well (at least 9 months) if kept in the fridge once opened.