Posts Tagged ‘almond extract’

A Better Version Of Simnel Cake Than My Last Attempt

Monday, March 19th, 2012
A year or so ago I made a simnel cake, but it came out rather squat and a tad heavy. The squatness was easily remedied with a smaller baking tin, while the texture was improved through using a lighter recipe with more eggs. I have, also, used an idea that was given to me, and the marzipan is incorporated into the cake itself rather than as a layer between two halves.

I made this cake on Saturday and we tried a few pieces today for Mothering Sunday. The fourth Sunday in Lent in England is Mothering Sunday. This celebration is based on the day’s appointed old testament reading (Isaiah 66) for the Church of England, which includes the lines “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be ye glad with her“, combined with the day’s new testament lesson (Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians) which speaks of Jerusalem as “the mother of us all“.

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

Combined with this, Mothering Sunday was the day when, prior to the First World War, servants were the given the day off to visit their mothers. In the Victorian period, some 50% of all employment was in domestic service, of which a goodly chunk was unmarried girls. These young women were given free rein in the kitchen to make a cake to show off their skills to their mothers, and so they devised a rich, fruit cake that they then carried home and it was stored until Easter, some three Sundays thereafter. This gave the cake ample time to mature nicely ready to be decorated with marzipan. It is worth remembering in these profligate times (if pretty austere economically) that fruits, nuts and sugar were relative expensive items back in the nineteenth century unlike today where they are comparatively cheap.

As for the marzipanning, the cake is topped with rich marzipan that is then baked to a golden brown, and around the top there are either 12 or 11 balls. I must admit to always decorating with 11 balls for the eleven disciples, although Elisabeth Luard says it should be 12 to signify the 11 disciples and Jesus, which may be more correct as it reflects the British superstition for the number 13 and is a lot easier to balance out on the top of the cake. The missing ball is for Judas Iscariot who is no longer a disciple by Easter.

The Steenbergs’ Simnel Cake Recipe

The marzipan:

250g / 9oz caster sugar
250g / 9oz ground almonds
2 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
1tsp of almond extract
1 medium free range egg, lightly beaten (keep in mug or cup for the glaze later on)

The Cake:

110g / 3¾oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
110g / 3¾oz soft brown sugar
150g / 5¼oz plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
150g / 5¼oz raisins
50g /1¾oz currants
150g /5¼ oz sultanas
55g / 2oz candied mixed peel
2tsp orange extract
2tbsp apricot jam
1tsp mixed spice
½tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground cinnamon

What to do?

Pre heat the oven to 140C/285F. Prepare an 18cm/ 7 inch and quite tall cake tin, by lightly oiling it all over, then lining it with baking parchment.

To make the marzipan: place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl, then add the 2 lightly beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the almond essence and knead for a minute or two until it becomes smooth and soft. Divide the marzipan into 3 roughly equal portions.

Next, I start by preparing the flour and dried fruit:
  • Sieve the plain flour, baking spices together into a mixing bowl.
  • Mix the dried fruit together in a big mixing bowl either with a spoon or your hands. I prefer hands as cooking should be a tactile experience, but also it enables you to break up the fruit which is usually quite stuck together. Next add the mixed peel and spread that through the mix, using your fingers. Finally, I mix through 1tbsp of the flour mix, which will stop the fruit dropping to the bottom of the cake in the oven.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a decent sized mixing bowl using a hand-held electric whisk. Add the lightly beaten eggs and orange extract until well mixed together. Then add the flour-spices mix and mix together thoroughly.

Now take one of the pieces of marzipan and break into small chunks. Add these to the cake mix and gently fold into the cake batter, trying to keep them as intact as possible.

Spoon the simnel cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place into the centre of the pre heated oven and cook for one hour and thirty minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. After 15 minutes turn out and place on wire rack to cool down.

Baked Simnel Fruit Cake

Baked Simnel Fruit Cake

When cooled down, brush the top of the cake with the apricot jam. Next, dust a rolling surface with icing sugar and a rolling pin also with icing sugar (otherwise it sticks to everything), then roll out one of the remaining pieces of marzipan. Place this rolled marzipan over the top of the cake, cutting off the edges (they taste nice so enjoy these as a cook’s perk). With the final third of marzipan, split it into 11 (or 12) equal pieces and roll into balls and place these around the edge of the cake. Finally, glaze the marzipan with the beaten egg.

Put the cake under a hot grill and brown the top of the cake lightly, then leave to cool.

Simnel Cake With Baked Marzipan

Simnel Cake With Baked Marzipan

Recipe For German Stollen

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

My mother is German, our family coming originally from Eastern Germany; in fact, my maternal great great grandfather’s family were from even further east in modern Poland, being a headmaster for a school in Gdansk

Slices Of Homemade Stollen

Slices Of Homemade Stollen

As a result, one of my favourite treats has always been stollen and lebkuchen which my grandmother used to send us from Lebkuchen Schmidt in Nurnburg.  Everything came in gorgeous decorated tins or beautifully covered in pretty wrapping. It really was one of those magical things about my Christmases when I was young, but the mystery has gone a bit now that you can buy versions from Marks & Spencer through to Lidl, even if the quality just is not there; in the same way, Niederegger marzipan was a special treat, yet is now ubiquitous, and we used to get a 10 inch bar covered in chocolate, from which we used to cut off small slices to eat like manna.  As I said earlier, ours used to come from Lebkuchen Schmidt and I have treated myself to a pack this year, so fingers crossed that will arrive by Christmas (the wonders of the world wide web and its power to connect).

But I really felt that I could/ should have a crack at making homemade stollen as, unlike the lebkuchen, this is something (a) I ought to be able to make; (b) the treat factor in stollen is less great.   For reference, I used three books: Delia Smith’s “Christmas”, Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter’s “Bread” and my other favourite Elisabeth Luard’s “European Peasant Cookery”, with “Bread” used as the key recipe.  Interestingly, modern stollen (or shop bought stollen) has morphed into a relatively dry, sweet fruit cake with some marzipan in it and smothered in icing sugar (nor is it a rich fruit cake like Christmas cake or Yorkshire brack, but quite plain), which is not the real thing which should be an enriched bread; the best locally made stollen cake comes from Bettys & Taylors, which is worth treating yourself to. 

Recipe For German Stollen
75g / 3oz / ½ cup organic sultanas
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup organic currants
3tbsp strong black tea or Steenbergs Christmas chai
375g / 13oz / 3¼ cup strong bread flour
Pinch sea salt
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup Fairtrade caster sugar
1tsp Steenbergs stollen spice (or ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp allspice powder and ½ tsp cinnamon powder)
40g / 1½ oz fresh yeast (or half the amount of dried yeast)
120ml / 4fl oz / ½ cup lukewarm full milk
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
55g / 2oz / ⅔ cup organic mixed peel
50g / 2oz / ⅓ cup blanched whole almonds, chopped roughly
Melted butter, for dusting
Icing sugar for dusting

For the marzipan: 

115g / 4oz / 1 cup organic ground almonds
50g / 2 oz / ¼ cup organic Fairtrade caster sugar
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup organic icing sugar
½ tsp natural almond extract
½ tsp lemon juice
½ medium egg, lightly beaten

Weigh out the organic sultanas and currants, then sprinkle the tea over these and leave to soak up the liquid until you need them later.  Sift the bread flour and salt together into a large bowl, then add the sugar and stollen spices and mix thoroughly together.

Tip In The Stollen Spice Mix

Tip In The Stollen Spice Mix

Put the yeast into a small bowl and pour over the lukewarm milk, breaking up the yeast with a fork and mixing to a creamy emulsion.  Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast mix into this and cover the liquid over with a bit of flour.  Cover the bowl with some cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.  This stage gets the yeast active and growing.

Leave The Yeast To Start Dividing

Leave The Yeast To Get Active

Next, we make the rich bread batter.  Add the melted butter and whisked egg and mix together to a soft dough.  Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough has a smooth, elastic texture.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise.  This will take 2 – 3 hours and you are after it doubling in size; I left mine close to a warm fire and it doubled in about 1 hour, but be careful about the warmth as the ideal temperature is about 37C, i.e. human body temperature – too low and it will expand slowly, but if it gets too hot, you will kill off the yeast (that is also why the milk should be tepid or touch tepid).

Add The Melted Butter And Whisked Egg To The Bread Batter

Add The Melted Butter And Whisked Egg To The Bread Batter

Knead The Enriched Dough

Knead The Enriched Dough

While the dough is rising, you should make the marzipan.  This is one of those mega-simple recipes where you simply mix all the ingredients together and knead to a soft, smooth paste.  When made, put in the fridge until you need it. 

When the dough has risen sufficiently, take the marzipan out of the fridge, then tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch (knock back) the risen flour.  Flatten and roll the dough to 1 inch thick;. pour over the sultanas, currants, mixed peel and chopped almonds.  Fold over the dough and press and gently knead the dough until all the fruits have become incorporated.  Now roll out the dough to an oval shape about a foot long (30 x 23cm / 12 x 9 inches), then slightly depress the centre with the rolling pin to make it thinner like a crease on a card.  Roll the marzipan to a long thin sausage shape and place it into the slight depression on the dough, leaving a short space at either end.  Fold over the dough, so that it covers the marzipan and gently seal the edges. 
Place The Marzipan Roll On The Dough

Place The Marzipan Roll On The Dough

Place the loaf on a prepared baking tin that has been lightly oiled and cover with some oiled clingfilm.  Leave in a warm place to rise to double the volume again, which should take about 60 minutes.
Prepared Loaf Ready For Second Rising

Prepared Loaf Ready For Second Rising

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F.  Bake the stollen loaf for about 30 minutes until it is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.  While warm, brush the surface with some melted butter and leave to cool.  When cool, dust it with icing sugar. 

Sprinkle Icing Sugar Over The Baked Stollen

Sprinkle Icing Sugar Over The Baked Stollen


Recipe For Almond Cake

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

This recipe began with a blog post from David Lebovitz, who wrote that his desert island food would be Almond Cake.  So with great anticipation, I tried his recipe several weeks back, but while Sophie and I loved the marzipan-almond luxury and the old style moist, fulsome texture, we both found the taste overpoweringly sweet; I do tend towards the puritan rather than one for luxury.  I checked the recipe, which I had got correct, so decided massively to reduce the sugar content from 415.75g to 262.5g (14.7oz to 9¼ oz), which still gives a balanced and sweet cake.

The glory of this cake rests with the use of almond paste or pre-made marzipan, which is then supplemented by adding extra almond extract and vanilla extract to bolster the volatiles in the flavour profile.  You need to use a shop-bought marzipan as the texture is much finer than a home-made version. 

It is also one of those cakes which matures with age, becoming moister and the aromas maturing nicely, rather than being one of those cakes that become dry and crumbly. 

It would be fabulous eaten with a cooked seasonal berries, or with a little amaretto drizzled onto it for a boozy alternative.  There’s a creamier alternative Almond Cake recipe at Chocolate & Zucchini that adds yoghurt or sour cream for further luxury.

(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients For Almond Cake

Ingredients For Almond Cake


150g / 5¼ oz Fairtrade caster sugar
150g / 5¼ oz marzipan (I used Crazy Jack Organic Marzipan)
75g / 2½ oz organic ground almonds
140g / 5 oz organic plain flour
225g / 8oz unsalted butter, at room temperature and chopped into cubes
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
1 tsp natural vanilla extract (naturally, I used Steenbergs organic Fairtrade vanilla extract)
1 tsp natural almond extract (once again, I used Steenbergs natural almond extract)
6 large eggs, at room temperature and whisked gently

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.  Take a 23cm cake tin and lightly oil the tin, removing any excess oil then line the base with baking paper.

Sieve together the baking powder, plain flour and sea salt in a mixing bowl.

Separately, put the caster sugar, marzipan, ground almonds and a tablespoon of the plain flour into a food processor.  Grind the mixture until the almond has become finer and the marzipan is broken up further, so that it is all a fine breadcrumb texture.

Add the unsalted butter, pure vanilla extract and natural almond extract and process until fluffy.

Pouring Eggs Into Batter For Almond Cake

Pouring Eggs Into Batter For Almond Cake

Add the blended eggs in stages – firstly add about a quarter and blitz until blended in then add a tablespoon of plain flour and mix, then add the next quarter, blend and add next tablespoon of plain  flour and so on.  Add the remaining plain flour and pulse a couple of times until it has just mixed together.

Pour the batter into the cake tin, scraping it all in.  Put cake mix into the oven and bake for 65 minutes or until the cake is brown on the top and set in the middle.

Almond Cake

Almond Cake

When you remove it, run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, then leave to rest and cool completely in the tin.  Then remove the cake from the cake tin, take off the baking parchment on the base and dust with icing sugar, should you so wish.

A Slice Of Home Made Almond Cake

A Slice Of Home Made Almond Cake

Steenbergs As Recommended On Delia Online

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Steenbergs Home Bakery range has been recommended on Delia Online as a Good Buy today which is pretty nice really:

Recipe for Simnel Cake

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Today is Mother’s Day and what a glorious sunny, Spring day it has been.  We gave Sophie a gorgeous bouquet of flowers – white roses, lilies and greenery – and went to church for a Mothers’ Day Service, a bit of a rarity for me.  I liked the sentiment which was that mother’s always have time for a smile for their children however exasperating, painful and annoying we can all be.  So thank you Mothers and Mums everywhere for being so tolerant, caring and loving.

Traditionally in Britain, today the fourth Sunday on Lent was the first day that girls in service at the big, posh houses of the gentry were allowed to go home and see their Mothers – this is back in the 17th and 18th centuries.  As such, they would bring home a demonstration of their skills learnt at their place of work – a rich and delicious fruit cake that became known as Simnel Cake. 

So today used to be called Simnel Sunday and then morphed into Mothering Sunday.  Originally, the cakes were decorated with 11 small paste balls, symbolising the 11 faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.  These cakes improved with eating and were best enjoyed at the end of the Lenten Fast or Lent and so they became associated with Easter to become the traditional Easter Cake.  Simnel Cakes are less often baked than a Christmas Cake but I feel they should be made as much of a tradition as the classic Christmas Cake.

Here’s how we made ours today:

Ingredients For Simnel Cake

Ingredients For Simnel Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

125g / 4oz butter
125g/ 4oz  dark brown muscovado sugar
3 free range organic eggs, beaten (they were discounted in Spar – bargain at 50p a half dozen)
150g / 5oz organic plain flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp organic Fairtrade mixed spice
350g / 12oz mixed organic raisins and sultanas (about 200g: 150g respectively)
50g / 2oz mixed chopped peel
Grated rind of lemon (I used orange today as I had no lemon and I am sure it will be fine)

For the marzipan or almond paste:

225g / 80z Fairtrade organic caster sugar
225g / 8oz organic ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon Steenbergs Natural Almond Extract

To glaze the cake

A little apricot jam
A little beaten egg (just cadge some from making the marzipan as you don’t need much)

Prepare an 18cm (7 inch) deep circular cake tin by greasing and lining the base and the sides

To make the marzipan, mix together the caster sugar, ground almonds, Steenbergs natural almond essence and beaten egg and knead with your hands to a smooth pliable mix.  If it feels too gooey, just add a bit more almond and knead some more.  Roll out a third of the marzipan  – almond paste – into a circle and set aside.  Reserve the remainder for topping the cooked cake.

Mixing Up The Marzipan Or Almond Paste

Mixing Up The Marzipan Or Almond Paste

Now put the oven on and preheat to 140oC / 275oF.

To make the cake, cream the butter and muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs a little at a time.  Sieve together the plain flour, sea salt and Steenbergs mixed spice together and add to the mixture alternately with the dried fruit, mixed peel and grated rind, mixing all the ingredients together.

Put half the mixture into the cake tin, then smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste.  Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top, hollowing out a small hole in the centre.  Bake in the oven for 1½ hours.

When the cake has cooled, brush the top with apricot jam.  Now put the oven on and preheat to 180oC / 350oF.  Then with the reserved marzipan, roll 11 small balls (for the good disciples and definitely smaller than the massive balls that I made) and then roll out the rest of the almond paste over the top of the cake.  Now place the almond paste balls evenly around the edge of the cake.  Return the cake to the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the paste has gone slightly brown.

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

We then put some coloured speckled Easter eggs in the centre.  leave for a couple of weeks to mature and then eat and enjoy.

Recipe For Egg Free Marzipan And Baking For Christmas Fairs

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

It’s the time of the School Christmas Fairs, Nativity Plays and Carol Concerts and we are always being tapped for products or being asked to do some baking. 

But one of the problems we have always had is that, firstly, Christmas is our busiest part of the year for Steenbergs Organic in terms of order volume, and secondly, the fairs etc seem always to be mid-week.  But as both Sophie and I are working baking mid-week is almost impossible beyond the odd cake or biscuit.

As I discussed in an earlier blog, I have been experimenting with sweet making instead of baking.  Sweets last longer and can be made at the weekend and children (and adults) possibly prefer sweets to baked goods!

I have devised my own egg-free marzipan which we have coated in delicious dark El Rey 61% chocolate from Venezuela, as well as moulding chocolate into santa shapes, snowmen shapes and christmas bauble shapes; we used El Rey chocolate for all these – the dark one, a milk one and a white chocolate.  We have dipped brazil nuts in dark chocolate and milk chocolate.  We have also made milk chocolate circles and sprinkled them with mixed chop nuts and some sultanas.

These have then been bagged up into some polythene bags and then put into some nice Christmassy small bags for sale.  As always, the amount of effort, cost of materials and packaging never quite add up to the sales price, but you cannot be an accountant about everything in life.

Christmas sweets and shortbread snowman

Christmas sweets and shortbread snowman

This morning I have also started my token bit of baking – some shortbread snowmen, using a mould that we got at Lakeland.

So I’ve done my duty and I can go and listen to the school carol concert today in Ripon Cathedral with a clear conscience.

For those who are interested, the marzipan I made is a variation on something I found on the web.  I am going to keep my recipe a secret but heres the one from the Internet: 

350g/ ½lb organic ground almonds
350g/ ½lb organic icing sugar
4tbsp water
2tsp Steenbergs natural almond extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and knead dough until smooth.  Sprinkle some icing sugar on a baking board, roll flat and then cut into shapes – I made round balls and simple rectangles.

Recipe For Sweets At Christmas Fairs

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Inspired by marzipanning the Christmas cake yesterday and acutely aware of the looming Christmas Fair after the Carol Concert at our children’s school, I decided to experiment with some sweet making this morning.  Also, chidhood memories of Niederegger marzipan may have played on my psyche.

I think we’ll look at making fudge and peppermint mice – I’ve already talked about the recipes for these on a previous blog: see

We used a slightly different marzipan recipe to the one from yesterday as I wanted something less rich and a bit drier.  I also beefed up the almond flavour with some of our very own Steenbergs natural almond extract.


350g/12oz   Ground almonds, delumped using your fingers
175g /6oz   Icing sugar, sieved
175g/6oz   Caster sugar
1½tsp  Lemon juice
¼tsp Steenbergs natural almond extract
1 Free range egg, lightly beaten

Put the ground almonds and sugars together in a mixing bowl, then make a hole in the centre.  Add the lemon juice, natural almond extract and beaten eggs into the hole.  Mix it all together – I use my hands for this, massaging it all together into a smooth paste.   When it has all mixed into a ball, put it onto a lightly iced board.

Now, you can do as you wish.  For this experimentation, I simply rolled small amounts into smooth balls; it’s probably about 1tsp for each ball, but you just need to break it off the main ball with the tips of your fingers.  We then dropped some of the balls into cocoa which is nice and easy, but the children were not sure about the mix of the bitterness of the cocoa and the sweetness of the marzipan; I actually quite liked it.

Coating marzipan in dark chocolate

Coating marzipan in dark chocolate

For the remainder, I melted two 150g bars of dark Green & Black’s chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  We then dipped the balls into the melted chocolate and using a toothpick scooped them out and left them to dry on some baking parchment.

You probably only need 200g of chocolate as we had some left over and poured this into some chocolate moulds that we have to make some chocolates.  The dark chocolate worked really well against the sweetness of the marzipan, but milk chocolate would work better for individual chocolates.  I think we will also look at getting some brazil nuts and coat those in chocolate, as well as some white chocolate to play with the colours a bit.  This could really be quite fun; really messy fun.

A selection of homemade sweets

A selection of homemade sweets

We also experimented using the marzipan with trying to make mice shapes.  We shaped the marzipan into a thick oval, teased out the end to make a nose and pinched up two small bits to make the ears.  Then we stuck on some pink coloured balls for the eyes.  We will either use string or find some edible shoelace to make the tails when we use the peppermint cream mix to make the actual ones.

Everyone’s got involved in some capacity, particularly scoffing the sweets down!

I have ordered some little gold truffle boxes to put them and they have Merry Christmas printed on them.

Recipe – Making Your Own Christmas Pudding

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

We have had a brief hiatus from Christmas preparations with Halloween and Bonfire Night, but this weekend I’ve got back to the task of preparing for Christmas.  This weekend was the turn of the pudding.

I started making my own Christmas puddings several years ago as an experiment and you know what – it’s way better than the things that you get from the shops.   It also gives you a great sense of achievement.  It does takes ages to steam though.  Also, the recipe does make masses of Christmas pudding, but then we usually make two and give one away to great friends of ours, the McMurrays.

I like to be a bit nerdy with the stout or beer that I use.  I like to find something a bit special, slightly quirky.  This year I have used Titanic Stout from the Potteries, brewed at the Titanic Micro-brewery run by Dave and Keith Bott in Burslem Stoke-on-Trent.  It is the CAMRA Champion Bottled Beer of Britain for 2009.  Titanic Stout is full-tasting and full of character, with a roasted grain, coffee, licquorice and tangy hop resin aromas.

Some of the ingredients for Christmas pudding

Some of the ingredients for Christmas pudding

Another great thing about using beer rather than the brandy that most chefs use is that (and anyone who’s done the maths will see where I’m going) you’ve bought a 500ml bottle of gorgeous beer but only need 150ml, so in the best “waste not want not” attitude I think I better enjoy the rest of the beer myself!

This year I am also reviving an old tradition and have stuck some Christmas favours into the Christmas pudding.  Silver charms were popular in the past, with the traditional shapes like a boot (for travel), ring (for marriage), a button (lucky for men) or silver sixpences for general good fortune.  To stop them tainting the pudding, I have wrapped the coin tightly in baking paper.

The recipe I’ve got down below is an evolving recipe.  I think that my original recipe came from  a Keith Floyd book, but I’ve looked back at his books and I must have changed it a heck of a lot over the years as it bears no relation to his recipes anymore.

That’s one of the things I love about real cooking – you start with the germ of an idea (either from a book, something your mum does or just something that seems to fit with the ingredients you’ve got in front of you) and then you play with it, changing ingredients for those that you’ve actually got in the cupboard or just because they seem to have the right taste, then (when it works) you’ve got your own recipe.  I guess what I mean is don’t be beholden to a recipe book, you’re your own best cook – experiment and play and the more enjoyment you have in doing the experimentation the more happiness will flow into your food.


This recipe does 2 x 1.2 litre puddings, so if you want only the one pudding, simply halve the quantities.

25og/ 9oz vegetarian suet (you can use Atora if you want)
350g/ 12oz sultanas
350g/ 12oz raisins
250g/ 8oz currants
50g/ 2oz almonds
100g/ 4oz mixed peel (I use Crazy Jacks)
75g/ 3oz glace cherries, snipped with scissors (use Crazy Jacks as it includes no horrible added colours)
75g/ 3oz crystallised or stem ginger, snipped with scissors
350g/ 12oz Fairtrade dark Barbados sugar, such as Traidcraft Muscovado
2 grated eating apples
250g/ 9oz fresh white breadcrumbs
175g/ 6oz plain flour, sieved (we use Sunflours who are a fab local hand miller of flours)
1tsp Steenbergs organic Fairtrade mixed spice
1tsp Steenbergs nutmeg powder
½tsp fleur de sel
6 free-range organic eggs
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1tsp Steenbergs natural almond extract
150ml/ ¼ pint pint stout

DSC_0719_edited-1Toast the almonds in an oven for 5 minutes or so. Mix all dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs; add lemon, orange, Steenbergs almond extract and stout. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in all other ingredients and stir thoroughly.

Now make a wish! Cover and leave somewhere cool overnight.

Turn into greased basins, cover with butter papers and a double layer of cloth.   Sneak a silver coin into the mixture; I wrapped a cleaned 20p or 50p piece in some baking paper and push it into the mix.  Tie securely with string going right round the bottom of the bowl to make a strong handle to lift the bowl.

The Christmas pudding all wrapped and ready for 7 hours of steaming!

The Christmas pudding all wrapped and ready for 7 hours of steaming!

Steam for about 7 hours.

On Christmas Day, steam again for about 1½ hours or until heated right through.

To flame the Christmas pudding, place the cooked pudding on a plate with a decent curve.  Then warm 2 – 3 tablespooons of brandy or whisky (I use whisky) without boiling.  Pour over the Christmas pudding then set alight with a match, being very careful not to set yourself alight!  I am sure there was a useful purpose for the flaming ritual but nowadays it’s just for the flamboyant show.

Steenbergs is product of the day at Woman & Home

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Steenbergs Home Baking range of organic extracts, including organic Fairtrade vanilla extract and our natural almond extract, is featured as the product of the day at Woman & Home today.

Take a look at:

Not bad, eh.

Recipes: Macaroons – part 3

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

This is the final recipe that I think is worth using for macaroons.  It came from a Women’s Institute charity cookbook.  It came with a tale that the word “macaroon” stems from the Greek makaria which means happy, and was introduce by the Greek to Naples in the 10th Century and around 600 years later came to England.DSC_3136

Ingredients for 20 macaroons

125g    ground almonds
225g    caster sugar
25g      brown rice flour
1tsp    Steenbergs almond extract
2          egg whites, stiffly whisked
Split blanched almonds
Rice paper, or non-stick baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 180oC

Use a metal spoon carefully to fold the ground almonds, caster sugar and rice flour into the stiffly whisked egg whites.  Then fold in the Steenbergs natural almond extract.

Line some baking trays with rice paper and spoon small scoops of the mixture onto the rice paper, leaving plenty of space for each to spread out.

Put a split almond on top of each macaroon and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cut the excess rice paper from the base of each macaroon and leave to cool on a wire rack.