Friday, 14 December 2012

Part 1: Christmas at Bentovention

Hello all! We're are getting truly into the Christmas spirit here at Bentovention House. Although a couple of trays of mince pies have been baked earlier in December, I have waited until now to start cooking in preparation for parties and the Christmas week. Although my Christmas pudding is always made well in advance (see my previous post for a picture), I leave the baking of the Christmas cake until the week before Christmas. That is because I really don't like a heavy fruit cake so I bake a light fruit cake similar to a simnel cake instead. With more cake and less fruit in its anatomy, it won't keep for as long as a dense fruit cake. I will be baking the simnel-Christmas cake next week and posting up a recipe and pictures on here to share. In the mean time, here are some other Christmas recipes I have veganised and put my own interpretation on. 

Vegan Treacle Mincemeat

I used to put vegetable suet in my mincemeat, but I don't any more. I didn't find the suet added flavour, but it certainly added calories and fat. If the mincemeat is cooked then certainly the suet would act as a preservative and also bind the mixture together, but there is so much sugar content in this recipe that I wouldn't bother worrying whether anything will start living in it!

500g of fat, juicy raisins
300g of chopped glace' cherries
200g of mixed candied peel
200g of black treacle
200g of golden syrup
1 jar of orange marmalade with shreds.

Throw it all into a bowl and mix it until you have a dark, sticky, delicious mess. Jar it up in a sterilised jar (I do mine in the oven for twenty minutes on a medium heat), then use when required.

Vegan Devil's Food Cake

For anyone like me that isn't overly fond of fruit cakes, the white iced chocolate cake is a nice festive  alternative. I came up with this veganised recipe for Devil's Food Cake yesterday so that my daughter will have a yummy dessert to share with her friends at the Christmas party she is having tonight.

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
175g of boiling water
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g of dark chocolate
125g of dairy free spread (I use 'Pure')
350g of caster sugar
4 tablespoons of oil (I use walnut oil, any type is fine)
300g of plain flour
200ml of rice or soy milk

For the frosting:
250g of dairy free spread
500g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
(blend into a paste, adding more spread/icing sugar than the recipe suggests if you don't get the thick creamy consistency you expect. There are no hard and fast rules on how much to use.)

I used some chopped dairy free white chocolate buttons for the top. I think some grated dark chocolate would do just as nicely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put the cocoa into a heat proof bowl and mix into a paste with the boiling water. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and blend well. Set aside to cool.

Break up the chocolate into another heat proof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Put the soft spread into a mixing bowl and beat until very soft, then beat in the sugar until completely blended. Fold in the flour in three batches, along with the oil. Mix well.

Add the cocoa liquid into the melted chocolate and mix together. Fold in the chocolate mixture into the cake batter thoroughly until there are no streaks.

Divide the mixture between two cake pans and bake for about thirty minutes until risen and firm.

Decorate when completely cooled.

And finally, just a little update about the sloe gin I mentioned in my last post. I have now decanted it back into the original gin bottle ready for Christmas. I couldn't help having a little sample to make sure it was okay. It is unbelievably delicious. Shop bought slow gin usually tastes like pure sugar syrup and is thick and sickly. This home made batch has a sweetness to it, but retains a slightly tart aftertaste. It is absolutely perfect. Making sloe gin has been an all 'round success, from the wonderful afternoon I spent hunting sloes with my dear friend and my children, to the anticipation of it while it quietly did its thing in the cool, dark of my cupboard, and now this delicious prize at the end of it all.  I am pleased as punch.

Keep a look out next week for the second instalment of Christmas at Bentovention when I will show you my take on a Christmas cake and fill you in on any other treats I've made in the mean time.


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