Xmas Cake

Made my Xmas Cake today. When it comes to Xmas cakes I go by Delia’s rule of equal flour, butter and sugar. Todays mix:

16oz each of organic white flour, butter and soft brown sugar and 8 organic free range eggs. Cream butter & sugar, whisk the eggs then add to creamed butter mix gradually. Once all mixed fold in the flour and a couple of pinches of salt.

To this I then add whatever I have in the pantry. Today included handfuls each of chopped prunes, figs, sultanas, walnuts and stem ginger (and a glug of the syrup). A tablespoon of treacle, then the spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg/mace are my favourites at Xmas. Grated zest of an orange and lemon and then a few tablespoons of last years extremely boozy mincemeat.  The sugar and booze have preserved it and it is now the most luscious mincemeat ever.  Its ridiculously boozy and contains, as far as I can remember, brandy, rum, port, whisky and some more sloe brandy for good measure. The flavours have had a whole year to develop and mellow together and it is going to be in most of my Xmas concoctions this year.

Butter then line the cake tin with parchment, pour in the cake mixture then stick on the bottom shelf of an oven heated to 140C for about 4 1/2 hours or however long it takes until a skewer comes out from the cake clean. Leave to cool in the tin then wrap in parchment then tin foil and transfer to whatever container your going to be keeping it in (I use a big metal biscuit tin) and feed with brandy as often as you like until Xmas, I usually feed it about once or twice a week.

Rose Infused Goat’s Cheese

I was born in Bath and whenever I head back to see family the Fine Cheese Company is always one of my favourite haunts to stock up on fantastic cheese.  On my last visit I discovered a fresh goats cheese called Figue a la Rose. I fell completely in love with it but it is almost impossible to find elsewhere bar online delivery and at great cost so of course I decided to make my own.

I used a young, soft, organic goats cheese from Tescos for my first time and have stuck with it for 2 reasons: 1 – it comes in its own little plastic pot so it can infuse in the smallest amount of rose water that envelops the mound of cheese so its not made soggy by the infusion and 2 – I haven’t been able to get hold of any Brockhall Farm (the Queen of British Goats Cheese)  yet as I haven’t been up that way. Believe me I cannot wait to try this with her artisan goats cheese! The Rose water can be found in pretty much any Asian food store and costs about 99p (it also makes a great toner for your face or addition to a homemade facepack!).


Simply peel back the lid a little way and pour in the rose water. Pop the lid back over and cover with a bit of cling film so that any smells from your fridge don’t get in there too. Put it back in the fridge and let infuse overnight. When you are ready to use it simply tip any excess rose water away and pop it on your cheeseboard. So far this has always been the most popular addition to my cheeseboard! If you like Lavender,  try popping a couple of little lavender flowers in with the rose water infusion. Dead easy and so beautiful and delicate in flavour. Drizzle with your favourite honey (I use sweet chestnut honey) and a scatter of pistachio nuts and you are good to go.