Baking is one of my favourite things to do at this time of year. I love all the traditional Christmas flavours, like orange and brandy and dried fruit and spices. And it's nice to have something tasty ready to put out if friends drop in or to take to "bring a plate" things. This marmalade gingerbread cake isn't really a Christmas recipe but the orange, golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon flavours make it taste festive to me. It has a really lovely delicate crumb, and goes perfectly with a cup of coffee. I also love that it's from my childhood copy of the Usborne First Cookbook - it's one of the first things I remember baking by myself. My taste in cake hasn't changed at all.
The recipe is:
250g self raising flour1 beaten egg
90g butter or margarine
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
150g golden syrup (I used treacle instead, which worked fine)
250g chunky marmalade
2 tablespoons hot water
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 170C
Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line it with baking paper.
Cut up the butter. Put it in a saucepan with the syrup. Melt them over a low heat.
Sift the flour, ginger, salt and cinnamon in to a bowl. Make a hollow in the centre.
Slowly pour the syrup mixture in to the hollow, stirring in the flour from the sides as you do so. Add the marmalade, egg and water and mix everything together.
The mixture should be soft, and drop off a spoon easily. If it is stiff, add more water.
Pour the mixture into and spread it out evenly with a knife.
Bake the cake on the centre shelf of the oven for an hour.
The cake is done when it is golden brown an dthe centre feels springy to the touch.
Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn it out on to a wire cooling rack. It lasts well in an airtight container. But it always seems to disappear quickly at our house.
Other Christmas cooking: I bought a 5kg box of apricots a couple of weeks ago and made three batches of apricot jam - I ended up with 21 jars of jam, which is a good haul, and have been giving it away to friends and family. I use the recipe from Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion, and Susie has posted a similar one here. I think apricot jam is a good introduction to jam-making - it's not too fiddly, the finished jam is delicious, and they're in season at the start of December which is perfect for pre-Christmas jam making.
I want to do some biscuit making this week too - we've already made chocolate espresso snowcaps, and this week I'll do some of the Ottolenghi spiced cookies and the Bill Granger Orange and Cardamom biscuits. And some mince pies.