Christmas for me is a disparate and disorganised affair – zipping between various peoples houses, delivering a Small Boy to all the relatives that want to pinch his cheeks and ruffle his hair, like an exasperated sugar-high parcel. Popping in on parents and grandparents, gathering waifs and strays at mine for my almost-annual ‘Make Christmas A Bit Less Shit’ gathering, and in all of that hullaballoo, well, I forgot to make a cake this year. I think I’m the only person that likes it, anyway.

So a few weeks ago I dug out some old recipes of mine, from days yonder when buying three kinds of nuts and obscure dried fruits was de rigeur, and gawped at the sheer length of the ingredient lists. I set myself a challenge to make a Christmas-ish cake with fewer than nine ingredients. That was pretty easy, so I tried for eight. You can see where this is going! I ended up here; to be honest, the five ingredient cake was my favourite, but I can’t resist the simplicity of this once. It’s lighter than traditional Christmas cake, more of a Christmas-spiced fruit cake, but feel free to ramp up the flavours as you see fit. Use it as a base and add more of your favourite ingredients or whatever festive goodness you have to hand. I dredged mine with icing sugar to finish because I burned the top of it!

Makes 8 decent slices from 16p each

200ml ginger ale or ginger beer, 5p (50p/2l)

2 eggs, 26p (£2/15 mixed weight free range eggs)

400g mincemeat, 90p (90p/411g – I slung the whole jar in!)

200g self raising flour, 6p (45p/1.5kg)

1 round 20cm cake tin

First measure out your ginger ale or ginger beer; it needs to be fizzy in order for this to work as the bubbles seem to act as a kind of leavening agent. Because, science, or something. Measure it out in a jug or measuring cups, and wait for the bubbles to settle so you know you have the right amount. Pour it into a large mixing bowl.

Add the mincemeat and mix well to loosen it; this forms the basis of your sugar, fruit and spices. You may wish to add more, if you like your cake dense and fruity, the amount specified in the recipe gives a lightly generous mouthful but it could certainly hold a little more if you are so inclined.

Crack in the eggs and stir in the flour and mix well. Lightly grease your cake tin and pour the mixture in.

Bake at 170C for 50 minutes, covering with foil halfway through to stop the top from browning too much. I forgot to do this and it ended up with a slightly treacly crust – not unpleasant, but rather more chewy on the first bits than I would have wanted. I’m blitzing it into a Christmas Cake Trifle which is every bit as terribly decadent as it sounds – and will of course post the recipe in due course!

I mentioned the five ingredient cake above – this recipe delivers a slightly boozy hit from the ginger beer, spices and fruit from the mincemeat, and richness from the eggs, but I did feel it was lacking a bit of a citrus kick. So for the 5 ingredient version I added two tablespoons of chunky marmalade in place of two tablespoons of mincemeat. Finally, this cake keeps for around a week, so it’s a last minute Christmas cake rather than a make-ahead one! Enjoy!

My new book Tin Can Cook is available to order now!

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