As an early Christmas present to The People’s Kitchen supporters, our celebrity ambassador, Hairy Biker Si King, presents to you his last minute Christmas recipes, something special to throw together on Boxing day for your turkey sandwiches!
Last-minute Christmas cake
Traditionally, a Christmas cake has to be made weeks ahead of the big day to allow time to mature, but our latest version can be made at the last minute – phew! You will need a deep 20cm round tin or a 18cm square tin.
100g pre-soaked apricots
100g dried pineapple
100g candied peel
200g glacé cherries, halved
100g cashew nuts, chopped
zest of 1 lime, 1 lemon and ½ orange
200ml white port or rum
225g golden caster sugar
175g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
juice of ½ orange
1 tbsp rosewater
600g fondant icing
3 tbsp apricot jam
3 or 4 rosemary sprigs
2 egg whites
Chop the apricots, pineapple and candied peel. Put them in a large bowl with the rest of the fruit and add the cashew nuts and citrus zest. Pour over the white port or rum, then leave to stand overnight, or at least for a few hours. When you are ready to make the cake, line a deep 20cm round tin or a 18cm square tin with baking paper. Tie a double layer of baking paper around the outside of the tin, making sure it is at least 10cm higher than the top of the tin. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 31/2.
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until very pale, aerated and fluffy Put the flour, ground almonds and spices in a separate bowl together with a pinch of salt, and mix lightly to get rid of any lumps.
Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar, and sprinkle over a tablespoon of the dry ingredients. Mix in, then repeat with the remaining eggs, adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture after each one. Add the rest of the flour and stir it in thoroughly. Add the reserved soaked fruit and the rosewater, then mix thoroughly. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over with a palette knife.
Bake the cake in the oven for 1 hour, then turn the temperature down to 150°C/ Fan130°C Fan/Gas 2, then bake for a further 2 hours. To check the cake is done, insert a skewer into the centre – it should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then put it on a cooling rack.
When the cake is completely cool, you can start to decorate it. Roll out the marzipan to about 1cm thick and place it over the cake. Brush the marzipan with a little water and then cover with the fondant icing.
Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C/Gas 1/2 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the orange into 2mm slices and pat away any excess moisture with kitchen paper. Put the slices on the baking tray and sprinkle them with a little icing sugar. Put the tray in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 100°C/Fan 90°C/Gas 1/4 and cook for another 20 minutes, until the slices have dried out and started to brown.
Leave them to cool, then brush with apricot jam and dust with more icing sugar. For the rosemary sprigs, whisk the egg whites in a bowl. Dip the sprigs into the bowl, then shake off any excess. Dust the sprigs with icing sugar.
Last minute Christmas chutney
This is a brilliant, fruity accompaniment to cold meats and just the thing to liven up cold cuts or a buffet table. We’ve found it works really well with cheese too, so we like to serve some on the cheeseboard at the end of a meal. And, you’re more than likely to have lots of the ingredients in stock if you’ve been doing a bit of Christmas baking. If you don’t have any of the dried fruit that we’ve suggested, simply swap them for something you do have. Sultanas and dried pears work well in place of the raisins and figs, for instance. This can even be made on the day it is going to be served, as it doesn’t need maturing like traditional chutney.
MAKES ABOUT 3 JARS
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 medium red onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger or stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
200g dried no-soak apricots, quartered
150g soft dried figs, quartered
150g demerara sugar
150g white wine vinegar
¼ whole nutmeg, finely grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the onions over a low heat for about 10 minutes until very soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2–3 minutes more, then increase the heat slightly and fry for a further 4–5 minutes until the onions begin to brown, stirring constantly.
Tip the apricots, figs and raisins into the pan and cook with the onions for 2–3 minutes until the fruit begins to swell. Sprinkle over the sugar, add the vinegar, spices, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir well, bring to a gentle simmer over a low to medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, especially towards the end of the cooking time when the chutney is more likely to stick.
The chutney is ready when the liquid has reduced to just 4–5 tablespoons and the fruit looks plump and glossy. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the chutney to cool. The fruit will continue absorbing the liquid as it cools, so you just need to give it a quick stir before putting it into serving dishes or carefully sterilised jars. Use greaseproof circles to cover the tops if the jars have metal lids or the vinegar will rot the lids.
If you’re giving the chutney as presents, top the jars with pretty fabric covers and tie with ribbons. This chutney needs to be kept in the fridge and used within a month so it’s a good idea to add that info to your labels.