Get baking now for a frugal but fun Christmas

Those baking experts at Baking Mad have once again put together a list of top tips for home baking treats over the Christmas season. There is no better time of year that to be both creative and save money by baking some homemade goodies to give as gift. This is a brilliant way of creating heartfelt and personalised gifts and show the recipients how much you care.

Whether it be mini mince pies, individual Christmas puddings or homemade jams, why not try a few different recipes as well and create a delicious and tantalising homemade Christmas hamper. Don’t fret if you think your baking is too amateurish to pull this off, that’s exactly what the experts at BakingMad.com are there for.

BakingMad.com is the place to go for recipes that include inspirational Christmas cupcakes and many other top tips and snippets of advice from the home baking experts. Great results every time are assured thanks to all Baking Mad’s recipes using only the finest baking ingredients available, so for some inspiration this Christmas visit  http://www.bakingmad.com/ideas/christmas-gift-hampers

The classic Christmas cake is beautifully decorated with Mich Turner’s superior quality Ready to Roll White Icing.

Mich Turner, founder of London’s Little Venice Cake Company, is the queen of couture cakes. Her Ready to Roll Madagascan vanilla icing is made using the finest ingredients, making it ideal for those special baking occasions when you require a perfect finish.

Ingredients:

1.25 kg Mixed Dried Fruit
100 ml rum or brandy, plus extra for feeding
1 Orange zest and juice
1 Lemon zest and juice
125 grams    Billington’s Natural Glace Cherries
275 grams    Allinson Nature Friendly Plain White Flour
2 tsp    ground mixed spice
225 grams    Butter softened
225 grams    Billington’s Light Muscovado Sugar
5 Large Eggs
100 grams    Almonds ground
1 kg    Silverspoon Ready to Roll Marzipan designed by Mich Turner
2 tbsp Apricot Jam
1kg Silver Spoon Ready to Roll Vanilla Icing designed by Mich Turner
Silver Balls (Silver Spoon Cakecraft) a few to decorate

1. Put all the mixed dried fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the brandy, orange juice and the zest of both the orange and lemon. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for 24 hours, shaking occasionally.

2. Line a round 23cm cake tin or a square 20cm square tin with three layers of greaseproof paper. You will also need a double layer of brown paper to wrap round the outside of the tin.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C Fan/300°F, Gas 2.

4. Rinse the cherries carefully in warm water. Dry and cut into quarters

5. Sift the flour and mixed spice together

6. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, adding a
tablespoon of the flour mix after each addition.

7. Fold in the remaining flour, ground almonds, cherries and the soaked dried fruit

8. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top with the back of a spoon, making a slight well in the middle of the cake. Wrap the brown paper round the cake tin and tie with string. Bake the cake for 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/120°C Fan/275°F, Gas 1 and bake for
3 hours or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Cover the top loosely with foil if the cake is browning too much.

9. Remove the cake from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack (leave the baking paper on).

10. When cold wrap the cake in foil and store carefully. To feed the cake, pierce the cake a few times with a skewer. Drizzle over 2tbsp brandy, rewrap and store. Repeat a few times.

11. To Marzipan the cake: Warm the apricot jam in a small pan or in the microwave, until melted and just warm. Remove all the paper from the cake and place on a cake board. Lightly knead a small piece of marzipan and use this to fill in the gaps between the cake and the board. Brush the warm jam over the top and sides of the cake

12. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll out the remaining marzipan into a circle or square large enough to cover the cake (about 35cm for a 23cm diameter round cake or 20cm square cake). Using the rolling pin, lift the marzipan and lay it over the cake. Ease it down the sides with your hands ensuring there are no air pockets. Trim excess marzipan off the sides with a kitchen knife. Dust your hands with icing sugar and rub the cake lightly with your hands to ensure a smooth finish. If possible leave the marzipan to set and dry for 1 to 2 days at room temperature

13. To Ice the cake: When ready to ice the cakes, brush the marzipaned cakes lightly with a little alcohol or boiled water. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar. Lightly knead the icing and roll to thickness of 5mm thick and 35cm circle or square. Using the rolling pin, lift the icing and lay it over the cake. Push it down the sides with your hands ensuring there are no air pockets and gently easing out and folds or pleats.

14. Trim off the excess icing around the base with a sharp knife. Lightly dust with icing sugar then, using the palms of clean hands, make a polishing action over the icing to smooth the surface as much as possible. Collect all the icing trimmings and knead until smooth. Roll out again to a 5mm thickness and using the cutter of your choice (snowflakes, stars, Christmas trees, snowman), cut a number of the shapes in various sizes. Brush the bottom of the shapes with boiled water and stick to the cake. Decorate with a few Silver Spoon Cakecraft Silver Balls. Again is possible leave the icing to set of 1-2 days.