Family Recipes

At this time year we would normally be preparing to open our home to guests from far and wide.  Planning our shopping, preparing special meals, paired with our favourite London Born wines, listening to holiday classics and singing along.  Christmas 2020 will be a smaller, family only bubble however, I still believe much of the Christmas magic takes place in the kitchen with traditional recipes we enjoyed when we were young.  The smells and tastes of holiday favourites bring the memories of Christmas’s past flooding back. This Sunday at the winery, we are carrying on another tradition decorating gingerbread houses and listening to Christmas music. We hope you will join us at 1pm for this safe, social distanced holiday event. In the meantime, if you are considering trying some new classic British holiday recipes, enjoy the selection included in our blog!

Christmas Cake

  • 275 g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2.5 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 5 ml mixed spice
  • 15 ml cocoa powder
  • 400 g mixed dried fruit
  • 350 g sultanas
  • 225 g currants
  • 225 g glace cherries, chopped
  • 100 g blanched almonds chopped
  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 225 g dark soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 15 ml black treacle
  • 45 ml brandy or rum
  • A little milk, if necessary

Royal Icing

  • If a soft, not brittle, icing is preferred, add 10 ml (2 tsp) glycerine
  • 2 egg whites
  • 450 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 10 ml glycerine

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice and cocoa. Add the dried fruit, sultanas, currents, glace cherries and nuts and stir to mix. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy, beat in the eggs a little at a time. Fold in half of the flour and the fruit mixture, then fold in the remainder. Stir in lemon rind and juice, black treacle and brandy or rum. Stir the mixture until well-mixed, adding a little mild if it seems too dry.

Pour the mixture into a greased deep 20cm/8in or 22.5/9in round or square cake tin double lined with grease proof paper. Make a slight indentation in the centre of the mixture. Bake in a cool oven (150C/300F or gas mark 2) for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to very cool. (140C/275C or gas mark 1) for 1 hour, then continue baking for a further 3 to 3 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the tope of the cake becomes too brown during the cooking, cover with grease proof paper or foil.

When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out and carefully peeling off the grease-proof paper.

Marzipan Layer

2 packages of marzipan Roll with a rolling pin to fit the cake. When the cake is cool firmly add a layer of marzipan to the outside around the edges and the top before adding the layer of icing.

Royal Icing

Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until light frothy. Beat in the icing sugar gradually until all is incorporate and the icing is stiff enough to stand in peaks. Beat well to remove any lumps. Beat in the lemon juice and glycerine if using. Use immediately, or cover the bowl with a damp cloth or polythene.

To rough ice, put the prepared icing on top of the cake placed on a cake board. Work with a palette knife over the top of the cake, using a to-and-fro motion. Gradually work the icing down the sides of the cake until entirely covered. Using the tip of the palette knife, quickly rough up the surface of the icing with short, sharp movements. This will create a traditional snow-scene effect that can be decorated with ornaments, etc.

To flat ice, put three-quarters of the prepared icing on top of the cake (covering remaining icing as above) placed on a cake board. Work with a steel ruler or palette knife over the top of the cake using a to-and-fro motion. Continue this motion, smoothing out the icing and breaking any air bubbles that appear on the surface.

When quite smooth, draw the ruler or palette knife in one movement across the top of the cake, making the surface completely smooth. Scrape off any icing from the sides, return to the mixing bowl and keep covered. Leave the cake until the icing on the top is set before icing the sides with the reserved icing in the same way – smoothing round the cake with the steel ruler or palette knife and making the joins as smooth as possible.

Wright, Jeni. The St Michael ALL Colour Cookery Book: London, Hennerwood Publications Limited, 1983. Print.

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Bubble n’ Squeak

This is late breakfast on Boxing day as everyone is still nursing a hangover.

In a large frying pan over the stove cook up some bacon as you normally would (proper British bacon). Take out the bacon and leave all the bacon fat in. Take Christmas dinner leftover mashed potatoes (if you had roasted potatoes cut them up) carrots, parsnips, brussels sprouts, stuffing (basically all your side dishes no meats or cranberry sauce) My sister and I have spent many hours debating on whether or not gravy goes in but since this is my blog, no gravy! Make sure all the vegetables are chopped up and cook over a medium heat until it heats up. Make sure you eat it with doorstep bread and lots of butter.

Siegerrebe Jelly

  • 5 cups of prepared juice
  • 1 box of CERTO pectin Crystals
  • 7 cups of granulated sugar

Stem and crush 4 lbs (1.8 kg) grapes one layer at a time; creating a mess in the kitchen that any 5 year-old would be proud of. Place in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; as it reaches the top; panic slightly as it might go over the top making a sticky mess all over the stove; reduce the heat and then cover. Simmer 10 min. Extract juice.

Place prepared fruit in jelly bag try not to drip it on the floor, but you know it will; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press bag gently to remove any remaining juices. Get slightly annoyed about how easy it sounds to do, and realize that is more difficult than it sounds. Then just twist and mash the bag as best you can. You can always strain it a second time if some of the seeds fall in (as they inevitably will)

After juice is extracted mix prepared juice and CERTO pectin crystals in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil. Panic slightly. Stir in sugar. Return to a boil; cook 1 min.

To test if the liquid will set. You may drip it on ice to see if it will congeal if this does not work and you have a cold metal surface such as a table you can drip it on there too. After it has congealed taste it, just in case. At this point you should probably lick the spoon you did the test with, just to make sure and put the spoon to be washed.

Remove from heat.

Pour into warm sterilized jars, filling up to ¼ inch from its rims and dripping all over the counter tops. Cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. When the jelly does not set keep waiting in anticipation. After a week empty all the jars into a pot and repeat the process (do not add more sugar but add some lemon juice this time and it should congeal) If it does not congeal give up and use it as topping for vanilla ice-cream.

Sherry Trifle

Find a glass bowl as this dish is layered, as it looks quite pretty when done nicely.

Make a layer of sponge cake – light coloured – yellowish not dark. Add a tin of Del Monte fruit (the fruit salad the kind that only has one cherry.) Make sure you sure you save the cherry for the top, the rest gently place fruit on top of the sponge cake and spread around in the bowl (don’t pour the juice in as you are going to use it to make the Jello). Make sure you sample a couple pieces of fruit just in-case. Get some proper British Jelly in cubes (not the powder that you get here), but since you can not get the British Jelly here you will have to use the powdered stuff. Make up the Jello using the using the juice from the tinned fruit and a shot of sherry or what every alcohol you have lying around. Pour the liquid over the cake and fruit layers. Put it in the fridge to let the Jello set making sure you cover it with something so that nothing accidently drops into it. Traditionally people use the custard as the next layer but since I don’t like custard we just leave that out and just fill it with whipping cream and sprinkles on top and don’t forget the cherry that you saved.