If there’s anytime of the year to love. My money’s on Christmas. (nothing new here)
Food. Friends. Family. Jolliness. Decorations. In general the festive cheer and anticipation is almost too much to handle… in the best way possible.
For the past month my hands down, 100% winner, wanna set up camp and live there, favourite market in London, Columbia Road Flower Market, has been amping the Christmas vibes up a notch each sunday this month before Christmas.
You can smell the merriment (aka the mulled wine) and the rows of christmas trees for sale, which make me just wanna throw the day job in and set up life as a christmas tree farmer. (hello retirement plan).
Despite the lack of actual winter coldness here, it’s all beginning to feel A LOT like Christmas!!
Far out, if the Michael Buble carols aren’t enough, there’s buskers on every corner playing ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, and I just wanna sing straight back “OH PREACH IT BROTHER!!!” but… yeah… that’s just not what ya do is it?…
The Christmas menu has been planned (stuffed chicken is absolutely on and so is ricotta gnocchi incase you were wondering…) so naturally I’m at the gates and raring to go! Matching xmas pjs and everything!! No shame friends. Zero shame is the name of the game. Oh and cinnamon buns for breakfast… cause you can never have too much cinnamon on Christmas… or ever for that matter?
Anyway! Back to Columbia Road Market chat! So they sell these genius little ‘christmas in a bag’ scented things, which is essentially a little mesh bag filled with orange, spices, pine cones and all things christmas. It’s pretty much heaven. In a bag.
So when thinking of a christmas cake to make… ya know, just for fun…. I thought, we’d take that orange and spice HEAVENLY flavour combo and put it into cake form with oranges best friend, almond meal, along with the subtly nutty flavoured amazzzzingness that comes from brown butter frosting. The cake is also given an extra zesty touch with orange syrup, then topped with crystallised cherries (or snow dusted cherries as the christmas me says) and rosemary… ya know, just to go all ‘christmas wreath’ on you for fun.
150g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
675g caster sugar
4 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 1/2 tsp ground ginger
750g ground almonds
750g unsalted butter, room temperature
3tbsp grated zest of orange (from around 3 large oranges)
12 free-range eggs
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
50g brown sugar
Brown Butter Frosting:
225 g unsalted butter
2/3 cup (90 g) powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp heavy cream
About 10 cherries
1 egg white
1/3 cup white sugar
Around 6 large sprigs of rosemary
For the cakes:
1. Butter and line 3 round cake tins, approximately 20cm wide. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices, and add the ground almonds. Beat the butter with the orange zest until pale, then add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients with a metal spoon. Divide the mixture between the 3 cake tins (use scales if you would like an exact split of the batter) and bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins or until cooked.
3. Meanwhile make a syrup by boiling the orange juice with the brown sugar. Leave to cool. Once the cakes are cooked, prick several times with a skewer to the base and pour on the cooled syrup, dividing it 3 ways over the cakes. Leave the cake to cool completely.
For the frosting:
1. Place butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and stir until it melts completely.
2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5-10 minuter longer. Take care not to burn (it will continue to brown even after you remove it from the heat, so take it off early).
3. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a small bowl and chill until almost solidified but still soft enough to be beaten with an electric mixer (about 20-30 minutes in the freezer, an hour or so in the fridge).
4. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the powdered sugar, and salt and beat until completely smooth and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the cream until frosting is fluffy.
For the crystallised cherries:
1. Lightly brush a cherry with the egg whites, then dust over the sugar. Set aside on baking paper to air dry for 2 hours or overnight.
1. Remove the cakes from the tins and if you would like a clean iced cake look, carefully cut the dome off the cakes using a serrated knife. Using a pinch of the frosting, fasten the first cake to a cake board (top of the cake faced down) and then spoon some frosting onto the top of the first cake and smooth to the edges. Repeat this with the remaining 2 cakes.
2. Spread the frosting around the whole cake now, pressing firmly with the spatula if you would like the naked cake look.
Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes for the frosting to firm up.
3. Decorate the cake with the rosemary and crystallised cherries. Then serve and enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by!