Monday, 5 December 2011

Make a Christmas Cake

Everything's ready it's time to bake a most spectacular Christmas cake
Currants, raisins, sugar and spice will make it ever so nice
Cherries and nuts and almond paste,
These will give it a Christmas taste,
Everyone in the family must stir it twice!

A simple song I learned when I did my teaching practice several years ago and I always remember it when we make ours.  Boy and I have done this together for the last three years, since he was 2 years old.  I use a recipe which is a slight adaptation of Delia Smith's Rich Fruit Cake recipe from her excellent book 'Complete Cookery Course.'  Here's the recipe:

800g mixed dried fruit and peel
50g glace cherries (rinsed and chopped)
3 tablespoons brandy (optional - you can use cold tea if you prefer)
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
225g butter
225g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
50g chopped almonds
1 dessert spoon black treacle
grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon

The day before, weigh out all the fruit and mix in the brandy.  Allow to soak overnight.  Grease and line an 20cm round cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar by beating together until light and fluffy.
Then add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture well.
Then once all the eggs have been added you can fold in the flour, salt and spices a few spoonfuls at a time.
Then you can add all the remaining ingredients and mix gently.  Then spoon into the tin.
You will need to protect the cake with a strip of brown paper or newspaper round the outside of the tin and then some paper over the top with a small hole to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the oven at 140 degrees/Gas 1 for between 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours until the cake is a deep brown colour and is cooked through.
Once it is cooler you can take it out of the tin and let it cool completely.  Then wrap it in layers of greaseproof paper and tin foil and put it in the cupboard for a few weeks to mature before you decorate it.  Another post in a couple of week to show you how we decorate ours.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Frosty Paper Plates

Boy had a day at home on Wed and we decided not to waste the day.  He spent 1 1/2 hours decorating paper plates with a winter theme.  Girl joined in too, as did I.  I put a selection of cookie cutters in wintery shapes out along with blue and white paints, glitter paint, and some bubble wrap for printing with.
Girl enjoyed sploshing paint and glitter all over her plates.  Boy went for more sophisticated designs using the cutters.  He put down layers of blue paint and glitter and then used the cutters to put white shapes over the top.
Then he filled in the shapes with paint.
Some good painting and fine motor skills developing here.  The bubble wrap was fun to print with and made a lovely snowy effect against a blue background.
These would look lovely hung up somewhere as Christmas decorations.
As the activity went on we talked about wintery weather, ice and snow.  Later on we read 'The Gruffalo's Child' and boy read one of his reading books called 'The Snowman' from the Biff, Chip and Kipper series.  We played some more with our snow dough (will post about that at a later date).