Posts Tagged ‘plain flour’

Christmas Cake

This is the best Christmas cake recipe! It always turns out well and will keep for months if wrapped in clingfilm and foil. It is moist and dense with fruit, it is not a ‘cakey’ cake, and it stays nice and flat without a peak.I don’t ice it as we prefer it plain, but it looks lovely covered with marzipan and royal icing! Traditionally you should make it months in advance of Christmas, but I have made it as late as 21st December and it has been just as good. I don’t bother to feed it either, I think there’s enough alcohol soaked in with the fruit, but that’s up to individual taste.


  • 1 lb (450 g) currants
  • 6 oz (175 g) sultanas
  • 6 oz (175 g) raisins
  • 2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons brandy, (I use sherry and pour a good glug in rather more than 3 tablespoons!) plus extra for ‘feeding’
  • 8 oz (225 g) plain flour
  • ½ level teaspoon salt
  • ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz (225 g) soft brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz (50 g) almonds, chopped (the skins can be left on) or chopped mixed nuts, walnuts etc.
  • 1 level dessertspoon black treacle
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • grated zest 1 orange
  • 4 oz (110 g) whole blanched almonds (only if you don’t intend to ice the cake)

If you wish you can use any combination of dried fruits so long as the total weight is the same as the recipe. I sometimes use bags of mixed fruit. The ‘luxury’ mixed fruit sometimes includes the glace cherries, in which case you wouldn’t need to include them.

You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). I actually use an 8 inch (20cm) square tin which makes a bigger cake but not quite so deep.Tie a doubled band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.

You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it and preferably a couple of days before.. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy or sherry as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth or plate and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours. I like to leave it for 24-48 hours to get as much flavour absorbed as possible, and to make sure the fruit is nice and plump.Stir it every now and then to make sure the sherry covers everything! Add a little more if it looks as if its all been absorbed and keep stirring now and then.

Next day pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F /140°C / Fan Oven 130C. (Yes, it is the lowest temperature in the oven but it works!)

Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they’re all there.

1.  Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing.

2. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it’s light, pale and fluffy.

3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won’t curdle. If it does, don’t worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can’t fail to taste good!

4. When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in).

6. Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.

7. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don’t intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface.

8. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking). Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don’t look till at least 4 hours have passed.

9. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it’s cold ‘feed’ it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the nicest chocolate chip cookies I’ve found and I’ve tested a lot!!! You can make them the size of normal biscuits or larger if you prefer. I find that the amount of dough that the recipe makes can be divided intwo. Freeze half in a sausage shape for another day, and bake the remaining half for instant gratification! You should get approximately 24 normal-sized biscuits from half the mix.


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 cup soft brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large plus 1 small egg approximately

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts  (optional)

How to Make Them

  1. Beat butter and sugar together until blended and smooth.
  2. Mix in eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts if used.
  5. Lay silicone shets on your baking trays (you’ll need 2 trays or bake in 2 batches). Set oven to 325F /170C / Fan oven 160C / Gas Mark 3
  6. Place dessert spoonfuls evenly on baking sheet. (Scoop up the dough with the dessert spoon and scrape it out onto the sheet with a teaspoon. It will spread out flat as it bakes, so no need to flatten the heaps!
  7. Bake in centre of oven for about 15 minutes (check after 10 mins). They should be just a pale golden brown, not dark.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. They will crisp up as they cool. If you want them chewy you will need to make bigger biscuits and take out of the oven when very pale.

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Hannah’s Chocolate Chip Muffins

‘Yummy, yummy, yummy’,  says Hannah!

It’s best to use proper paper muffin cases for these.


2 cups plain flour

1 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sunflower oil

4 tablespoons melted margarine or butter

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup chocolate chips

How to make them

Preheat oven to 350F/175C/165C Fan Oven/ Gas Mark 3

  1. Stir together flour, sugar, bakng powder, salt, chocolate chips.
  2. Make a well in the centre of mixture. Add beaten eggs, milk, oil, melted margarine, lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. Mix gently with a fork, just enough to blend. Do not stir briskly or attempt to make the mxture creamy and smooth or your muffins will be tough. Just mix enough to ensure that all the mxture is wet. Lumps are OK!
  4. Divide mixture into 12 muffin cases and bake for about 25 minutes in the centre of the oven.

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Cowboy Cookies

These are very easy to make. The recipe makes quite a large quantity, about 40-60 depending on how big you make them! When I make these, I bake 1/3 of the mixture, and freeze 2/3 (divided into 2 packages).. If you don’t want many biscuits at a time, then bake 1/4 and freeze the rest divided  into 3 separate packages. You could just make half the quantity!


2 cups plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup oil (vegetable or sunflower)

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 cups porridge oats

1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

How to make them

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 175 C/ 165 C Fan Oven/ Gas Mark 3

  1. Put margarine, oil, brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  3. Gradually stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until well blended.
  4. Now mix in the porridge oats. The mixture will be fairly stiff by now.
  5. Pull off small balls of dough and roll quickly between hands or scoop a large teaspoonful and scrape off onto baking tray with another spoon.
  6. Place the balls of dough onto the lined baking tray. They will spread out flat as they bake, so don’t place too close together. You can gently flatten then a little with a fork if you like. Do not grease the tray if you haven’t got any lining paper or silicone sheet as there is enough fat in the biscuits already.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the oven until the edges are golden.
  8. Allow to cool a little, then transfer to a cooling rack.

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Easy Carrot Cake

This is very straightforward and easy to make and tastes just as good as the complicated versions. It can be made plain, or pineapple and nuts may be added.


150g plain flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g soft brown sugar

2 eggs

125 ml oil (vegetable or sunflower types, not olive oil)

1/2 zest of one lemon and 1/2 zest of one orange ( or just use one orange OR lemon)

100g carrots, finely grated

75g chopped walnuts if desired

110 g pineapple pieces, drained and finely chopped, if desired

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

60g butter at room temperature

25g icing sugar

125g cream cheese (like Philadelphia)

How to make it

Heat the oven to 150C / 130 C fan oven / Gas Mark 2. Line a cake tin about 20cm across or aBOUT 7″ square.

1. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar.

2. Beat the eggs together with the oil and citrus zest.

3. Stir the carrots into the oil mixture.

4. Stir the carrot and oil mixture into the flour mixture and combine as evenly as possible.

5. Fold in the nuts and pineapple if used.

6. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level out the surface and bake for about 1 hour – 1 hr 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

To make the icing.

1. Beat together butter and icing sugar until soft.

2. Beat in the cream cheese.

3. If you have time chill the mixture in the fridge until it’s thick and spreadable, and then spread a thick layer on top of the cake.  If you are in a hurry you can just spread the icing straight on top of the cake, but it might be a little runny.

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