22 October 2011

...food is the food of love. Apparently.

Recipes. As promised.

We have bowls of fruit soaking in brandy hidden in high cupboards to keep it away from predators, four legged and two legged...




Christmas Cake In a Saucepan! (Sorry, just in English. I can't do the converting to cups for all of this!)

175g unsalted butter , chopped into cubes.
200g dark muscovado sugar
750g mixed dried fruits (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries and yummy stuff)
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
100ml/3½ fl oz brandy plus 4tbsp more
3 large eggs , lightly beaten
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

You need an 20cm (8″) round cake tin (loose-bottomed and deep).

Personally I soak the mixed fruit in the brandy at least overnight. You don't have to. Or you could use juice to soak it in.

Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line the cake tin. Stir the eggs and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly – use the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it’s cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.

For something easier and more fun, here's a link to choccy swirls In American. In English. (So much easier than writing it all out!). We doubled the amounts, because...well, because you can't have enough chocolate shortbread. And there already isn't much left, after only a day... Mycroft loves the new kitchen. The dogs have thoroughly explored it and hoovered up crumbs and dropped chocolate chunks and licked sticky hands clean...

Anyway, now to try to persuade Sherlock to go to bed. He's been up since...oh, God, I don't even want to think about it. Early. That's when we made shortbread. I fell asleep on the sofa after lunch. And somehow Sherlock managed to make me promise to do eggy bread with Panettone and fruit at some point...

Tomorrow we start the pond...God help us.

56 comments:

kholly said...

Good luck with the pond. At least it should count as your exercise for the day (week?).

Ria said...

If anyone's curious, I'd be happy to do the conversions to volume. Looks delicious!

John H. D. Watson said...

John's fault

Is this a new tag or have I missed it up to now? And why is cake my fault!

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

New tag. So much is your fault I felt it needed a tag.

Pond is your fault. Cake is everyone's fault.

(New t-shirt slogan: 'The doc's got me between a rock and a hard place' :D )

John H. D. Watson said...

You volunteered for the pond! Don't make me go back and find the post because I will.

I'm happy to take the blame for cake, but I was still mostly asleep for the shortbread. All I did was make tea and get in the way.

('Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me'?)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Mm, and what a nice cleft it is too.

Are you sure I wasn't volunteered? I think I just mentioned that I had previous.

You were asleep, and looking completely delicious. It was very tempting to lock the door and pull the fnug over my head and stay in bed with you.

There is no way the first cooking of the day should be completed before dawn breaks.

John H. D. Watson said...

You definitely volunteered. I was going to stick Mrs T with the job. I think I also said I'd do all the digging though, which was a mistake. I hadn't planned on it being quite this big.

Not if it's shortbread, certainly.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

You did say that. But I think in some sort of fit of kindness when I was a bit broken, so I'll let you off (you do realise we'll still be moving about 6 tonnes of soil, right? Where are we going to PUT it? Would Mrs T like some raised flowerbeds for the kids? Or... a hill?)

And is anyone else going to help, at all?

John H. D. Watson said...

If there were raised beds they could grow vegetables, couldn't they? Might be good.

I made some calls while you were cooking breakfast. We'll have at least five people apart from us, and I hope more. B wants to know if you're going to be wearing your leather jacket...

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

yeah, raised beds would be good. Although I hesitate to give us any more work to do...

Who's B? And why does s/he want to know? (answer probably no. I imagine stripped to the waist after about half an hour of digging. Which is enough to put anyone but the most absurd Doctors off.)

John H. D. Watson said...

...You make a valid point. Is it a lot of work?

I'm pretty sure she'll like that better. You met her at the sports day, very tall, very blonde. She's Peter's mother, which means we probably have her to blame for the water pistol.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

we'd need something to make it out of. Should ask if the guy with the rocks also does railway sleepers/timber. It wouldn't be loads of extra work, but would make sense to build the 'container' parts of the beds first, so we can dump the soil straight into them, rather than dig it and dump it, to then re-barrow it and put it in them. They wouldn't take long, with a nail gun and some fixing plates.

Right. I'll just stay close to you. And stay clothed.

Ria said...

I hope you two have a lot of shovels. And wheelbarrows. And minions.

Raised beds shouldn't be too hard, so long as they're close enough to the pond that you don't have to move the dirt too far. It won't take more than a bit of plywood and some nails, and a few extra minutes at the beginning.

John H. D. Watson said...

Right, I'll call him tomorrow. What's a fixing plate?

Ha. Don't worry, she's bringing her husband so I assume she'll stop at subtle ogling.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

We used to use galvanised steel 'corners' when I was a kid. But just tell him what we're planning, see what he's got. As long as he brings a saw we can just stick a chunk of the wood inside the corner to nail to if we have to.

Checking out the internet it looks like you can buy them pretty much ready made, too, if it comes to it. So perhaps that, if he can't help?

Still going to keep my shirt on. You're the only one who gets to ogle, subtly or not. (not, in your case...)

John H. D. Watson said...

It's true, I'm seldom subtle when it comes to ogling you.

All right. We should probably ask Mrs T too before we build her places to plant things she might not want to plant.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Yeah.

Seems like the neatest idea though - no huge heaps of soil for the kids to spread about, just neat wooden boxes.

I think I need to go to bed, been a long day. And tomorrow's going to be even longer...

John H. D. Watson said...

It'll be fun! Bed would be good though, yes. Today started much too early.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Mm. I believe you.

Be more fun if I could periodically grope your arse and generally get my hands all over you. Which I feel will be severely frowned upon by other parents.

At least your day started with breakfast and the lovely smell of baking shortbreads!

My day started with Sherlock telling me he'd 'Found the banana he lost down the edge of his bed'. I didn't know he'd lost one, or I can assure you it would have been found before it liquified, not after.

John H. D. Watson said...

Which I feel will be severely frowned upon by other parents.

Ha. Well, you'll never know for certain unless you try!

Oh god, you never told me about the banana. I'm so sorry...and so glad it wasn't me. You could've woken me up though. I mean, it is my job.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Right, if I do try, and it is frowned upon, I may as well make a blank post just using my new tag and be done with it. Just warning you.

It was only a banana, I don't mind. And like I said, you looked lovely all sleepy and cuddly.

I'm surprised his room wasn't full of fruit flies. Probably too cold or something.

You can find the next bit of fruit he 'loses'.

John H. D. Watson said...

For that I will happily take the blame.

True. Considering it's Sherlock, I suppose it could've been much worse.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

yeah, you wait until the entire giblets from the Christmas turkey 'go missing'. The smell from something like that would be impressive... but I wouldn't put it past him.

John H. D. Watson said...

At least he's unlikely to 'lose' anything of that sort in our room.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

If Mycroft's home with the hounds he'll 'lose' anything tasty to them anyway, and they do a great job of cleaning. Just don't think week old bananas are there kind of thing.

Unlike cheddar. Nearly had one of them in the fridge earlier, after cheese.

Anyway, right now, enjoy the peace and quiet and sleep, yeah?

John H. D. Watson said...

They like the shortbread too. I had half of Phobos in my lap earlier.

Mm, sleep.

Ria said...

Dogs are astonishingly crafty in their efforts to get food. Ours somehow managed to get their paws on a dozen waffles last week.

REReader said...

*blinks at recipe*

Erm. I think that one is a bit beyond my capabilities. I made a couple of chocolate cakes for the holiday and while they came out well--very fudgy--they weren't actually supposed to BE fudgy. When my sister made that recipe last week it came out moist but light. So I went wrong somewhere--and it was a much simpler recipe than your fruit cake.

Are you sure I wasn't volunteered?

I'm with John on this one--as I recall, you volunteered. If I were energetic I'd go look for proof, but I am not.

My day started with Sherlock telling me he'd 'Found the banana he lost down the edge of his bed'. I didn't know he'd lost one, or I can assure you it would have been found before it liquified, not after.

Eeeeeeeuuuuuuuuwwwwwwwwwww.... But yeah, it could have been a lot worse. As if in Molly HAD had some spare body parts...

REReader said...

Oh, and have fun with the Great Pond Project!

Becca said...

It's not just dogs. My cat stole a banana off the counter and hid it under the couch for long enough that it was a giant sticky mess. We kept trying to figure out what was making her sick, and it was only luck that I noticed it.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Well, pond digging is at least taking place in glorious weather. I may be forced to take my top off. Digging is hot work. Hot dirty work.

REReader said...

You're just trying to lure us into coming over to watch, so you can rope us into helping.

It could work.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

I really don't think my flabby belly and greying body hair will tempt anyone into climbing into a muddy hole with me! Well, apart from Danger, but he's a bit touched, isn't he? Clearly.

As the day goes on my digging time vs. my resting time is changing dramatically...the dogs are sort of helping. Although it's hard to get them to dig in the right place. And they're very muddy now.

John H. D. Watson said...

Everyone's going to need to be hosed down at the end of the day.

Ria said...

Re: your "flabby belly and greying body hair"-- I would bet good money that several people working on the pond with you would disagree if it were put to a vote.

I'd certainly come along and help (read: ogle) if I were on the correct continent.

Small Hobbit said...

Do let us know if you need any help with the hosing down.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

hosed down? put down, I think!

REReader said...

I'd certainly come along and help (read: ogle) if I were on the correct continent.

See? :D

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Mmm. The house is peaceful. And smells of cake.

I'm hoping alcohol soaked fruit doesn't do dogs any harm...and glad they sleep in Mycroft's room. (It wasn't much, just a couple of raisins and some peel.)

John H. D. Watson said...

I don't think it even got them tipsy. They're too big.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

And they're already clumsy enough to make it unnoticeable, really.

It was more an adverse effect on their digestion I was worried about. But I don't think it was enough to bother them. Not having seen what they eat in the park...

John H. D. Watson said...

And off the floors and everywhere else, not to mention what I suspect the boys at Harrow have been feeding them.

Small Hobbit said...

Does this mean you've made your cakes, or just dropped the fruit?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Made/making cakes. The oven isn't big enough for all of them at once, so the last one is in, the other two are cooling.

Everyone's stirred up the mix and made a wish.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Danger - you want to start worrying when the dogs start smoking behind the bikesheds

John H. D. Watson said...

Or sneaking out after curfew. Maybe eating their own homework.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Hah. they're a team - they'd eat each other's homework!

Wonder how old they are?

Wonder if Harrow has a problem with kids smoking? Might talk to Mycroft...I worry.

John H. D. Watson said...

No idea. Could ask Mrs Holmes. She must know something about them.

I had friends who went away to school and based on what they always said, I'd say they have problems with kids doing a lot of things, but...Harrow's a lot nicer than, well, just about anywhere. So maybe it's all right.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Can you tell from their teeth or something? Don't want to cut a leg off and count the rings...

Yeah, that's my hope. But then, peer pressure is peer pressure. I started smoking at Mycroft's age. But then again I dropped out of school two years later, so it's not as if he's going to follow in my footsteps anyway!

REReader said...

I think a talk with Mycroft is a good idea. Mycroft is very sensible. Still, it's good to have some specific information with which to be sensible.

(And Mycroft has Anthea right there, looking over his shoulder.)

I hate to say, but Harrow being nicer won't be that much of a help. Religious schools have drug and tobacco and alcohol problems--less than other schools, perhaps, but less is not the same as none. (I speak from some experience, as I worked in the dorm office of my religious college, and that was also the dorm office of the school's high school. And that was...oh, about 30 years ago now. I strongly doubt matters have gotten better over time.)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

I don't know. They've had enough experience to know what boys will try to do! And they are very well organised.

I'm not suggesting they won't have problems, but I can't imagine it's anything like the inner city comps. And Mycroft is intelligent enough to know his own mind. But like I said, peer pressure is always hard to deal with.

REReader said...

You're quite right there--it should be less bad at Harrow. But where there is money, there are drug dealers--well, you'd know more about that than I would, so I'll shut up about that now.

I think that with Mycroft, you'd really just need to give him ammunition with which to hold his own ground. I never saw the profit in hitting myself in the head with a hammer, and I can't imagine he'll see it any differently. Nor do I think he'll need an escape that badly ever, seeing as he has you two.

John H. D. Watson said...

Nor do I think he'll need an escape that badly ever, seeing as he has you two.

I hope that's true. As for school, all we can do is talk to him and hope they know what they're doing there. They ought to; they've been doing it long enough.

REReader said...

I'd think talking with him should be enough. He's 13 going on 40 (and I mean that as a large compliment), and not the self-experimenter type--and, as I said, he has you behind him.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Mmm.

I'm doing much better with you behind me, Danger. Barely been in trouble at all. Only twice. Ish.

So if you've managed the forty(ish) yr old, I'm sure you can manage the 13-going-on-forty year old.

Now the cakes are all happily cooling and soaking up their first brandy, I'm going to bed. Hopefully with you behind me.

John H. D. Watson said...

You do have the best plans.

Post a Comment