Cakes We Eat at Christmas
by Florence B. Jack
Good Housekeeping December 1922
Christmas comes but once a year, and when it comes it brings – cakes. Cakes large and cakes small, cakes ethereal and cakes substantial, cakes hidden by delicate pink or white icing, and cakes left exactly as they come from the oven with their rich brown crust unadorned.
It is best to have some very good flour for the Christmas cakes, and while you are going in for a bit of extravagance just make the cakes of butter instead of any of the excellent butter substitutes now on the market, for butter has a flavour of its own that is hard to equal.
As a Fruit Cake has already been given in the April issue of Good Housekeeping, here is one of a rather different character, which is well known across the Tweed.
To make a small cake take 6 oz. flour, 2 oz. rice flour, 4 oz. butter, 2 oz. castor sugar, and flavouring.
Pass the flour, rice flour, and sugar through a sieve into a basin. Add a few drops of vanilla or other flavouring, and rub in the butter with the tips of the fingers until free from lumps. Then knead all together with the hand until a smooth and pliable dough is formed. If the butter is hard, the basin in which the kneading is done may be slightly warmed, but the dough must on no account be made oily. Turn on to a floured board and flatten out into a smooth round cake about ¾ inch in thickness. It may then be finished off in either of the two following ways:
(1) Crimp evenly round the edges with the thumb and finger, or with a pastry pincher, and lay the shortbread on a slightly greased baking-tin. Prick the top with a fork or pastry dabber, right through to the tin, and decorate with thin strips of candied peel or some sugar comfits.
(2) Or, use a wooden moulding block, one 7 inches in diameter (inner measurement) will suit the above quantities. Dust the mould over with rice flour, press the dough into it, and smooth over with the hand. Then turn out on a greased tin and finish as above.
A child can make a shortbread, but the baking requires care. It is quite a good plan to let the cake stand for some time, and even overnight, before putting it in the oven. If it is thoroughly chilled it is more likely to keep its shape. Then bake in a moderate oven, about 300F / 150C / Gas Mark 2 from 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned and firm to the touch. If necessary cover with paper to prevent burning. when sufficiently browned dry off in a cool part of the oven to make the cake crisp. Then cool on the tin, and if the shortbread has to be kept, wrap it in paper, and store in a tin box with tight-fitting lid. If a larger shortbread is required, double or treble all the above ingredients and make the cake thicker in proportion.
The shortbread adapts itself very well to decoration, and at Christmas-time it is very usual to write on it some friendly greeting. To a little sieved icing sugar add some lemon juice to flavour, and enough white of egg to form a softish paste. Beat until perfectly smooth. Put this into a forcing bag with a small plain tube, or a paper cornet will serve the purpose, and use for writing the words you wish. By using more ornamental tubes further decoration may be forced out on the shortbread. Artificial leaves and flowers may also be utilised to make the cake more festive.
is a glorified form of shortbread. It is made with the following ingredients-
¾ lb. flour, ¼ lb. rice flour, ½ lb. butter, ¼ lb. castor sugar, 2 oz. sweet almonds, 2 oz. candied orange peel, and 3 or 4 drops vanilla essence.
Blanch and chop the almonds, and chop the peel very finely. Warm the butter slightly and beat it to a cream. Add to it all the other ingredients, and knead into one lump with the hands. This may take some time, but no liquid must be added. Form into a round cake, ¾ inch in thickness, prick with a fork and tie a double band of paper round it. Bake in a moderate oven from 1 to 1.5 hours, then remove the paper and cool on the tin. This cake is generally left unadorned. Break it in pieces when required.
A Children’s Christmas Cake
This is a layer cake with a simple icing, which may safely be given to even the tiny tots.
Cake Mixture: 9 oz. flour, 6 oz. butter, 6 oz. sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 teaspoonful baking-powder, and the grated rind of ½ lemon.
Layer Mixture: 2 oz. butter, 1/4 lb. confectioner’s sugar, strawberry or other flavouring, and a few drops carmine.
Icing: ½ lb. confectioner’s sugar, milk, vanilla.
To make the cake, put the butter into a basin, sieve the sugar on the top, and beat these together with a wooden spoon until of a soft creamy consistency. If the butter is very hard the basin may be warmed slightly. Add the grated lemon rind, one egg, and a little of the flour, which has been sifted. Beat well for a few minutes. Then add the second egg and a little more flour, and so on, repeating the process until all the flour and eggs have been added.
Beat all together for about ten minutes, lifting the mixture well up in the spoon, in order to introduce air, and add the baking-powder at the last. Pour the mixture into a cake-tin that has been lined with greased paper and bake in a moderate oven about 1½ hours, or until the cake is well risen and feels firm to the touch. Turn out, and cool on a sieve or wire stand.
To make the layer mixture, beat the butter to a cream, sieve the flower and work it in gradually. Then flavour and colour to taste. Put this aside to chill before using it.
When the cake is cold cut it in three or four slices, spread each piece with the above mixture and put them together again. Trim off the top of the cake and turn it upside down ready for the icing. To make the icing, sieve the sugar into a basin and add sufficient milk to make a mixture that will spread evenly on the cake. Spread on with a knife and leave to set.
The decoration of the cake is very much a matter of fancy. Many suitable toys can be picked up -in the Christmas bazaars, and there are sweets and fondants of all kinds to please the little ones. The cake illustrated has a border of fondants of different colours, while a snowman, two little dolls, and a small black dog adorn the centre. These can be fixed in position by using some of the icing. Finish off with a paper frill tied round the sides.
Brandy or Ginger Snaps
are old-fashioned favourites which” might well be revived. They are easy to make and more easily eaten.
Put ¼ lb. flour and ¼ lb. sugar into a basin and rub in 3 oz. butter with the tips of the fingers. Add ¼ teaspoonful ground ginger, a few drops of vanilla, and a dessertspoonful of brandy if desired. · Moisten with ¼ lb. syrup and mix well. Form the paste into small balls the size of a marble, and place them on a greased baking-tin, allowing plenty of room between them. Bake in a moderate oven until brown and spread out as thin as a wafer. Cool for 2 minutes, then remove from the tin with a knife and twist round a wooden roller, or over small cornet- shaped moulds. Remove when cold, and the snaps are dry and crisp. This quantity should make about twenty. They are better eaten fresh, but can be kept for a day in a tin box.
A dainty sweet may be made by filling the wafers with whipped cream just before serving.
are also suitable for Christmas as they contain ” sugar and spice and all things nice.”
(1) Pastry : ½ lb. flour, ¼ lb. butter, 2 oz. sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoonful
baking-powder, and a little milk.
(2) Filling: 3 oz butter, 3 oz sugar, 3 oz flour, 2 oz currants, 2. oz. candied peel, 2 oz. sweet almonds, 1 teaspoonful spice, I teaspoonful baking-powder, and 3 eggs.
First make the pastry by sieving the dry ingredients into a basin and rubbing in the butter until free from lumps. Then moisten with a beaten egg and enough water to form a stiffish paste. Knead on a floured board until free from cracks, roll out very thinly, and cut in two pieces. Grease a flat baking tin with a narrow edge and line it with one of these pieces of pastry. To make the mixture-put the sugar, flour, spice, and baking-powder into a basin, add the currants well cleaned, the almonds blanched and chopped, and the peel finely shredded. Mix together, moisten with the butter melted and the eggs well beaten. Mix again and then spread over the lined tin. Cover with the second piece of pastry, wetting the edges to make it stick. Prick all over with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a quick oven until brown and crisp. Cool in the tin, and cut in squares.
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