One thing that I really miss these days, with not having a large family around, and being so far away from the family we do have . . . is all the baking at Christmas time. I always used to do lots of it. I'd start back in October and by the time Christmas rolled around the freezer would be filled with lovely treats and goodies.
There is just Todd and I now . . . and we can only eat so much. I shouldn't really be eating it at all . . . and in all honesty, as thin as he is, neither should Todd. I do love to bake though, and I especialy love it at Christmas.
The solution is to make lots of goodies to gift our friends and neighbours with. Everyone wins!
I get the joy of baking. Todd and I each get a little taste. Our friends get a little bonus, which is especially welcome at this time of year and to be honest . . . I've never had anyone turn any of it down yet!
These are lovely little loaves that make beautiful gifts. You don't have to use Cranberry Sauce if you don't want to. They also work out beautifully with other flavoured jams . . . such as black current, or raspberry . . . strawberry is especially nice. Apricot, cherry or peach jams are also quite lovely!
You get a nice and moist cake . . . with the added pleasure of sweet fruit and crunchy nuts running through it and on top . . . and a sweet drizzle glaze is it's crowning glory.
Pretty to look at too. You can buy small cardboard loaf pans, just right for gifting at Lakeland. I chose the other day to make a small one for us and a larger one to give away . . . It was most welcome.
*Cranberry Pecan Loaves*
Makes 4 mini loaves for gifts (5 3/4 by 3 inch mini loaf pans)
or two medium loaves (8 by 4 inch pans)
Tender and moist and filled with the flavours of cranberry and toasted nuts!
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter, softened
7 ounces caster sugar (1 cup)
2 large free range eggs
8.5 ounces plain flour (2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces of sour cream (1 cup)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 ounces of cranberry sauce (2 cups)
3.75 ounces toasted pecans, chopped coarsely
Almond Cream Glaze (see below)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/ 350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter the loaf tins and line with parchment paper. Butter again.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the extracts.
Spoon about 4 ounces of batter into each loaf pan. (1/2 cup) Top with 3 TBS of cranberry sauce, spreading lightly to the edges. Sprinkle with 2 TBS of pecans. Repeat the layers in each pan, using the rest of the batter, cranberry sauce and nuts.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing from the pans and cooling completely. Drizzle the cooled cakes with the Almond Cream Glaze. Allow to set before wrapping for gift giving.
*Almond cream Glaze*
6 ounces of icing sugar (3/4 cup)
2 TBS whipping cream
1/2 tsp almond extract.
Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth and drizzable, adding more cream if necessary.
On a funny side note - these are the loaves that almost weren't!! I took them out of the oven and set them on top of the stove while I wemt to get my cooling rack out. I also had a pot of water on to boil. The flames under the pot of water lit the baking parchment, which was hanging over the ends of the loaf tins on fire. A little bit of dancing and a lot of shouting ensued, and my hero had to come in and put it out . . . all without damaging the cakes!
Whew! Crisis averted!!!! Just goes to show though how just a little thoughtlessness can create a lot of havoc in a kitchen . . . even in The English Kitchen!
Note in answer to reply from E-mail. Unfortunately I am unable to reply because of some technicological reason. ??? (Computers!!)
Hi Melanie. Many thanks for your e-mail, your lovely comments re The English Kitchen and the nod to your friend. Have looked at her page and it's fab!! Nows for your question. You can make Yoghurt cheese as long as the yoghurt you are using doesn't have any gelatin in it. Just line a strainer with a coffee filter or some paper toweling, place over a bowl, and then dump your yoghurt into the lined strainer. ( If you use nonfat yoghurt, then you end up with a very low fat mixture) Cover tightly with cling film and place in the fridge for about 12 hours, discarding any liquid that drains off the yoghurt (called the Whey) every so often, so that the yoghurt doesn't end up sitting back in it. (Not a problem if you use a deep bowl)
Here's a good recipe for a filling using about 8 quarts of yoghurt that you have done this with. (just use your favourite cheesecake crust mixture to line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.) Beat the yoghurt cheese together with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 3 medium eggs. Whisk in 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp lemon zest. Pour this into your prepared crust (whichever kind of crust you like) and then bake it in a 450*F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250*F and bake for about an hour or until set. The centre should barely jiggle when you shake the pan. Cool slightly, then refrigerate for several hours before serving. You can cut this into slices. It is enough to make a 9 inch cheesecake. (spring form pan) I loosen it a bit by running a thin sharp knife around the edges before undoing the spring.
I hope this helps! Let me know how you make out!