I love a good Christmas fruitcake, which makes me deeply uncool, right? Wrong, stooges! Let me be clear though, I’m talking about my Christmas cake – a lighter, tastier, more-sponge-less-fruit Christmas cake.

I’m not going to be shy about this one – the recipe is utter genius, and every fruitcake-hater I’ve ever tried it out on concedes that it’s good. It has beautiful plump pieces of easily identifiable delicious dried fruits, not miscellaneous clumps of bitter, black-coloured maybe-raisins and something-like-sultanas that stick to your fillings and make your jaw ache.

Some traditions are sacred though. I do like it with a bit of rustic marzipan icing on top, and I insist on a dusting of icing sugar and a selection of random plastic Christmas figurines to jazz it up – I’ve got a Santa, half a sleigh, some trees and a deer. Failing that, you can use a good Royal icing like on Jamie Magazine’s gluten-free cake to make a snow-scape on the top.

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Baking preserved fruit into a cake is said to have originated around the Twelfth night celebration. This is the night before the last day of Christmas celebrations according to the Christian faith, and often a “Twelfth cake” was made to celebrate, incorporating any leftover Christmas pudding into the cake mix. Over time, as exotic fruits became more readily available, fruit cakes became more elaborate and often used as table centerpieces, with their decorations becoming more glamorous – think sugar-frosted whole fruits and satin ribbons.

Historically throughout Europe, dried fruit has been used in many bakes, not just Christmas cakes – for example German stollen or Italian panforte could be described as versions of a cake with added candied fruit. In the Caribbean, black cake is a still popular cake made with dried fruit soaked in rum, often over a long period of time, making for a really dark, rich and heavy cake. Mine’s not quite as intense as this – in fact it could really be called “Fruitcake for sissies” – but when it tastes this good who cares?

Merry Christmas from Bee’s bakery!

Bee’s unbelievable Christmas cake recipe

First, some tips:

  1. This recipe is really forgiving, so choose fruits that you love, as the final cake will still be a cracker! Go heavy on the apricots and cherries if you want a lighter, fresher-tasting cake, or go heavy on the figs and prunes if you fancy a rich, darker cake.
  2. Leave enough time to soak your fruits overnight before making and baking – it makes all the difference.
  3. Store your fruitcake wrapped in parchment and then foil – it’ll keep for around six weeks in a clean tin.
  4. Don’t feel you need to feed your cake with alcohol – by pre-soaking the fruit and choosing lighter and more flavoursome fruits, there’s no need to add extra the booze, in my opinion.

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons of liquid – for example a mixture of orange and cranberry juice, cool black earl grey tea or if you’re super keen, brandy or another spirit
  • 900g dried fancy fruits like apricots, dates figs, prunes, glacé cherries, dried blueberries, and candied peel, chopped into 1cm pieces.
  • 500g of your choice of dried vine fruits like blackcurrants, raisins, sultanas (those giant California flame raisins are great) or cranberries – lots of different colours are greatThe zest and juice of a large orange
and a big lemon
  • 350g soft butter, at room temperature
  • 300g of soft brown sugar – a combination of light brown and darker muscovado works well –again, use more of the former if you want a light sponge, and more of the latter if you want a bit more colour.
  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g shelled and roughly chopped nuts – I especially love pecans, but hazelnuts or almonds are good too, and less expensive.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 350g plain flour (a mixture of white and wholemeal is great)

The night before you bake your cake, warm your liquid by simmering in a small pan (do not boil it), then pour over all of your dried fruit and zest in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and leave to cool and soak overnight – your fruit will be juicy and plump in the morning – perfect for baking. Leave your butter out of the fridge overnight too, to soften up.

On the day, pre-heat your oven to 160°C/325°F and double-line a round 20cm baking tin with parchment, leaving a couple of cm sticking out of the top. Combine your soft butter with the sugars in a food mixer or, if you’re working on toning up your biceps, go for it by mixing by hand in a large bowl. Cream until a light fluffy mixture forms – it’ll be lighter in colour than what you started with – the fluffier the better.

Crack in the eggs one at a time, with a little spoonful of the almonds each time to stop the mixture curdling. Once combined, add in the flour, baking powder and the remainder of the ground almonds, plus the nuts, and mix until just combined. Then add in the pre-soaked fruit – there shouldn’t be much liquid left at the bottom of the bowl, but do add in any dribbles that are left. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is combined.

Pour the mixture into your cake tin until it’s 3/4 full and ensure the top of the mix is flat, so you get a nice evenly-topped cake. Depending on your mix you might have lots left over, so just make another smaller cake or lots of little Christmas cupcakes.

Bake for one hour, then turn the cake around (in case your oven has any hot spots), reduce the temperature to 150ºC/300ºF and bake for another hour. Check the cake to see whether it’s done by inserting a skewer or the tip of a thin-bladed knife – when its done, there might be a couple of crumbs sticking to the knife, but there should be no raw mixture. It might need up to another 30 minutes depending on your mixture.

Leave the cake to cool inside the tin so that it keeps its shape, and when ready to serve, either dust a little bit of icing sugar on the top, or cover in marzipan and decorate however you like best! It also keeps really well, so I tend to bake my Christmas cake in early December before things go completely mad at the Bakery with Christmas orders.

Hello everybody!

I was asked to write a recipe or four by the Jamie Oliver gang, on the subject of a healthier type of baking…lower in sugar, no animal products and tasty as you like.

I adapted a recipe from my forthcoming book Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits for this – it uses oats and applesauce as its base ingredients and is totally vegan with no added sugar.

Here’s a snippet from the recipe, full instructions are here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/oaty-cookies-one-dough-four-ways/

Photography by James Lyndsay, styling by Elspeth Meston…nice work guys!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 13.44.19  Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.54.04

Yes, I’m a baker, so  it stands to reason that I don’t have too much of a problem cooking with sugar, butter and gluten most of the time. However, if I can bake something delicious and full of energy that just so happens to NOT contain these things, I consider it a win all round!

We bake lots of different recipes at Bee’s Bakery,  including gluten-free, vegan or more health-conscious bakes. These oaty cookies are just the sort of baking I like to do when I’m making something for health-conscious friends, or with kids, or even when it’s just me at home. It’s important for me to have a reasonably healthy diet at home, to make up for all the broken biscuits I eat at work!

The recipe is adapted from my first recipe book, Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits, which is out early in 2016 and contains plenty of other vegan and health-conscious recipes, too.
Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/oaty-cookies-one-dough-four-ways/#t31DX3jYXtwUi3aX.99

 

 

 

Hello all!

I’ve blown it and given away too much…. my 7 tips for baking superfly biscuits are on Jamie Oliver’s website, so now my trade secrets are OUT!

Here are the first three tips, for the rest, you’ll have to visit: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/7-tips-for-brilliant-homemade-biscuits/#CUv70Ig9x1DGuM73.97

 

biscuits

I may be slightly biased, having built a business around biscuits, but lets face it: cookies and biscuits are everything that trendy cupcakes are not.

Anyone worth their baking salt can knock out a cutesy frosted cupcake these days, and that’s cool with me. Cupcakes have their place. To stand out from the crowd, however, you need to splash out for fancy kit and ingredients, pile them high with sugary decorations and, even after all this, they let you down with their short shelf life.

None of this can be said about biscuits and cookies – these babies are quicker, easier, and more versatile than their cakey cousins. Biscuits have short bake times, last for a comparatively long time, and any leftovers – whether baked or still in dough-form – can be frozen and cooked later. In other words, biscuits are total winners.

Baking your own basic biscuits and cookies is easy-peasy, but take on board some of my top tips and you’ll be fast-tracked to biscuit baking brilliance.

1. Use your hands

Get some baking biceps! Don’t cheat with a mixer – engage your abs and arm muscles. You’re going to have a few extra calories to burn off, after all!

2. Know when to stop

Don’t overwork yourself, or your dough. Too much kneading and re-rolling of your dough will result in cracked and misshapen cookies. To avoid this, always cut as many cookies from the first and second rollout of dough as possible, and consider freezing your third rollout before baking.

3. Roll evenly

Turn your dough as you roll, or roll in different directions, to ensure that you’re accounting for any different pressure points and achieve a nice even dough height.

Read more: at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/7-tips-for-brilliant-homemade-biscuits/#uBTTjAEhuy0RXYrW.99

 

 

 

 

I’ve written an article for Jamie Oliver with some top tips for getting the best out of baking your own hot cross buns!

hot cross buns

Below are some snippets from the article, the full one is available at: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/homemade-hot-cross-buns/#dVDwEUpgQPQFt8T1.97

According to ancient superstition, baking your own hot cross buns on Good Friday will help you win friends, influence people, protect against kitchen fires, and guarantee that all bread baked in your kitchen turns out perfectly.

It’s not as though we should need to be persuaded to tackle a bake like the hot cross bun (the home bakers’ “challenging-but-achievable” holy grail), but if I did then the list above would swing it for me every time.

There are tonnes of stories, superstitions, fables, bits of folklore and even a well-known song about hot cross buns, but my favourite part of their history is a certain decree passed by Queen Elizabeth in the 1500’s. Lizzie said that bakers could only sell hot cross buns on Good Friday and Christmas, which led to good home-bakers (and those who had enough money to buy in the spices and rich ingredients needed) to covertly bake them at home, and risk full-batch confiscation if busted by the hot cross bun cops…

Tips for perfect hot cross buns

  • Use your baking muscles when making hot cross buns – no cheating with a dough hook on a mixer!  Use your hands when mixing ingredients and engage your tummy muscles when kneading – I guarantee you’ll end up with a warm glow, a bit of a sweaty brow and you’ll absolutely deserve the treat of a hot bun fresh out of the oven.
  • When your dough is rising, sit the baking tray on top of a big bowl of hot water, so the steam and heat will transfer to the dough and it’ll rise a bit quicker
  • Try splitting your dough into two and using currants in one and cranberries in the other, or even dried cherries for a bit of a change
  • To avoid dry buns, soak your dried fruit for about half an hour in hot water – this’ll make them swell and keep your buns satisfyingly plump for longer
  • Try a few different recipes for the cross on top – some people use a standard water and flour bun wash, but you can also try a line of thinly rolled marzipan, or a little dotted line of candied peel, raisins or even poppy or chia seeds for a bit of a change
  • Play around with different spices, such as cardamom or saffron, if you have some in the back of your cupboard
  • Freeze any spare baked buns you have leftover – they’ll make a brilliant last minute treat if defrosted and toasted later in the year
  • Finally, if you forget about your buns and they go a bit stale, consider baking a brilliant hot cross bun-stylee bread and butter pudding

Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/homemade-hot-cross-buns/#m5z9ezZ8RI93oSz5.99

 

Hey! Its only a few weeks until Christmas…the perfect time of year to bake your CHristmas cake, and here’s the perfect recipe – its just been published on Jamie Oliver’s website, full link below…but here’s a tiny snippet and a pic to whet your appetite.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/perfect-christmas-cake-recipe/

Bake love, Bee xx

CHRISMAS CAKE 2

From Jamie Oliver.com:

“I love a good Christmas fruitcake, which makes me deeply uncool, right? Wrong, stooges! Let me be clear though, I’m talking about my Christmas cake – a lighter, tastier, more-sponge-less-fruit Christmas cake…”

Full recipe here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/perfect-christmas-cake-recipe/

Hey! Its only a few weeks until Christmas…the perfect time of year to bake your CHristmas cake, and here’s the perfect recipe – its just been published on Jamie Oliver’s website, full link below…but here’s a tiny snippet and a pic to whet your appetite.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/perfect-christmas-cake-recipe/

Bake love, Bee xx

CHRISMAS CAKE 2

From Jamie Oliver.com:

“I love a good Christmas fruitcake, which makes me deeply uncool, right? Wrong, stooges! Let me be clear though, I’m talking about my Christmas cake – a lighter, tastier, more-sponge-less-fruit Christmas cake…”

Full recipe here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/perfect-christmas-cake-recipe/

And they also included details of our until-now **TOP SECRET** Jammie recipe – link to the full article below.

Jamie Jammies

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/bees-bakerys-jammie-biscuits-recipe/

If you don’t fancy the shortbread faff, you can either grab hold of our Jammies at the Notting Hill branch of Recipease, or online at www.etsy.com/beebakery where we have lots of personalised options available to order…Bee xx

 

Jamie Oliver has these amazing stores called Recipease – where you can eat, learn how to cook and get a hold of loads of cool equipment, and also, now, the best cookies in town!

There are branches in Notting Hill and Clapham, here are some pictures so you can recognise them from afar and pile through the doors super easy 😉

recipease

 

Notting Hill Gate:

recipease

Clapham Junction:

CLP