Friday, 30 November 2012

Scottish Black Bun

This stuff is the mack daddy of christmas cakes. It is the fruit cake all other fruit cakes wish they could be. As the name suggests this is one serious fruit cake - a black, fruit dense filling encased with short pastry.
It looks kinda like a pie until you cut it open to reveal the intense black fruit filling.

Unfortunately i can't show you a picture of the inside as it needs to mature for a few weeks to really develop the flavours. But i found this one online which shows you what it will look like.

Pretty impressive isn't it? A similar texture and flavour to traditional christmas pudding. If you're a fruit cake lover you will love this cake. You need to make this cake!

Black Bun

2 1/2 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
150g butter

3/4C flour
1/2 teaspoon (t) nutmeg
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t mixed spice
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 C brown sugar
3 2/3 C raisins
1 1/2 C sultanas
2 1/3 C currants
1/2 C mixed peel
2/3 C chopped almonds
2 t grated lemon rind
2 eggs
2 T brandy
3 T treacle
2 T milk

Make the pastry by combining the flour, baking powder and butter in the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg and mix until the mixture forms a soft dough ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge.

In the meantime in a bowl coat the dried fruit in the flour ( this stops the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake). Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Yum looks good doesn't it?

Take the wrapped dough out the fridge and cut into 3 pieces. Line a cake tin with baking paper and roll out the 1st piece of dough to fit into the base of the tin. Then roll out the second piece into a long strip to form the sides of the cake. With your fingers press the dough together where the sides and base meet,

Pour the filling into the pastry lined cake tin.

Top with the last piece of rolled pastry and with your fingers press the edges of the cake together so the sides are well sealed with the top. Prick the top with a fork.

 Then brush the top of the cake with egg white and bake in the oven at 150 degrees C for 2- 2 1/2 hrs until the cake is golden brown.

I hope you will give this one a go. It is a real star and lasts for months if stored in a cool dry place.
Feeling festive yet?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin- boiled christmas pudding

I love christmas time and i take a rather traditional approach to baking in the festive season. Christmas puddings, fruit cake and christmas tarts are always on my favourites list. In truth though with so much on at christmas i don't always bake my own, particularly christmas puddings. But after many years of buying them i thought it would be nice to try making my own. I'm lucky these days to have a good relationship with a local butcher who was able to supply me with some suet as well.

Christmas pudding making was a bit of a family event this year with my mum visiting and compulsory help from my little man.

Cohen is my expert stirrer and dried fruit tester. This kid loves dried fruit so he was in heaven making this pudding.

The batter came together quickly.

It was a bit more liquid than i expected but it turned out fine in the end.

Pouring the batter into calico cloth and tying up the ends.

Then into the pot for boiling. The spoon stops it from sitting on the bottom of the pot and i placed a plate underneath to prevent this as well.

Then i covered up the pot and bubble, bubble, bubble off it boiled for a few hours.

All cooked and ready for hanging in a cool, dry place until christmas. I'm also going to 'feed' the pudding with a little brandy every few days for a little extra christmassyness - it's a word, really it is..... after plenty of brandy soaked pudding anything counts as a real word.

Traditional christmas pudding

1 1/2C flour
1 C suet
1 C breadcrumbs
1 C raisins
1 C sultanas
1 C mixed peel
1/4 pound glace cherries
1/4 pound almonds (i used ground almond as it's all i had)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 t baking soda
1 C golden syrup
1/2 C brown sugar
1 large egg
1 C milk
150ml brandy
grated rind of 1 orange ( i used 1 T orange juice)

Mix everything together. Boil in a pudding cloth for 4-5 hrs. Done. Store in a cool, dry place until christmas, feeding 2-3 times a week with a little brandy. On the day of serving either boil or steam for 30mins - 1 hr until piping hot. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

yummy stuff

So now we wait for the big reveal on the 16th at an early family christmas dinner. I'm hoping to do the whole deal with the pudding and make some brandy butter and light the pudding on fire too. I'll let you know how i get on! I hope you're all starting to feel a little christmassy out there too.

On another note my christmas ornament for Christina Lowry designs ornament swap  is in the post today. I hope the recipient likes it!

Take care people

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Fudge handbags

A snippet from our craft group last week - We were lucky enough to have a cake decorating demonstration here last night. Or in this case a fudge decorating lesson. My good friend Trisha kindly came along and taught us all how to make these gorgeous little fudge hand bags. The basic shape was cut out of fudge and then covered with fondant and decorated to our own creative designs.

Aren't they lovely? We have some very creative talent in our little group. Wouldn't these be perfect gifts for the tweens in our lives?

So many cool christmas gift ideas, so little time......
More gift ideas will be coming your way this week, i have been very busy!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Christmas decoration swap

I just wanted to share what i was up to today. I'm working on something a little different to my usual at the moment for my christmas ornament swap with Christina Lowry designs.

I'm really enjoying working with colours and styles i wouldn't usually and i'm very proud of how it's turning out. I hope the recipient enjoys it too!

Quick chicken pie for low energy days

Low energy weeks call for low energy meals and this is one of my favorites. Quick chicken pie is a great way to use up leftovers, quick to throw together, kid friendly and can be a meal in one.

Quick chicken pie

Pre-made savoury short pastry (mine was even pre-rolled which made it super fast.)
approx 2C shredded cooked chicken
250g tub sour cream
2 Tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, sage or tarragon are all delicious)
1 C cooked veges - carrots, pumpkin, kumara, beans, anything you have really.
1/2 onion, chopped finely
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C
Grease a pie dish and line it with the pastry.
In a bowl mix together all remaining ingredients.
Pour into pastry lined dish.
Top with pastry as desired, i usually do but ran out of pastry that night.
Heat in oven until pastry is cooked - about 25-30mins.

Eat on it's on or with a fresh salad.

It's also a nice comforting meal for when the weather is a bit cold and you need a bit of nourishing. 
I hope you'll give this one a go i'm sure it will become a firm family favorite.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I am laying low here at the moment with little baking or sewing to mention. Just a few more cm on my knitting to keep me going. This year has been the sickest one i can remember with bugs in the house every few weeks since before i can recall. Everything just feels a little worn out, a little harder, a little more tiring. I always thought i had the immune system of a horse being a nurse for a number of years. I always dodged the bugs.
But the first year of my little man's life has proven tough on the immune system for him as well as me. Leaving us all a little run down and tired.
The last few weeks i've felt the need not to craft or cook too much and rest a little more. It seems the right thing for the moment.
So while the body rests, the mind plans - christmas puddings, decorations, new quilts and maybe some hand sewn pieces this summer.  I'll be back soon when a little of the regular energy returns.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin - Bara brith

Bara brith is a traditional welsh fruit loaf and although you may not recognise the name you may well know the loa if you try it. It's a heavy fruit loaf made with dried fruit soaked overnight in strong tea. I have fond memories of my grandmother making a very similar recipe.

 I tried this recipe here and found it had a delicious favour, especially warm with a spread of butter. It was a surprisingly thick dough and i had to mix it by hand before putting in the loaf tin. Also i wouldn't cook it for so long next time as it came out a bit dry. I'd start checking it at about 1 1/4 hrs.

Hope everyone is having a great week, i'm off to start my christmas preparations.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

New addition

The newest addition to the family sleeps all the time, eats nothing and sits around looking adorable or slightly creepy depending on the angle.

Polly the possum hand puppet! Very craft geek i know, and i just love it. Can't wait to see my little one's reaction to it in the morning. A big thanks to my hand model for the improvised 'action' shots, must get all the personalities of Polly. Now what to make next..... Off to find a new project.