Christmas time is a time of giving, a time of sharing and although this sounds wonderful, it is simply not possible because of the expense. How often do you just buy anything for the sake of having to have a gift for someone? However there are small gestures that one can use to pass on the Christmas cheer to a neighbour, teacher or anyone else that you have on your list. Therefore making something for a friend, colleague or family member is often more special as it shows the thought and dedication that went into the preparation of the gift.
Christmas mince pies are simple to make and they freeze well so you can get them prepared well in advance to avoid the Christmas rush. From your local supermarket, buy some Christmas paper plates, red serviettes, coloured cellophane wrap and decorative ribbon. So let’s begin with the baking.
Christmas Mince Pies
250g Margarine 1 cup sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder 2 eggs
500g Cake flour 1 bottle of Fruit mince meat
Sift the cake flour and baking powder. Cream the margarine and sugar, adding eggs one at a time and beating well between each one. Add the sifted ingredients and beat until it forms a big ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Now cut the dough into 4; each ¼ will make approximately one dozen. Roll out using a rolling pin and cut using a round cutter. Place cut outs into a greased muffin pan. Add about 2 teaspoons of mincemeat into the dough lined muffin pan. Now cover with another cut out forming the ‘lid’. Make a small hole in the top. This allows the heat from the mincemeat to escape and therefore helping it from spilling over. Bake at 190C for 10-15 minutes.
These can be packed in a well-sealed container and frozen until required. Once ready to create your gift, defrost well. Sprinkle the top of each small pie with castor sugar. Now place them on your Christmas paper plate. An ordinary paper plate may also be used, simply line it with a red serviette to make it look more attractive. Finally wrap in cellophane and bind with a Christmas ribbon.
Christmas cakes also make wonderful gifts. However not everyone is a fan of this type of cake so instead of making a large one, simply make smaller individual cakes. This is easily achieved by using old large jam tins as baking tins.
150g butter or margarine 200g sugar
25ml strong black coffee powder 750g cake mix
180ml boiling water 8ml bicarbonate of soda
25ml brandy 3 large eggs, beaten
360g cake flour, sifted 10ml baking powder
10ml ground mixed spice 8ml cinnamon
2ml salt 250g glazed cherries – wash, dry and chop
150g nuts, chopped 50ml brandy
50ml sherry 45 butter, melted
Using a deep 220mm round cake tin, grease and line the sides and base with greaseproof paper. Now wrap a double layer of brown paper around the outside securing with string. Place butter, coffee powder, sugar and boiling water in a saucepan and heat till melted. Remove from heat and add bicarbonate of soda and cake mix, stirring together and allowing it to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in brandy and eggs and set aside. Sift together the cake flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder and salt. Stir half into the cake mixture and use the remainder to coat the cherries and nuts. Now add the coated mix into the cake mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Ensure that the cake mixture is level in the tin when baked. Bake at 140C for two hours or until an inserted skewer into the centre comes out clean. Heat brandy, sherry and melted butter in a saucepan and pour over the cake once removed from the oven. Allow to cool before removing from the tin.
To store, wrap in greaseproof paper and then tinfoil. This cake can be stored for up to 2 months before required by placing it in an airtight container. In fact these cakes almost need to ‘age’ as it enhances the flavour. When making the smaller individual cakes, remember to reduce the baking time and it is best to use the skewer test to ensure that they have baked perfectly. The cake may also be iced using marzipan and ‘plastic’ icing. It also makes an ideal pudding if left plain and served with piping hot custard.