Last-minute Christmas Fruit Cake

Recipes from Gluten-free Holiday by Hannah Miles
Ryland Peters and Small

Gluten-free Holiday cover

This is a great cake to make if you discover at the last minute that you have someone with a wheat allergy visiting for Christmas. As the fruit is soaked in wine and brandy until plump there is no need to ‘feed’ the cake with alcohol, unless you wish to.

For the cake
14 oz. dried mixed fruit
⅔ cup glacé/candied cherries, halved
¾ cup ginger wine
1 tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding (optional)
2 sticks butter, softened
1 generous cup soft dark brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 generous cup gluten-free self-raising/ self-rising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 heaped cup ground almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice/apple pie spice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To decorate
8 oz. golden marzipan
3 tbsp smooth apricot jam/jelly
10 oz. ready-to-roll icing/fondant
icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
red gluten-free sugar candies
9″ round loose-bottomed springform cake tin/pan, greased and lined with baking parchment
holly cutter
ribbon

Gluten-free Holiday fruit cake

Gluten-free Holiday fruit cake – Photography by William Reavell

 

Instructions
Put the mixed fruit, cherries, ginger wine and brandy in a bowl, cover and soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3. Whisk together the butter and sugar, until light and creamy. Whisk in the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon, mixed spice and vanilla, as well as the fruit and soaking liquid. Mix until incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin/pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the cake springs back to your touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. If you want to ‘feed’ your cake, pierce small holes in the top and spoon over a few tablespoons of brandy.

When you are ready to serve, dust a surface with icing/confectioners’ sugar, and roll out the marzipan to a 5 mm/ 1/4 inch thickness. Using the washed and dried base of the cake tin as a template, cut out a 23-cm/ 9-inch circle of marzipan. Gently heat the apricot jam in a saucepan, and brush over the top of the cake using a pastry brush. Using a rolling pin, life the marzipan circle on to the cake and press down.

Roll out 250 g/ 8 oz. of the ready-to-roll icing/fondant and cut out a 23-cm/9-inch circle, using the same method as above. Brush the top of the marzipan with more apricot jam, and place the icing circle on top. Crimp the edges of the ready-to-roll icing and marzipan into pretty patterns. Roll out the remaining icing, and cut out holly leaves. Fix the holly leaves to the top of the cake using a little of the apricot jam and tie a ribbon around the edge of the cake. Add red candy ‘berries’.

The cake will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Alternatively, wrap the un-iced cake in baking parchment and clingfilm/plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. Unwrap the cake and ‘feed’ it with several spoonfuls of brandy each week.

Serves 8–12

Snowmen Macarons

From Super-Cute Macarons by Loretta Liu
Ryland Peters and Small

Layout 1

BASIC MACARONS

Macaron making kit
To make macarons, you will need a stand mixer or mixing bowl and electric hand-held whisk, a rubber spatula, at least two flat, heavy baking sheets, a transparent silicone mat, a selection of disposable piping/pastry bags and various nozzles/tips.

Ingredients
5 oz. egg whites
1/2 cup caster/superfine sugar
3 cups ground almonds
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons icing/confectioners’ sugar

Instructions
Separate the egg whites from the yolks 3–5 days before you plan to use them, and store them, covered, in the refrigerator. Do not use fresh egg whites. After 3–5 days in the refrigerator, the egg whites will be a runnier consistency (see picture 1b).

Before baking, you need to bring the egg whites to room temperature.

Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand-held electric whisk until it has doubled in size (see picture 2). Add the caster/superfine sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue mixture looks glossy and starts to come away from the side of the bowl, forming one large blob in the middle. At this stage, if you lift the whisk, the meringue in the bowl should form a stiff peak and stay upright after the whisk has been lifted (see picture 3).

When you are first learning how to make macarons, it is a good idea to work with a very stiff meringue. This means that the end result can be slightly dry, but it gives you extra time when you reach the folding stage, allowing you time to get your ‘macaronage’ or folding technique right. If your meringue is under-whisked (or if it is perfectly whisked but you have not yet got your folding technique right), the meringue will collapse before you have incorporated all the dry ingredients.

Sift the ground almonds together with the icing/confectioners’ sugar in a separate bowl. Add the meringue mixture to the dry ingredients. You are now ready to fold the ingredients together.

Fold the meringue into the dry ingredients using quick circular movements until the mixture is ready for piping. This technique requires you to be gentle but not too gentle – you do not want to just coat the meringue in the dry mixture, you need to combine the two together. As well as being gentle, you also need to work quickly, otherwise the macaron mixture will lose its structure and collapse. Use a spatula to fold the ground almonds into the meringue until there are no more ground almonds around the edge of the bowl. At this stage, use your spatula to scoop up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and work them into the meringue. Fold until there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. The mixture should not be runny.

Makes 45

BUTERCREAM

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups caster/superfine sugar
5 large/US extra large egg whites
4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp vanilla powder or seeds of 1 vanilla pod/bean

Instructions
Place the sugar and egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer or a heatproof mixing bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk using a handheld electric whisk for 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, if using. Whisk on high speed in the mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk, until the mixture has cooled down and formed stiff peaks; about 8 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated. Don’t worry if the mixture appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with beating. Beat until smooth.

If using within several hours, cover with clingfilm/plastic wrap and keep in a cool room. Alternatively, store in the refrigerator for 3 days. Beat to soften before use.

Makes 28 oz.

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients
3 1⁄6 oz. egg whites
3-1⁄3 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions
Place the egg whites, two-thirds of the sugar and the lemon juice into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat for about 10 minutes, until white and thick. Alternatively, use a mixing bowl and hand-held electric whisk. Add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff.

If you are not using it immediately, cover the icing with a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature to prevent it from drying out.

Makes about 20 oz.

SNOWMEN
Although these jolly snowmen will be a hit at Christmas, they need not be confined to the festive season. Make them when the weather is cold, or for a winter-themed party at any time of year.

Super-cute Macarons Snowmen

Super-cute Macarons Snowmen – Photography by Maja Smend

 

For the macaron shells
1 batch Basic Macarons (see recipe)

For the filling
50 g/2 oz. candied chestnuts, finely chopped
1 batch Buttercream (see recipe)

For the decoration
1 batch Royal Icing (see recipe)
black food coloring paste
tangerine food coloring paste
holly green food coloring paste
royal blue food coloring paste
Christmas red food coloring paste
icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

disposable piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/1⁄2-in. round nozzle/tip
Snowman template
transparent silicone mat
5 small disposable piping/pastry bags for icing (for the decoration)

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF) Gas 3.

Prepare the Basic Macarons according to the recipe on page 11. Put the mixture into the piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/½-in. round nozzle/tip.

Place the Snowman template on a baking sheet, and place a transparent silicone mat on top. Using the template as a guide, pipe a snowman on to the silicone mat. Start at the top of the head then follow with the body. Repeat to make 25 snowmen (you will need more than one baking sheet).

Tap the bottom of the sheets lightly on the work surface to settle the mixture. Carefully slide the template out from under the silicone mat. Leave the macarons to rest for 20–40 minutes.

Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 12 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the undersides of the macarons are dry. Leave to cool for 30 minutes on the baking sheets.

For the filling, mix the candied chestnuts into the Buttercream. Line the snowmen macarons into rows of 2, flat-side up. Using a teaspoon, place a little chestnut filling mixture onto half of the shells, and sandwich the pairs together gently to create 25 macarons. Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.

To decorate
Prepare the Royal Icing recipe, then divide it equally into 5 portions. Use a cocktail stick/toothpick to add a little of each food coloring paste to each portion and mix. Transfer the black to a small piping/pastry bag for icing, and snip off the end to create a small hole.

Pipe the eyes and buttons in black, then repeat with the tangerine in a second piping/pastry bag and give the snowmen carrot noses. Use the remaining three colors for the snowmen’s scarves. Leave to dry for 1 hour, then lightly dust the macarons with icing/confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Makes 25

Lemon, Butter and Sugar Crêpes

Recipe by Chef Cat Cora.

Cat_Cora_Crepes

For Crêpes (makes 10 – 12)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted for brushing crêpe pan or skillet

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 250 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, egg and milk until smooth. Place a 6-inch nonstick crêpe pan, a heavy skillet, or a griddle over medium-high heat. (A nonstick pan is easiest.) Brush the pan lightly with the butter and wipe out any excess with a paper towel.

Pour in just enough batter (less than ¼ cup) to cover the bottom of the pan. Holding the pan by the handle, tilt it so the bat ter runs across the bottom and covers the entire base of the pan. After about 1 minute, the crêpe w ill turn golden brown and the edges will crisp and pull away from the pan. Then, turn the crêpe over and cook for 30 seconds, until the second side is lightly browned. Remove the crêpe from the pan and place on an ovenproof plate to cool. As the crêpes cool, you can form a stack and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining melted butter and batter.

Serve immediately, or store in the freezer by placing sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap between crêpes, then wrap the entire batch in plastic wrap.

Finishing Touches

INGREDIENTS:
10-12 crêpes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
5-6 fresh lemons, cut in half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (optional)
20 strawberries, sliced (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Reheat the crêpes one at a time in a large nonstick skillet. When the crêpe is hot, put ½ teaspoon of butter on a knife and gently rub over the surface.

Squeeze juice from half a lemon over the crêpe, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar sparingly over the juice, then fold the crêpe in half, and in half again to form a quarter circle.

If you like, dust a little confectioners’ sugar on the top and garnish with a few fresh strawberry slices.

Serves 4-6
For more recipes by Chef Cat Cora, check out her book – Cooking from the Hip.

Jamaica: Top Spots in Ochos Rios

Ochos Rios is the ideal antidote to winter. Here are 6 warm reasons to visit now.

1. In 1955, the famed English playwright, Noël Coward purchased a retreat 1,200 feet above Blue Harbour for $150. Here he would build a simple house, which he named Firefly. The hilltop property boasts incredible views of the north coast of Jamaica which is open to the public for exploring.

Statue of Noel Coward at Firefly Photography courtesy Angela Auclair

Statue of Noel Coward at Firefly
Photographed by Angela Auclair

2. Famous for its Jam-Italian fusion cuisine, the restaurant Evita’s has hosted many celebrities including Princess Margaret and Brad Pitt. The menu celebrates creativity and has garnered a reputation as “the best little pasta house in Jamaica”.

Contributor Nicholas Rosaci poses with Evita and a Chef. Photographed by Angela Auclair

Contributor Nicholas Rosaci poses with Evita and Chef in the kitchen at Evita’s.
Photographed by Angela Auclair

3. Right outside Ochos Rios are the breathtaking Dunn’s River Falls, which are over 600 meters high and cascade through steps of crystal clear water into the Caribbean Sea. Be brave and climb the falls at Jamaica’s most famous water attraction or be led in a human chain by an experienced Falls Guide.

Dabble does Jamaica96

Climb Dunn’s River Falls alone or with a Falls Guide.
Photography by Angela Auclair

4. Wassi Art is the premier place for a one of a kind Jamaican pottery. Local artists create beautifully sculpted and painted merchandise in plain view of their audience. If you are looking for something special, it’s worth spending an afternoon right here.

Dabble does Jamaica93

See pottery being made first hand at Wassi Art.
Photography by Angela Auclair

5. Located on the Good Hope Plantation, David Pinto’s Ceramic Art Studio offers an immersive and educational look into the fundamentals of ceramic making. David’s world recognized work ranges from clay teacup to spectacular life size objects of art.

Dabble does Jamaica94

Meet David and his team at David Pinto’s Ceramic Art Studio.
Photography by Angela Auclair