Tag Archives: Christmas recipe

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Back in September we visited Keswick in the Lake District for the weekend. We had a very lovely time and as we headed home, we ambled through the Lake District, stopping off at a few places. One of those places was the popular village of Grasmere, famous for its delicious Grasmere gingerbread.

Grasmere gingerbread is very special. It is firmer than any other kind of gingerbread I’ve ever had and it’s full of ginger and spice. It’s got mixed peel running through it and a crumbly topping like nothing I’ve ever eaten. It is one of my favourite things in the world.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

The original recipe is very closely guarded secret, but I’ve been baking my own version at home for a few years now. It’s not quite as firm or as crumbly as the proper Grasmere gingerbread, but it’s a good almost Grasmere gingerbread and it fills the gaps between visits to Grasmere to stock up on this treat.

Grasmere style Gingerbread

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
2 eggs
50g mixed peel, chopped
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 170°. Mix the flour, caster sugar, ginger and salt in a bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small pan, once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Take your eggs and separate the yolks, beat the yolks and slowly add them to the cooled syrup and butter. Whisk well. Tip this into the dry mix and combine. Set aside the whites of the eggs for later.

Take your mixed peel and chop it up into tiny pieces. Stir this through the mixture.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, spread the mixture in the pan making sure it’s even all over. Brush the top of the gingerbread with some of the egg whites and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top, use as much or as little as you like. I used about 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over. As it is cooling, with a sharp knife cut it into rectangles in the tin and leave to cool. Once fully cool you should be able to cut the biscuits easily across these lines with a knife.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

Proper Grasmere gingerbread is then portioned up and wrapped in greaseproof paper. This would be a lovely way to wrap up your gingerbread, especially if you’re going to give it as a gift, perhaps at Christmas.

These are lovely gingerbread biscuits, but they’re not quite as lovely as the originals. If you’re ever visiting Grasmere in the Lake District, I urge you to visit the tiny gingerbread shop by the church. Just follow your nose and you’ll soon find it!

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky rounds.

Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Three fast Christmas recipes with Sage

Last year my best friend Bob shared his recipe for Mincemeat Vol au Vents and this really simple recipe was a bit of a hit. This year he’s been experimenting with herbs (no, not like that) and he’s come up with some interesting and fast Christmas recipes with sage. I’ll leave you in his capable hands…

We all like to serve up a festive crowd-pleaser at Christmas, from mulled wine to the increasingly infamous mincemeat vol au vent, but there’s a tendency for Christmas recipes to be dominated by sweet and spicy ingredients.

These three fast Christmas recipes will take one of the favourite festive flavours – sage – and take it out of stuffing and into a selection of other Christmassy creations that are equally satisfying.

You can make these quick Christmas creations using freshly chopped sage if you have it to hand, but dried sage from a jar will still give the effect – just leave it a little longer for the dried sage to soften and release its flavour before you use the finished sauce or dressing.

Sage Slaw

This one is incredibly quick and easy, and a great alternative to leftover stuffing for cold sandwiches – it even works well heaped on to sandwiches or burgers with hot fillings, for a contrast of temperatures when you take a bite.

All you need is a tub of normal coleslaw, and a good quantity of chopped fresh or dried sage, and combine the two. Give it a good stir to get the sage evenly mixed into the coleslaw, and leave it for the flavour to come out. You can adjust the amount of sage depending on personal taste, but the more you use, the more of an impact it makes, and the more of a fresh, herby aftertaste you get when you’ve finished your snack. A good starting point is to use enough sage so that it is visible in the mix, but not enough that your coleslaw is noticeably turning green.

Dried sage in particular shouldn’t affect the shelf life of your coleslaw, so this is one you can make in advance and have ready for those Christmas snacks, and sage slaw works great on everything from ham and pork to chicken and the inevitable leftover turkey.

Sageonnaise

Using the same principle, but just using mayonnaise instead of coleslaw, combine finely chopped sage into mayo for a hint of that distinctive stuffing flavour.

Again you can use this as a dressing for sandwiches if you don’t want the texture effect of coleslaw, but it’s also a great addition to festive buffet tables or late-night snacks.

Put out a small dish of sage mayo and a big bowl of roast potatoes and other veg – even if it’s all just leftovers from dinner – and you and your guests will be dipping into the sageonnaise all night long.

Squeaky Sage

Last but not least of my fast Christmas recipes, throw a handful of sage into your bubble and squeak just before serving, again to give it that iconic stuffing flavour in amongst all the chopped and mashed vegetables.

Fresh sage should go in right at the last minute as you don’t really want to cook the herbs, but dried sage can probably go in a little earlier as including it in the last few minutes of cooking will help to soften it and bring out more of the flavour.

Serve your bubble and squeak as a side on Christmas meals, or for breakfast with buttered bread and plenty of brown sauce, where the sage will help it to hold its own as a festive breakfast treat.

Sage in Everything!

These three fast Christmas recipes were born out of a simple question: Where can I use more sage at Christmas?

It’s one of the truly iconic flavours of the holidays, and of Sunday roasts all year round, and I wanted to get more of that taste into my daily diet.

The lingering fresh herb flavour of a sage-infused sandwich or snack was an unexpected bonus that proved to be very palate-cleansing, and the enjoyment factor is through the roof.

Like last year’s mincemeat vol au vents recipe, this is the kind of idea you can serve up to guests and have them asking, Why didn’t I think of that?

Three fast Christmas recipes with Sage

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Vol au Vents

It’s not often I have a guest post to share with you, but when my best friend Bobble Bardsley tweeted a picture of his Mincemeat Vol au Vents I knew it was a stroke of genius that needed to be shared. I dislike pastry so I struggle with mince pies, but the idea of a Mincemeat Vol au Vent is fantastic, all the traditional mince pie taste but with considerably less of the claggy pastry. I am definitely going to try these out! Over to you Bob….

These delicious morsels were an accident – we ran out of fillings for our vol au vents one Christmas (in the 2010s, not the 1980s!) so the mincemeat came out of the cupboard and we filled the last few pastry cases with that.

It was a revelation. If you find homemade mince pies a bit too chewy, or your pastry always goes ‘caramelised’ (AKA burnt) these are a great alternative, and can be made from scratch within about 15 minutes.

Mincemeat Vol au Vents

If you find homemade mince pies a bit too chewy, or your pastry always gets burnt these are a great alternative, and can be made from scratch within about 15 minutes.

Ingredients
Frozen vol au vent cases
Milk/egg wash
Mincemeat
Icing sugar (for decoration)

Instructions
Remove the vol au vent cases from their packaging, wash with milk or egg so they go golden brown when baked, and arrange on a baking tray with a small gap between them.
B
ake according to the packaging instructions – I used Jus-Rol vol au vents, and the instructions were 220C for about 13-15 minutes.

With a few minutes spare, remove the vol au vents from the oven. They should already be golden, and very nearly cooked.

Push down their ‘hats’ to create a hollow, and add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each one. A dozen vol au vents will take anywhere around 150-200g depending on how much you fill them.

Return to the hot oven for a few minutes until the suet has melted and the mincemeat has ‘relaxed’ into the bottom of its pastry nest.

Remove and allow to cool – at this stage I used a flour sifter to dust with icing sugar, but if you don’t have a sweet tooth, the mincemeat and pastry alone are delicious together.

Notes
I prefer to glaze with milk rather than egg – be generous, so your pastry is quite ‘wet’ when it goes into the oven.
Have a palette knife or sharp-edged silicone spatula ready to prise the pastry cases off of the baking tray once they’re done, or use non-stick baking parchment if you have any.
Be quite frugal with the mincemeat. They might not look very full, but you’ll be glad of that when you take a bite, and the flaky vol au vent pastry starts to collapse – it’s much easier to just shove the whole thing in at once and then reach for another.

By Bob Bardsley

Don’t let ANYONE tell you vol au vents are old-fashioned. They’ll soon change their tune once they taste one of these – I’m telling you, mincemeat vol au vents are the future!

Mincemeat Vol au Vents

My top five best bakes (for Christmas)

I was chatting about baking to a mum in the playground yesterday, we discovered a shared love of fairly unusual continental recipes, the kind Paul and Mary would give to Bake Off contestants to try and baffle them into submission. It got me thinking about some of my favourite things I’ve baked and blogged, so I thought I’d choose my top five best bakes and give them another airing.

I promise you they’re all easy, I lack the patience, time and skill to do anything too fancy and time consuming; but they’re all delicious. 

Lebkuchen Cake 

Traditionally a moreish soft biscuit, I decided to attempt a German Lebkuchen Cake with considerable success. The recipe is easier than it looks to make and the results are truly scrumptious!

Lebkuchen Cake

Joulutorttu

Traditionally Joulutorttu are made with puff pastry and a special Finnish prune jam. However I made mine with a Christmas preserve, but it does need a good firm set jam. Try plum or prune conserve for authenticity. They look a bit tricky to make, but it’s ready-roll puff pastry and jam and  a bit of arty twisting of the pastry.

Joulutorttu

Birnenpfannkuchen

Birnenpfannkuchen is a German Pear & Ginger Pancake. This is a brilliant store cupboard standby, and a real family favourite when you need a quick pud. It’s a bit like a fruity toad in the hole, only better!

Birnenpfannkuchen

Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

I originally created this shortbread recipe in 2013 in celebration of the Great British Bake Off and it’s still popular today. Cinnamon and raisin are a great combination and this lovely crumbly shortbread is a great bake.

shortbread

Microwave Jam Sponge Pudding

I’ve always hated the thought of “baking” in the microwave, but I’ve cracked it with this delicious sponge pudding. From mixing bowl to table in under ten minutes – perfect for busy families.

jam sponge

So that’s my little round up of my five best bakes. What would you have in your top five?

Christmas Recipe: Lebkuchen Cake

When Duerr’s asked me to try their new Chunky Ginger Preserve, my first thought was lebkuchen. I’ve never made them before but I thought it might be nice to try. If you like ginger, you’ll like the Duerr’s Chunky Ginger Preserve, it is sweet and spicy, full of chunks of fiery ginger, and great for cooking with, especially for my Lebkuchen cake.

One of my favourite things to eat around Christmastime is lebkuchen. Lebkuchen are a German cakey-biscuit, usually a soft spiced gingerbread covered in icing or chocolate, sometimes filled with jam, sometimes not. I find them irresistibly moreish and any bags which find their way into our house have to be kept from me and a small ration allocated daily. 

You can find the recipe  for my Lebkuchen Cake below, don’t be put off by the large-ish list of ingredients, it is literally stick them in a bowl and give them a good stir. It is probably the best cake I’ve ever made and a great alternative to the traditional Christmas cake if you don’t like all that fruit!

Lebkuchen Cake

Recipe: Lebkuchen Cake

Serves 10
A delicious cake version of the traditional German Christmas treat – easier than it looks to make and truly scrumptious!

Ingredients
125g of butter, softened
150g sugar
1 egg yolk
3 eggs
200g of runny honey
3 heaped tablespoons of sour cream
300g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
5 teaspoons of ground ginger
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of Duerr’s Chunky Ginger Preserve
For the chocolate glaze
150 g dark chocolate
180 ml double cream

Instructions
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until well combined. One at a time add the following ingredients and mix – one egg yolk, honey and sour cream.

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients – self-raising flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, pinch of salt and ginger together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently mix.
Mix the eggs and add to the cake mixture and stir.

Pour the cake mix into a lined cake tin. I used a large loaf tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºc. for about 50 minutes until it is cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, preferably overnight.

When cool cut the cake in two lengthways and spread the Duerr’s Chunky Ginger Preserve on the bottom layer, then sandwich back together.

To make the chocolate glaze, put the double cream in a saucepan and bring it to the boil and remove from the heat. Add the crushed chocolate and stir until dissolved, keep stirring until it has cooled a little, but is still liquid.

Pour the hot chocolate glaze on the top and sides of the Lebkuchen cake and leave it for a few hours to cool and set.

Notes
Five teaspoons of ground ginger does sound like a lot, but once it is cooked the fiery ginger tones down a little.
This does make a large cake, so you could split it into two cake tins and make two smaller cakes if you’d like.
If you don’t like dark chocolate you could use milk chocolate instead.

To taste test the lebkuchen cake properly we bought some proper lebkuchen from the Christmas Markets and I’m pleased that the two were comparable. Despite the long list of ingredients it was so easy to make and I will be making it again, probably several times before Christmas for various occasions.

lebkuchen cake

With my Christmas recipe repertoire now including Finnish Joulutorttu and German Lebkuchen cake, we are in for a truly continental Christmas – and it’s all the better for it!

Christmas Recipe: Lebkuchen Cake