Making your own cranberry sauce is so easy and far more delicious than any I’ve ever bought. Unless you’re making a large batch for festive gifts, you’ll find you don’t need all of the fresh cranberries in a normal pack. In this post, I give you a lovely recipe for cranberry sauce, of course, made with orange and a dash of port. I’ve also got a few hints and tips on what to do with any remaining cranberries as well as other vegetarian Christmas leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste.
Once upon a time, long long ago, I had an Iranian boyfriend. He introduced me to a whole new cuisine, which, although similar to the Middle Eastern one I was more familiar with, was distinct and flavoursome. It was rare that he did any cooking, but when he did he always made the most delicious rice in the classic Persian way, complete with tahdig.
Although I prefer less rather than more sugar in my confectionary, there is no doubt about it, I have a sweet tooth – a sweet tooth combined with a love of chocolate. And I am not alone it seems. According to the Belgian chocolate company Callebaut, two out of three people are more likely to choose a chocolate dessert over a non-chocolate one.
Saffron with its bright yellow hues and subtle floral and bitter notes is a spice which seems singularly exotic. But it has long been associated with Cornwall. It is said that the Cornish traded with the Phoenicians way back, exchanging tin for saffron and it’s been used here ever since. This may or may not be true, but saffron was a highly popular ingredient in the Middle Ages and saffron crocuses were grown in Bude until the late 19th Century.
I always try and make the boys next door something for Christmas as a thank you for uncomplainingly taking in our parcels throughout the year. Seeing some cranberry Wensleydale cheese for sale recently, I remembered how good the Wensleydale apple cake I made last year was and thought I should perhaps try it out in some muffins. I found this recipe on the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Co website and adapted it accordingly.
So, this is how I made:
Wensleydale and Cranberry Chocolate Muffins
- Sifted 225g flour, 50g drinking chocolate, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of rock salt into a bowl.
- Stirred in 110g golden caster sugar.
- Crumbled in 125g Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.
- Peeled, cored and finely chopped one small apple and stirred this into the mix.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in 2 smallish eggs.
- Added 90 ml Mrs Middleton’s cold pressed rapeseed oil and 200 ml sour milk (ordinary milk should be fine or add a tsp of lemon juice to the milk and leave to stand for a few minutes).
- Stirred until just combined.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180°C for 22 minutes when risen and firm to the touch.
Not very elegant perhaps, but these would make great snack food for keeping the cold at bay whilst seeing in the New Year at some favourite spot out in the wilds, as we have been known to do. A flask of hot mulled wine to accompany them would not go amiss either. As such I am submitting these to Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too, which is all about New Year’s Eve Nibbles.
It was the last Clandestine Cake Club of the year and to cheer us up through the dank, dark days of November, the theme was “a splash of colour”. Time was of the essence, I had to leave the house at 8:30 to get to the venue at Truro for 10:00 and I had to do my bake that morning. So not only something colourful, but something simple was also needed. I knew the very thing. I’ve made Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess before and it was very well received. However, this time I felt the addition of some warming chilli would not go amiss – so the last vestiges of my Dartmoor Dragon bar winged its way into the mix. Talking of dragons, I’m looking forward to the next instalment of The Hobbit, coming to a cinema near you sometime very soon.
So literally hot out of the oven and into the back of the car, off we headed to Truro. Who needs an air freshener when they have hot cake on board? We had a wonderfully fragrant drive.
This is how I made:
Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake
- Melted 50g unsalted butter in a large pan.
- Added 175g cardamom sugar (golden caster) and left on the heat for a couple of minutes.
- Removed from the heat and stirred in 200g fresh cranberries. Left to one side.
- In a large bowl, melted 20g white chilli chocolate (Dartmoor Dragon)
- Creamed 200g cardamom sugar (golden caster) with 200g unsalted butter until pale in colour and fluffy in texture.
- Beat in a pinch of rock salt.
- Beat in 4 medium eggs alternately with a spoonful of the flour (see next line).
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half plain), 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional).
- Stirred in 4 tbsp sour milk.
- Turned the cranberries and sugar into a 23cm cake mould, then piled the batter on top.
- Baked for 40 minutes at 180C. Left in the mould to cool for a few minutes, then turned out onto a plate.
Though I say it myself, the cake was absolutely scrummy and benefited, I felt, from the addition of white hot chilli chocolate. It seemed to go down well with the others at CCC too. It was moist with a good flavour and the tartness of the berries offset the general sweetness. Heavens, that naga chilli, even in such a small quantity, still had a bit of a kick to it. It wasn’t as fast acting as my previous bakes, but it crept up on you and left a warm glow in the back of the throat. Cranberries aren’t just for turkeys.
The colour of my cake wasn’t quite as vibrant as some, but it held its own both in looks and taste. A splash of colour was a particularly appropriate theme, given our venue was an art shop in Truro. The name of the cake was also appropriate: CCC for the CCC. Thanks go as always to our splendid organiser Ellie Michell and to Truro Arts Company for the splendid venue.
|Coffee at Truro Arts Company|
|A splash of cakey colour|
|Loved this red stripy teapot|
Homemade mincemeat is a revelation, once made it’s hard to go back to a commercial product. Even inveterate mincemeat sceptics like CT are happy to partake of this. In fact it was hard to keep his hands off the Chilli and Chocolate Mincemeat Slice I made last year.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for my Birthday|
It’s National Chocolate Week, although every week is chocolate week in this household. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to post a showstopper chocolate cake.
This chocolate red wine cake was one of the first recipes I made from Charlotte Pike’s Easy Baking in her Hungry Student series of cookbooks. I made it back in July as my birthday offering to my work colleagues. The cake is a plain unadorned one, although I can assure you that the taste is by no means plain. However, as it was a celebratory cake, I created a chocolate red wine icing to top it and decorated it using chocolate fingers. Sadly, like the chocolate amnesia cake, I forgot to write down exactly what I did and I can no longer remember.
However, recently, I had the perfect opportunity to make one again and remind myself just how good it was. I was set a challenge of creating a Home Bargains Showstopper and was sent a selection of goodies to help me on my way. I was thrilled when a box arrived in the post packed full of all sorts of baking paraphernalia; it reminded me of a Christmas stocking as I excitedly pulled out one thing after another. The theme was definitely pink and what girl doesn’t like pink? There was a three layer pink cardboard cake stand, a pink heat mat, pink cupcake cases, pink hearts and pink marshmallows. Luckily, there was a fair amount of red in it too and red is the colour of my kitchen. I immediately fell in love with the red strawberry apron and oven glove and was pleased with the two red silicone cake moulds and cookie cutters. And it was indeed a home bargain as the whole lot would have cost less than £14. Products are available online or at 300 Home Bargain stores across the UK.
- Strawberry single oven glove – £1.49
- Top Cake love hearts – 79p
- Red strawberry apron £1.99
- Red cookie cutters – 99p
- 75 cupcake cases – 79p
- Red silicone cake mould (8″) – £1.99
- Vintage Dream cupcake cases and picks – 99p
- Stainless steel palette knife – 99p
- Silicone trivet – 79p
- Pink spotty cake stand – 99p
- Measuring spoons – 59p
- Mini marshmallows – 59p
Then along came the first Cornish Clandestine Cake Club event I’ve been able to attend in a very long time and the theme was vintage. Held at a Cornish winery, it was more of a “vin” theme than a retro recipe one, but it was left up to us to choose. The chocolate red wine cake was a must. This time I made use of some dark cranberry chocolate that was in need of using and added it along with some cranberries soaked in red wine. I donned my lovely new apron, got out the new oven glove and cake decorations, washed the cake moulds and palette knife and set to, making up a filling and topping recipe once again. This time I wrote it down.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Cranberry Red Wine Cake
- Poured 125ml red wine into a jug.
- Added 50g dried cranberries and left to soak whilst getting on with everything else.
- Melted 125g dark chocolate (half Dr Oetker 72% and half cranberry 52%) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g caster sugar and 50g molasses sugar until pale in colour and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs, one by one, adding a little of the flour mixture towards the end.
- Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 rounded tsp baking powder, 4 rounded tsp cocoa,1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt and stirred gently.
- Stirred in the wine and cranberries a little at a time.
- Stirred in the chocolate until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between two 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a tester inserted in the middle came out clean.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for CCC|
- Creamed 120g unsalted butter with 250g sifted icing sugar.
- Sifted in 40g of cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 75 ml red wine and beat vigourously until light and airy.
- Sandwiched the cakes with half of the filling and slathered the other half on top.
- Decorated with pink hearts and Dr Oetker pink sugar and shimmer balls.
Moist, tasty and easy to bake, this has become one of my favourite chocolate cakes. The addition of wine soaked cranberries was inspired, though I say it myself and added piquancy and a hint of luxury. Mine was not the only red wine cake at CCC, but CT reckoned that it stood up well to the competition. In fact, in an unguarded partisan moment, he declared it to be the best cake there.
The winery, Knightor, near St Austell and the Eden Project is housed in an old stone barn that has been spectacularly renovated. As ever, there were some fabulous cakes made by the indefatigable home bakers of Cornwall. Thanks to our mistress of ceremonies, Ellie, for organising another splendid CCC.
|Clever design – hic!|
|Black Forest Gateau made by Nat of HungryHinny|
|Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake|
|Tuck in if you dare|
|Sadly not the plate I took home|
These sweet and sticky buttery fruity yeast chocolate Chelsea buns are a real treat. They’re studded with the usual raisins, but also dark chocolate to give extra depth of flavour and delight.
Well, that temptress Tango Like Raindrops from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, made this chocolate biscuit cake for We Should Cocoa last month and I just couldn’t resist. If you haven’t seen the mango round-up yet, do take a look.
I have seen the recipe many a time in my copy of Green and Black’s Unwrapped, but was always put off by the use of a raw egg. However, when I thought about it, I realised the egg should be pasteurised by the heat of the chocolate mixture and indeed when I read the recipe properly, that is exactly what it says. I decided to use cranberries and ginger rather than cherries and add a little Amaretto to the mix. I also used my newly created dandelion honey rather than golden syrup. Other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe!
This is how I made
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
- Melted 125g unsalted butter in a medium size pan over low heat with 3 tbsp dandelion honey and 200g dark chocolate (G&B 70%).
- Beat in a medium egg until well incorporated.
- Added a slug of Amaretto
- Added 100g of roughly broken digestive biscuits (should have been 50g, but I do like digestives in tiffin).
- Stirred in 50g whole walnuts, 50g raisins, 25g died cranberries and 25g crystallised ginger.
- Poured into a lined 20 cm sq tin and placed in the fridge to set for three hours.
- Cut into 16 squares.
This should come with a serious health warning: it is very addictive and if you have as little willpower as I do, a locked fridge might be a good idea. Despite it’s deliciousness, it was messy to eat with a very soft texture which melted all over our hands. I’m glad I’ve finally tried making tiffin with an egg, but I think I will stick to my firmer and egg fee version in the future.