This blog is for English actress, cakemaker and writer Jane Asher, with many pictures and accurate information of one of the most beautiful rock muses from the 20th century.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas cakes, 1994

On December 1994 it was published the "Jane Asher's Christmas Special" magazine. And the following 3 cakes were included in the section "Creative Cakes".

Serves: 25-30 portions
Cooking time: 2-2 ½ hours

25cm/10in square cake tin (double-lined with parchment paper)
450g/1lb currants
450g/1l sultanas
175g/6oz mixed peel
175g/6oz raisins
175/6oz glacé cherries
175ml/6fl oz brandy
175ml/6fl oz orange juice
450g/1lb butter
450g/1l dark soft brown sugar
8 eggs
450g/1lb plain flour
125g/4oz ground almonds
125g/4oz flaked almonds
4 tsp mixed spice
grafted rind and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon

1 - Mix the dried fruit and glacé cherries and soak overnight in the brandy and orange juice.
2 - Cream together the butter and sugar, mix in the eggs and flour. Add the fruit and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
3 - Transfer into the cake tin and bake at 150ºC (300ºF/Gas 2) for 2-2 ½ hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.


25cm/10in quare fruit cake
6 tbsp boiled apricot jam
1.25kg/2½lb marzipan
icing sugar for kneading
1.5kg/3lb roll-out icing
1 quantity Royal Icing
caster sugar or edible glitter
food colouring in the following colours: black, blueberry, red, green, pink, violet

1 - Cut a 7.5cm/3in wide strip off one side of the cake. Position a sharp knife 7.5cm/3in from the back of the larger cake and cut a wedge to the front bottom edge. Take the top wedge off, turn it over and place on top of the lower wedge. Take the leftover 7.5cm/3in strip and place behind the top wedge. trim to the same size. Brush all over with the apricot jam.
2 - Knead the marzipan with the icing sugar and roll it out to about 3mm/1/8in and lay over the cake. fit it carefully into the corners of the cake and trim off any excess.
3 - Next, knead 2½lb of the white roll-out icing with icing sugar and roll out. Brush over the marzipan with a little water and lay the icing over the cake. Smooth over with the palm of your hand and trim off any excess.
4 - Using a palette knife, spread the Royal Icing over the cake. 'Peak' the icing with the end of the palette knife to achieve the 'snow' effect. With a wide paintbrush and the blue food coluring mixed with water, brush streaks onto the slope. Sprinkle all over with the caster sugar (or glitter).
5 - Colour 175g/6oz of the remaining roll-out icing black, and model the penguins, using cone shapes for the bodies, and balls for the heads. Roll out thin circles of white icing and stick them onto the penguins' bellies. Make the wings from flattened cones of black icing and stick them onto the penguins. Stick on flattened balls of white icing for the eyes. Paint the eyes oun with a fine paintbrush and black food colour. Knead small amounts of red, pink, green and violet icing, and model hats and scarves. Stick the penguins onto the cake with a little water.


25cm/10in square fruit cake
450g/1lb icing sugar
1 tsp grum tragancanth
2 tsp powdered gelatine
5 tsp cold water
5 tsp white fat (not lard)
2 tsp liquid glucose
1 egg white
6 tbsp boiled apricot jam
1.25g/2½lb roll-out icing
comflour for dusting
½ quantity of Royal Icing
food colouring in the following colours: red, dark brown, holly green, gooseberry, yellow, gold
dusting powder in yellow and green
cutters - holly cutters, large 5-petal blossom cutter, medium ivy cutter, mini blossom cutter
baking parchment
piping nozzles - nos. 1, 3 and 57
small rolling pin and board
ball tool

1 - To make the petal paste, sift the icing sugar and gum tragacanth into a bowl and stand it over hot water. Dissolve gelatine in cold water in a cup, and stand in a pan of hot water. Add the white fat and glucose and beat gently until dissolved. Pour over the egg white and add to the warmed icing. The mixture should now be beaten in a mixer with a strong attachment on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes elastic. Hand beating will need 5-10 minutes. Leave the paste in a plastic bag in the frigde for about 30 minutes before using. 
2 - Brush the cake with boiled apricot jam. Knead marzipan with icing sugar, roll out and cover the cake, smoothing over with the palm of your hand. Knead the roll-out icing with icing sugar and roll out. Brush the cake with a little water and cover the cake and the board, trim off any excess and reserve.
3 - Using the rolling pin and board, roll out a piece of the petal paste very thinly and cut out three large 5-petal flowers. Dust your fingers and hands with cornflour. Place the blossoms, one at a time, on the palm of your hand, and thin the edges with the larger end of the ball tool. Leave to dry in a mould, made from tin foil and shaped into a shallow cup. Cut out 20 mini blossoms and leave to dry.
4 - Knead 75g/3oz of the petal paste with holly green food colouring. Roll out thinly and cut out 50 of each size of holly leaf and lave to dry. Knead gooseberry food colour into a small amount of petal paste until it is a pale green. Roll out thinli and cut out 20-30 pieces of various sized ivy. When dry, paint the centres with gooseberry fro a two-tone ivy effect. Make four cones, about 13mm/½in high and place on cocktail sticks.
5 - Make several parchment piping bags. Cut a 25cm/10in square out of parchment paper, fold in half diagonally. Roll up the triangle into a cone shape, holding the inner edges firmly with your thumb and fingers. Fold back the corners and secure firmly with a paper clip or staple. Snip the end off the bag and drop in your piping nozzle.
6 - Mix 2 tablespoons of Royal Icing with dark brown colouring, and using a no. 57 tube, pipe the pine cones. Leave to dry. From roll-out icing, cut out several parcel shapes and paint your chosen pattern on them.
7 - Dust the centre of the large flowers with yellow and green dusting powders and make a centre of pale yellow petal paste. Arrange the flowers, leaves, cones and parcels on the top of the cake, sticking them down with a little Royal Icing.
8 - Pipe a thick line of icing in a downwards curve on each side of the cake. Stick on holly leaves, overlaping each one slightly. Model four bows from roll-out icing, stick on with a little water, and when dry, paint gold. Mix 1 tbsp of Royal Icing with red food colour, and with the no. 1 tube, pipe berries and inscription. pipe a no. 3 shell around the base of the cake.


This delicious, moist chocolate cake makes a lovely change from a traditional, rich fruit cake at Christmas.

Serves 8-10

6 eggs, size 2
155g/5oz butter
185g/6oz caster sugar
125g/4oz dark chocolate
155g/5oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
For the icing
250g/8oz chocolate buttercream made with 90g/3oz butter and 185g/6oz icing sugar
250g/8oz dark chocolate
90ml/3fl oz double cream
handful of small raisins or currants
90g/3oz roll-out icing

1 - Grease and flour two halves of a 20cm/8in diameter spherical cake mould or two 625ml/20fl oz pudding basins. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas 4).
2 - Separate the eggs. Place utter and 125g/4oz of the sugar in a bowl and cream together. Beat egg yolks, one at a time.
3 - Break up the chocolate, place in a heatproof bowl and melt over a saucepart of hot water. Alternatively, melt chocolate in microwave on full powe for 1-2 minutes. Add chocolate to sugar and egg mixture.
4 - Whisk egg whites until light and fluffy, then fold in remaining sugar. Sift flour and beaking powder together, then carefully fold into chocolate mixture, alternating spoonfuld of flour ad meringue.
5 - Pour cake mixture into mould or pudding basins. Bake in two separate halves for about 30 minutes until firm to the touch.
6 - Allow cakes to cool, then turn out and trim flat surfaces level. Spread halves with buttercream then join together. If using basins, trim to a round shape with a sharp, serrated knife. cover cake all over with a thin layer of buttercream. Put cake in refrigerator and allow to set for 30 minutes.    
7 - Meanwhile, melt the chocolate as in step 3. in a small saucepan, bring cream to boiling point. Stir into melted chocolate. Place cake on a cooling rack over a baking tray, spread with chocolate mixture. Press a few raisins or currants into chocolate before it sets. Transfer cake to a cake board, coated in roll-out icing.
8 - Roll out the roll-out icing on a surface dusted with icing sugar, keeping back a small amount for the holly. Cut 'cream' shape out of the icing and press on top of the cake. Colour most of the remaining icing green and a small aount red. Roll and cut out holly leaves from the green icing using a cutter or sharp knife. Roll small pieces of red icing for berries. Stick on top the cream with water.  

Credit: Jane Asher's Recipe and photographs taken from Favourite Christmas Recipes by Joanna Farrow, published by Merehurst, price £ 6.99.

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