Stir it up!
On Sunday 22nd November households up and down the country will be taking part in Stir-up Sunday; the last Sunday before advent when traditionally Christmas pudding and cake will be stirred up ready for Christmas. I think this is such a lovely tradition, and one that has existed since Victorian times. Christmas cake and pudding actually benefit from being made in advance, thanks to the heaps of dried fruit in them. I can’t quite imagine wanting to eat a standard sponge chocolate 6 weeks after it has been made -can you?
Since I’ll be away in Sussex catering for a Stretching the City retreat this weekend I thought I’d do the next best thing and share with you my recipe from last year, a recipe that first appeared in my Everything But the Turkey Christmas ebook. A collection of 12 recipes for Christmas – including everything but the Turkey! The ebook is still available and now at a reduced price of £1.99. If you’re looking for starters, sides, puddings or sweet treats, the book has everything you need.
This was the first time I tackled a gluten free christmas cake, and tried it out on may folk last year; an afternoon tea for a local fitness group, a christmas stall at a local market, and finally on my family at Christmas.
I couldn’t just invent a recipe out of thin air so turned to Delia Smith; the domestic goddess my Mum always looked to for guidance. I used her faithful Christmas cake that I think is the same one my Mum and subsequently my sister have been making for years. I adore the flavours of rich almonds, so it seemed fitting to include amaretto in the recipe instead of Delia’s suggestion of brandy.
Other adaptations included replacing flour with a blend of buckwheat flour, ground almonds and a touch of tapioca flour, subbing soft brown sugar for coconut sugar (or any unrefined brown sugar), black treacle for molasses and I kept Delia’s idea for blanched almonds as delightful simple decoration instead of a overly sugary marzipan and white icing finish.
This gave an incredibly rich and moist cake – a little really does go a long way.
Here are some other Christmas cake recipe ideas from the healthy, to the gluten free to the traditional – there’s something for everyone!
- Another amaretto cake, but gluten & dairy free from The Free From Fairy
- A grain & gluten free cake, using only ground almonds as the flour from The Healthy Chef
- A gluten free recipe using apples, medjool dates and only a little granulated sugar to sweeten from Jamie Oliver
- A very traditional cake with royal icing from Supper in the Suburbs
- And the goddess herself a classic recipe from Delia Smith!
What will you be stirring up this Sunday?
- 450g currants
- 175g sultanas
- 175g raisins
- 50g dried cranberries
- 50g dried apricot, diced
- 100mls amaretto
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g buckwheat flour
- 25g tapioca flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground mixed spice
- 175g coconut palm sugar / rapadura or other unrefined sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbs molasses, warmed
- 225g unsalted butter
- 50g chopped almonds
- Zest of 1 lemon, 1 orange
- To top the cake: 50g whole blanched almonds
- You’ll need a greased and lined (base and sides) 20cm deep cake tin
- Place the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour over the amaretto. Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight to plump up.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 140°C.
- Sift the flours, spices and salt together – be sure to break up any almond clumps – then add the sugar, eggs, warmed molasses, and butter. Beat with an electric whisk until smooth.
- Fold in the soaked dried fruit, chopped nuts and add the grated lemon and orange zest.
- Transfer the mixture into the lined tin and spread the top smooth with a spoon or spatula. Finally, decorate the top of the cake with the blanched almonds.
- Place a square of parchment with a 50p size hole in the idle over the cake and bake in the lowest part of the oven for 4 hours. The cake will be done when it feels springy to touch.
- Cool in the tin for 30 minutes then remove and place on a rack to cool fully.
*My ebook Everything but the Turkey is available HERE and is priced at £1.996