Sinikka's snippets

Finland and travelling, a woman's life, cultures, languages, photography plus family recipes


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Christmas baking: English-style fruitcake

Here is another family recipe that I found somewhere – don’t remember exactly where, some women’s magazine most likely – that has stuck with our family over the years. On the whole, I must admit I’m not too keen on the British idea of a fruitcake. Sorry to say but I just find them too dry and bitter, for some reason, even with the frosting! For example, I could never imagine a fruitcake for a wedding, no matter how nice the idea of keeping some of it for when your first baby is born. As a steadfast and stubborn Finn, I insisted that at our Finnish-British wedding, we had a Finnish-style cream and cloudberry cake, which would not keep for more than maximum one day!

But back the this Christmas cake recipe. I particularly like this one as it makes a lovely, rich and, most importantly, MOIST cake that just keeps maturing and getting better over the holidays. When I first baked one, 20+ years ago, it became an instant  favourite for my dear hubby. This year, the first time ever that we are spending Christmas just the two of us, I suggested what if we skipped the cake. After all, too many sweet things are not good for us at this age, you know. You should have seen hubby’s face of disappointment! Okey, I don’t mind, let’s bake one anyway.

Every year, the cake comes out slightly different. It depends on the amount and type of fruit, and the spirit I use. After many experiments, I must say dark rum works the best for me. But I’ve tried brandy – fine, or like this year, some rum punch from the Île de la Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Look forward to tasting this year’s edition! Another candle-lit baking session, here we go.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 240 gr baking margarine (or butter)
  • 240 gr brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs dark syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 dl plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs dark rum (or spirit of your choice)
  • 250 gr mixed dried fruit – cut into small pieces
  • 125 gr raisins
  • 1 tbs candied orange peel
  • 1 dl crushed hazelnuts
  • 3 slices of tinned pineapple – cut into chunks
  • c. 20 red and green candied cherries

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THIS IS WHAT YOU DO

  • Cream the butter and brown sugar.
  • Add the syrup and eggs, one at a time. Add about 1 tbs of flour with each egg to prevent curdling.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder, dry spices, vanilla and salt. Add to the mixture.
  • Add all the fruit, the nuts and the spirit.
  • Spoon half of the mixture into a traditional round cake tin that has been carefully buttered and dusted with breadcrumbs.
  • Even the surface and stick the candied cherries in the middle. Then spoon in the rest of the mixture.
  • Bake in 150 degrees Celsius for 1.5 hours.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a while before removing it onto a tin foil. Let it cool down properly overnight, before wrapping it in the foil, and placing in the fridge.
  • Let the cake “mature” for preferably at least one week before cutting the first slices.

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I wish I had a “scratch and smell” picture here as the spicy, aromatic, Christmasy smell filling our kitchen was so very inviting and festive. The sort of family memory that will hopefully stay in everybody’s minds for ever!

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 MERRY CHRISTMAS ❤


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Christmas baking: almond crescents

FacebookcollageThere is nothing like waking up to a white scenery through the window. No sign of snow last night but it had quietly come down while we were asleep, totally unaware. The whiteness created just the right ambience for some Christmassy baking. To really get in the mood, I need to put some Christmas music on – old-fashioned cassettes, meticulously compiled by hubby years ago, can you believe it! – light the candles, and warm up some mulled wine. Perfect! IMG_1149 This recipe was given to me 20+ years ago by a Canadian friend, and I have baked them every Christmas ever since. A true family favourite! Unlike many other labour-intensive Christmas recipes, these crescents are simple and easy to bake. And they taste heavenly – buttery, almondy, shortbready-type, sugar-coated goodness that practically melts in your mouth.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 gr butter
  • 70 ml sugar (extra fine)
  • 500 ml ordinary plain flour
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 250 ml ground almonds (almond “flour” can be bought in small packets, 75 g makes c. 200 ml)
  • 2 tsp vanilla (or substitue vanilla sugar)

THIS IS WHAT YOU DO

  • Cream butter, sugar and vanilla.
  • Add water.
  • Add flour, mixing well.
  • Add almonds (I do this last part by hand, to get the right consistency, adding flour or drops of water as needed).
  • With your fingers, form small crescents.
  • Place them on a baking tray, covered with a baking sheet.
  • Bake in 180 degrees Celsius, for about 13-15 minutes.
  • When still warm, roll in the extra fine sugar.

crescentcollageIMG_1109 The crescents won’t expand in the oven, so they can be placed close together on the baking tray. I am not too particular about their shape or size, as mine don’t need to be perfectly uniform. I simply roughly estimate the size, crescent by crescent. Sure sign of home baked goodies, isn’t it?

Et voilà, enjoy! (Great for gifts, too.)

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