These little almond and fruit cakes were made using the cranberries left in the bottom of the bag after making the Christmas cranberry chutney.
I've been baking these in the run up to Christmas since I came across the recipe in a magazine (Country Living, I think) in 2009. I'd needed something to serve with coffee when I was about to be visited by a couple of friends whilst I was convalescing and luckily had all the ingredients to hand. We all agreed they were delicious, slightly chewy little morsels and I've made at least one batch during Advent each year since.
They're easily and quickly mixed but they can be a bit tricky to remove from the baking tray. You could use fairy cake liners if you're not confident that your tray is non stick although these cakes don't rise much so you'd probably want to discard the cake cases after they've cooled.
The recipe makes 12.
Little cranberry almond cakes
1 oz plain flour, sifted
2 ozs ground almonds
31/2 ozsicing sugar, sifted
3 medium egg whites (I've used 2 large when I didn't have medium sized eggs handy)
1/2 tsp almond extract
21/2 ozs butter, melted
2 ozs dried cranberries
Thoroughly grease a 12 hole fairy cake or rounded mince pie baking tray.
Combine the flour, ground almonds and icing sugar in a bowl.
Add the egg whites and almond extract and whisk to blend. Mix in the melted butter.
Reserve about 24 of the cranberries to scatter a couple on top of each cake before baking (I forgot to do that with the cakes in the picture and just chucked them all in) and add the remainder to the mixture.
Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for about 15 mins.
Pre heat oven to 200C fan/220C/gas 7.
Spoon a generous dessertspoonful of the mixture into each of the cake moulds and scatter a couple of the remaining cranberries on top of each one.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cakes are firm to the touch and golden brown.
Allow to cool slightly in the tray then remove carefully and transfer to a cooling rack to get cold.
* Another window opened on the Advent calendar. As I took the picture, I realised I'd opened today's yesterday and vice versa.
* This morning, I took my car to the garage for its annual service. They weren't expecting me. I was a day late.
* Gillian's Christmas cranberry chutney was so easily made and so delicious last year I decided to mix up another batch whilst waiting at home for the call to say the car was ready for collection (yes, they managed to find a slot in today's schedule).
The recipe made enough to almost fill two jars.
This will be a very tasty addition to the Christmas buffet table.
These perfect-with-an-afternoon-cuppa baked treats are often associated with Betty's (I wouldn't dream of visiting Northallerton, York or Harrogate without buying a couple to bring home) who this year celebrated 30 years of baking them with their trademark cherry and nut faces. But they have a much longer history, particularly with my home area here in the north east.
We called them 'fatty cakes' when I was growing up, though they were less like scones and more a cross between pastry and a biscuit. In those days, people often resorted to the quick and cheap version utilising basic shortcrust left over from making whichever pie. This was rolled into a rectangle, sprinkled with sugar and currants, folded in half, cut into rounds (or simply left as a large rectangle like my dad used to do) and baked. There was even a little rhyme we used to sing as kids: 'If you have the bellyache, rub it with a fatty cake'.*
I still make them that way every now and again but thought I'd push the boat out and attempt a batch Betty's-style using an egg enriched dough and with the addition of spice, cherries and almonds.
Fat rascals are deliciously filling and really don't need any accompaniment. I know some people treat them like scones, splitting and spreading with butter and jam, but round these parts we prefer them as they are. It goes without saying that they're best eaten on the day they're baked and ideally whilst still warm.
There are numerous recipes out there but I used this one.
* Health warning:There is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that rubbing the abdomen with a big fat scone is an effective treatment for stomach discomfort and pain. And it's a waste of a big fat scone.
Making soup. This one was spicy sweet potato, coconut and lime, enjoyed with a still warm cheese scone.
Making another blanket. The usual round after round, large granny square. I don't seem to be able to manage anything different. A bit like the Mary Jane baby booties I've been working on. Seems I can't knit one for the left foot. Now, what to do with the three right ones I've produced?
Thinking about Christmas shopping. The Girlie and I met up in York at the weekend with the aim of making a start. In truth, very little progress was made (I blame the wet weather and frequent stops for shelter/coffee) but a long natter over a late lunch (homity pie for me, mushroom burger for the Girlie) in Goji was thoroughly enjoyed.
Savouring gingerbread lattes. For me, this drink just shouts autumn, especially when topped with white moustache inducing whipped cream and a little gingerbread boy. So far, I've knocked back three.
Knitting potential stocking fillers. Washcloths, copying Gillian at Tales from a Happy House, using this pattern and intended to be paired with posh soaps. I don't think I've ever given a handmade Christmas present. Actually, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to give these less than perfect examples.
Choosing the winter book pile. When I was younger, I used to love matching what I was eating or drinking with whatever the characters were munching or guzzling. It helped that we lived in a shop in those days, with a range of food and drink to hand. Fortunately, my parents were far too busy to notice I was nibbling their profits as I attempted to enhance my reading experience.
I don't go to such lengths these days but I do enjoy matching the setting of the novels with the time of year I read them. Some of these are old favourites. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to find myself inhaling a batch of this when I re-visit Narnia.