Vegan Mulled Wine and Brandy-Caramelised Walnut Cakes (for Nicky and Holly)

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Vegan cakes

I made delicious smoking bishop mulled wine last night, so am once again blessed with about a kilo of boozy clementines.  I amheading to Manchester tomorrow to stay with a lovely vegan friend and meet up with another, so decided to pester another friend – joolzrainbow.wordpress.com – for advice about egg substitutes to cakify some of the fruit for them.  I love cooking savoury meals for vegans because they are such cheap dates, and so easily impressed with anything cooked for them that isn’t chili or curry, but have previously had disappointing results with began baking.

These worked beautifully. They are deliciously fragrant with a very light, moist texture.  The lightness is definitely due to the baking powder and bicarb, but the salty, chalky flavour they can impart is completely masked by the intensity fruit and spices.  The texture is more like a very light spionge pudding than a cake, but they certainly don’t feel or taste lacking in any way.

I’ve been effectively vegetarian for brief period of my life – once for a bet, more often for convenience – but I could NEVER be vegan.  I’d sooner be celibate than cheeseless.

Brandy- caramelised Walnuts

24 walnut halves 

2 heaped dessertspoons of dark muscovado sugar

a good glug of cheap brandy

Mulled Wine Cakes

(makes 24 small cakes)

250g squishey, winey citrus fruits

250g soft brown sugar

250g coconut oil

half a nutmeg, grated

a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger

6 tablespoons of soya milk

3 teaspoons of cider vinegar

50g good quality glace citrus peel or the zest of an orange

350g plain flour

a heaped teaspoon each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda

First, smoke your bishop (see last Christmas for details) or use your preferred method for mulling wine with citrus fruits.  If you’ve made smoking bishop, the fruits will be lovely and tender, otherwise you may need to simmer them till they are tender, or put them in a medium oven for twenty minutes or so. Let them cool before proceeding.

Preheat your oven to 180.   Put the fruit, sugar, oil (microwave it for ten to 20 seconds if it is very hard, and check the label very carefully if your coconut oil is in a similar jar to your goose fat), soya milk, vinegar and spices into a bowl.  Blitz them together for a few seconds with a hand blender on a medium speed setting.  If you don’t have such a thing, you could chop the fruit very very finely and blend the ingredients by hand.  Stir in the peel or zest.  Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarb and beat thoroughly.  Put a heaped dessert-spoonful in each case, then stir with a skewer to even up and flatten the mixture.

Dot a walnut half on the top of each. If your kitchen is very cold the caramel in the pan may harden too much to shift the walnuts; if so simply warm it on a low heat for a second and they will budge.  Bake for twenty minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.   I have only just made them, but suspect they will be better tomorrow than today, and am sure they would freeze beautifully.  Microwaved for thirty seconds and smothered with cream, ice cream or custard they would make a delicious dessert.  Obviously, I mean vegan cream, ice cream or custard.

Spicy Pumpkin Gingerbread

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I have tried pumpkin pie several times and even had it a couple of times in its native country.  I’ve never liked it much.  Like that other American staple, carrot cake, it seems a testament to the fact that there were precious few indigenous fruits to be had in the early days of colonialism.  At least carrots are sweet and juicy.  Pumpkin is as hard to cut as parsnip, as sweatily bland as swede, and has a cloying claggy texture when cooked.  In a pie it needs pretty much candying with sugar and smothering with cinnamon to be palatable.

The lovely art teacher at my current school brought a pumpkin in to carve for one of our current projects.  I got the contents to cook.  I normally just treat it as a vegetable and turn it into garlicky mash with other root vegetables, but I needed to turn it into something cakey to feed to my colleagues. What I made was halfway between parkin and ginger cake, and was lovely and rich and sticky, despite having significantly less sugar and a higher fibre and  mineral content than most sweet pumpkin recipes.  My colleagues scoffed it very happily.

Spicy Pumpkin Gingerbread  (Pumparkin)

Preheat the oven to 150.

1. In your main mixing bowl blend:   10 oz plain flour, 4 oz oatbran, two heaped  tsps ground ginger and one of  cinnamon, half a grated nutmeg and a level teaspoon of baking powder.

2. In a microwaveable bowl place:  4 oz dark brown sugar,  4 oz butter, 4 oz black treacle and blitz them on full power for a minute. You can faff about warming the treacle tin in a pan of water to make it easier to measure, but I just tip it from a height, and eat any that sticks to the edge of the tin, then wipe it with clean damp cloth.  Some recipes require you to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved into the other ingredients, but this isn’t one of them.  You just need to make it easily blendable.

3. Then add:  6oz spiced pumpkin sludge (see below), 6oz mixed dried fruit, zest of two lemons (or other citrus), grated ginger the size of your thumb to the microwaved mixture.  I used a piece the size of my thumb, but I have hands like tiny monkeys paws – I seldom teach 11 year olds with smaller hands than me – so if you are a banana-fisted giant, exercise discretion or just make it really gingery.  The dried fruit are an important ingredient for sweetness, texture and depth of flavour. If you are cooking for a tiresome fusspot someone like my lovely friend, Heeno, who doesn’t like them, blitz the fruit into the pumpkin mixture with a hand blender and don’t tell them it contains any.

4. Blend the contents of the second bowl thoroughly into the  first.  Then put two large eggs into the emptied bowl and beat them well,  then thoroughly beat them  into the rest of the mixture.

5. Pour into a well buttered large shallow square dish and bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 mins.  You might need an hour with a smaller dish or  slower oven.  It looks a very wet mixture, but the oatbran absorbs a lot of the moisture.

 

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Like most gingerbread and parkin recipes, it is always best made a day ahead so the top gets properly sticky overnight. You can see the stickiness of the top in the photo above.  The stripes are from the cake being flipped upside down onto the cooling rack and left  for a few minutes before I turned it right way up.

Vegan Version

Use vegan spread in place of the butter and use a large, very ripe and very well mashed banana, and the juice of two lemons,  to replace the eggs.  Lower the temp to 13o and cook for an hour or a little longer.  You’ll get a breadier, denser texture than the regular version.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Sludge

1. Roughly chop  two kilos or so of pumpkin innards and stir in a heaped dessertspoon of ground ginger and one of cinnamon. Put them in a well-buttered baking dish,  and roast for twenty minutes at 200.

2. Pour it into a shallow saucepan, blitz it with a hand blender and heat it gently, stirring constantly as it steams, until you have about half the original volume.

The stirring is a bit a tiresome, frankly, but it makes the mixture much more versatile.   You can just  omit stage one and heat it in the pan, but you will need more butter – and more stirring – and it won’t taste as good.  The initial roasting brings out what little natural sweetness the pesky vegetable contains, and roasting with the spices adds a rich, earthy depth that offsets the armpittiness of the pumpkin.  It freezes very well, and could be mixed with apples in a pie very well, or used in place of apples in a cake recipe.   You can also spread it on toast. Or add a little honey and use it as baby food.

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A Surfeit of Golden Plums

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I’d love to claim that these gorgeous little beauties came from my own tree, or from local foraging, but they actually came from the little poundoscoop stall outside the newsagents in Twickenham. They were very ripe, deliciously sweet and clung to their stones like greengages do, so googling suggests they are actually Oullins Gages.   Plums as soft as that would be unpleasant, but gages are best when almost honey-runny. Over two kilos for a quid was a magnificent bargain.

Sunday’s tropical storm meant the weather started out chilly, dark and very, very damp. It was autumnal enough for us to want something hearty and warm instead of the light, salady meals we’ve been eating for the last month. So I sent the Idiot Boy out in the howling deluge to the small, expensive Tesco nearby, in the hope that they would have some pork belly to slow roast. They didn’t, so he came back with a guinea fowl, which meant I had to send him back out for a can of cider.

Pot Roast Guinea Fowl with Golden Plum Sauce

One guinea fowl; half a can of cider; a small onion; four large, ripe, yellow plums; a generous chunk of butter, a bay leaf; a sprig of sage; a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard; a chicken stock cube.

Preheat the oven to 180.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan and lightly brown the bird and put it in a deep casserole dish.  Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan, and cook till golden.  Chuck in the plums, whole, cook for a minute or so and then add the cider and crumble in the stock cube. Let it simmer for two or three minutes, then pour it over and around the bird, add the bayleaf and a couple of sage leaves (keep two)  cover with a lid (or thoroughly with foil if your lid won’t fit) and put in the bottom of the oven for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

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When it’s done, leave the bird in the casserole dish to keep warm and pour the cooking sauce into a small saucepan. Remember to remove the stones from the plums.   I forgot to do this, and as I then blitzed the sauce with a hand blender to make it smoother, I had to faff about straining it to get all the bits of stone out.   Add the mustard and the other two sage leaves, finely chopped, and let it reduce slightly.

We had the roughly dismembered bird and its fruity sauce with savoy cabbage and mushrooms that I had hoped to flavour with caraway, but I’d run out, so they got a mixture of black, pink and szechuan peppercorns roughly crushed over them instead.  We had some not-so-new potatoes that needed using up, but I think this would have worked best with some mash or big baked spud. The delicacy of the meat and the light fruitiness of the sauce meant that this satisfying hot dish still had a breath of summer about it. Later in the year the same technique  works well with purple plums and red wine and a gamier bird.

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Baked Plums with Cider and Vanilla

While the guinea fowl was cooking the rest of the plums went on the top shelf of the oven, in an open casserole dish, with the other half of the can of cider, a vanilla pod (from which I’d previously extracted the seeds), about a tablespoon of vanilla sugar and a couple of little knobs of butter. These fruits were ripe and strongly flavoured enough not to be swamped by the vanilla; it just intensified their sweetness so less sugar was needed.  You could use white wine or apple juice in place of the cider and cinnamon with Victoria or other dark plums.  They take 20 to 25 minutes to cook.

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A fusspot or Frenchman might want the skins removed, which is easy enough, but unnecessary, really, especially as the browner bits are lovely and caramelly.  I’d only bother skinning them if I was serving them to someone with dentures. They are best eaten eaten slightly warm – not hot – with clotted cream or ice cream, and will happily keep for a week in the fridge.They freeze very well, too.  They are lovely with custard, or with Greek yoghurt for breakfast, or served as a saucy partner to a chunk of good Wensleydale or Roquefort.

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Plumonade (and Gin)

The topmost photo shows how much lovely  juice the cooked plums produced.  I removed the fruits from the hot liquid and zested a lemon into it, followed by its juice.  Cooled and served over ice this makes a lovely sharp-sweet long drink. This is a another good reason for going easy on the sugar, as the juice is much more versatile if it isn’t too sweet; sugar or honey can always be added to the fruit later if your taste requires it.   All the alcohol has cooked off the fruit (probably) but you could still con your kids into thinking they were drinking something very grown up if you gave this to them.  It can also turn supermarket gin or white rum into a very good cocktail.   The juice from greengages cooked in this way with good quality perry, and spiced with a little elderflower cordial, is heavenly with gin.

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The Bishop: Smoked, Bashed, Bottled and Smeared on a Pudding

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Smoking Bishop is now my favourite mulled wine variant.  I made it for the first time for my party on the 29th and it was gorgeous; richy, dry, mellow, fruity.  It bears no resemblance to the jammy, Ribena-ish gloop you get in pubs and at Christmas markets. Dickens mentions it in A Christmas Carol, where the reformed and jolly Scrooge offers to take Bob Cratchit out for a celebratory bowl of it. Earlier in the novel poor old Bob, whose family have only three glasses between them, have some sort of heated gin, sugar and water concoction after their Christmas lunch.  Gin was cheap enough for  poor people, but port, the key ingredient in Smoking Bishop, was a gentleman’s drink.

Smoking Bishop

Ingredients: five oranges, four clementines, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of port, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, allspice – serves six to ten.

You need to prepare this the night before.  Forgetting this, until late in the evening before my gathering, meant I didn’t  have quite the right ingredients, so I substituted  four clementines for the two lemons that are more traditionally used.  You can use all lemons, in which case it is called ‘Oxford Bishop’ and is presumably a bit High Church tasting.   Bake your fruits in a medium oven until they are soft and slightly brown.  This took about 25 minutes for the clementines and 40 for the oranges, and made the flat smell gorgeously festive.  When they are done, stick three or four cloves in each and add them -and any juice that’s escaped from them – to a large saucepan into which you have poured the wine and the spices. I used a chopped ‘thumbtip’ chunk of ginger, the half dozen remaining allspice I had and three cinnamon sticks.  Squish them slightly to break the skins and let the juice and wine mingle, and then leave them overnight.  I defy you not to prod and sniff them at intervals, though.

When you are ready to swig your bishop, add the bottle of port and warm gently over a low heat, so that it never boils away the precious alcohol. I served this in little cups, with a sugar cube added to each for those who wanted it.  It is easily the best mulled wine I have ever had.

Bashed and Bottled Bishop

Ingredients: fruit from the above, juice of one lemon, half a pound of granulated sugar, one bottle of red wine, one tablespoon of muscovado sugar, two cinnamon sticks..

I loved nibbling on the bits of fruit that found their way into the last couple of cups of smoking bishop and found them delicious. There was no way I was simply going to throw them away unscoffed. So the next day I chucked another bottle of red wine on top, gave the fruit a good bashing, and warmed it gently back up.  I strained off half the warmed wine and drank it as a normal and perfectly good, dryish mulled wine.  I fished out, and roughly sliced, the fruit and returned it to the pot, to which I added the white and muscovado sugars, the lemon juice and cinnamon.  I let this simmer gently on a very low heat for thirty to forty minutes till the wine was reduced to a glossy syrup coating the fruit, and then decanted it into a oven-sterilised 2lb preserving jar.

I’d put up a photo, but it’s basically a big jar of dark, purple, winey, fragrant unphotogenic loveliness. It should keep very well, and be delicious spooned over ginger ice-cream, or with Greek yoghurt and cinnamon glazed walnuts, or with mascarpone as the filling for a Victoria sponge, or over a steamed pudding drenched in clotted cream.  This last option is what I did with the couple of spoonfuls that wouldn’t fit in the jar.

Instant Steamed Pudding with Added Bishop

Ingredients:  One dessertspoon each of soft butter and muscovado sugar, one medium egg, half a small, grated dessert apple, two dessertspoons of self- raising flour, a teaspoon or so of grated ginger, a pinch of salt.

This is the easiest, laziest and most puddingy instant pudding you can make. It entails fractionally more effort than a ready made one, with none of the wasteful packaging and ghastly additives. Eat it straight out of the bowl, with the spoon you stirred it with, and you’ll barely have any washing up.  You do need a large plastic bowl or tupperware container.  I used a two pint plastic mixing bowl this time, but have made this is in a grubby student kitchen with a carefully washed takeaway box (I could probably write an entire recipe book just for squalid stoners).  Do not attempt to do this in a china bowl, or it will be dried out at the top before it cooks properly at the bottom.

Put the sugar and butter in the bowl and beat thoroughly.   Beat in the egg, add the spices, apple and salt, then the flour.  You really don’t need to peel the apple or sift the flour.  Microwave on full power, for two and half minutes in a 800 watt machine.  I’d try two mins 50 seconds in a 750 and 3 full minutes in anything smaller.  The amount above will serve two easily, one greedily and three to four after a savoury meal.  Eat it straightaway, piping hot, as it becomes a little bit rubbery if it is allowed to cool, though you could make it in advance and warm it up again in the microwave, in pool of lovely, moistening custard.

Instead of the apple, you could use a whole fresh fig, half a ripe banana, a tablespoon of dried fruit softened for a minute in the microwave with fruit juice or wine, or a tablespoon of marmalade, mincemeat or jam. Or you can grate or chop about a tablespoon of chocolate into it, if you prefer.  You can use different sugar, but dark gives a much better result.  You can, of course, use different spices.

Happy New Year, intrepid Readers!

This Little Piggy Turkey Roll

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On Christmas Eve afternoon I did my traditional bargain-catching trawl of the nearest supermarkets.  The pickings weren’t spectacular, but I did score a turkey crown for just under a fiver that should have been nearly twenty.  I watched lovely Tom Kerridge’s Christmas special  and really liked the way he cooked a turkey roll in clingfilm, maximising the juiciness, so decided to do my own version for a buffet dinner party for friends last night. His was tidily butterflied and filled with a sausagemeat stuffing, but mine was inelegantly hacked off the bone and stuffed with as much pig as I could get into it.

I had a two kilo turkey crown, and stuffed it with: four good quality pork chipolatas, eight rashers of smoked back bacon, 100g sliced chorizo, 100g of good quality black pudding a finely chopped onion, two cloves of garlic, eight large finely chopped sage leaves, about a dessertspoon of chopped thyme, two tablespoons of chopped parsley, two teaspoons of english mustard, one egg and two cloves of garlic.   The ingredients were  simply chopped and mixed thoroughly in a bowl.

I lay the hacked off turkey meat on several layers of clingfilm, making a couple of cuts to sort of butterfly it.  I also had to patch some gaps between the two  breasts with some chunks off the thicker bits, to get a fairly even rectangle of meat.  I seasoned the meat well, slathered the stuffing on top of it and then carefully and tightly rolled it until it resembled a giant sweet in a wrapper.  It was at this point that I realised that I hadn’t got any string, of any kind, butcher’s or otherwise.  Once I’d finished swearing, I realised I could just twist up more clingfilm and use it like string.  I tied it round the centre first, and then put three more rounds either side of it.  It was not quite as neat and cylindrical as Mr K’s, but it did the job.

I cooked it at 70C for 50 mins, in a deep casserole dish with two inches of water in it, then rolled it over and gave it another fifty minutes.  I left it cooling in the pan for a good half hour before I served it, and it stayed pretty hot.  Cooking in this way does leave the meat a bit pale and flabby-looking, and the Tom Kerridge recipe I adapted has a big crunchy bread and fruit topping to glam it up.   I just topped it with home-made cranberry sauce and some posh, fluffy pork scratchings.   The photo above was taken by one of the guests, but this is my less expert photo of what it looked like finished:

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Bargain Bambi Backbone Christmas Decoration Casserole

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The London borough I live in, Richmond, is staggeringly posh and seemingly untroubled by austerity.  When the Idiot Boy was at the farmers’ market recently he saw kilo bags of venison bones for a quid fifty with a sign attached saying ‘good for stock or pet food’.  He told the stallholder, ‘Ooh, I’ll get some of those for my girlfriend. She’ll really like them.  Ummm, she is a human, by the way’.

The bones are vertebrae, and very meaty.  This is what they look like raw, rubbed with crushed garlic, wholegrain mustard and salt and pepper. Meat is muscle, and deer are very active creatures, so the white marbling you see isn’t fat, isn’t gristle.  These bones need slow cooking in liquid to tenderise the meat.

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I tossed them in flour, browned them off in a frying pan, fried a finely chopped tired brown onions in the same pan, added half a bottle of rough, cheap red wine (you could use better wine, or cider or stock) till it simmered and then chucked them in a casserole with two bay leaves, some parsley stalks and left them on a low heat for about three hours, poking occasionally to see if the meat was ready to leave the bones.

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You could stew the bones instead of casseroling them.  If you do, you can watch the tiny white strands of spinal cord shriveling up and sproinging out like little white worms to disintegrate in the liquor. This probably not a good idea if you or those you feed have a squeamish disposition.  Once the meat was tender, I strained off the liquid – removing the parsley and bay and squishing the soft onions through the strainer, and let the bones cool long enough to pick all the meat off. A kilo of bones yields about 250 – 300 grammes of lean, tender meat.

I put the meat and liquid back in the casserole dish and added two chopped small red onions, and a couple of courgettes and carrots, and put it back on a low heat, with the lid off, for another hour. You could easily feed four with this if you served it with  mash or baked potatoes  and some greens.  We had it unaccompanied for dinner, with enough left for a lunch for me.

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I’ve made this twice now, and cooked a third lot to use the meat in a game terrine.  Each time I have struck by the beauty of the shape of the bones, and the resemblance of some of them to the outline of a stag’s head and antlers.  So I decided to see if I could do something with them.  I boiled up the bones with a bottle of malt vinegar.  This, and cleaning glass is the only thing malt vinegar – or ‘Satan’s own piss’, as I prefer to call it –  is fit for. This opinion isn’t snobbery, exactly, because I am not a great fan of any vinegar, even the expensive posh stuff, and use it sparingly in my cooking.   God help anyone who dares put it on my chips. The vinegar is corrosive enough to remove all the soft tissue from the bones. So why, oh why, would you want to put it in your stomach?  This method of bone preparation, followed by a bit of rubbing with fine ash is how mediaeval fraudsters used to make ‘saints’ bones to flog to ambitious churchmen keen to raise the status of their churches, or those desperately seeking a magic talisman.

After boiling and drying there were a couple of rough bits of sinewy stuff still stuck on the bones, but these were easily removed with bit of sandpaper.   I recycled the stiff foil containers from some tealights and cut and pressed them into the holes so that they would retain small candles.  Then I sprayed them ‘antique gold’ and you can see the results above,   Not quite nose-to-tail and not all eating, but a better end for these bits of a beautiful beast than the bin, I think.

Merry Christmas!  And thank you, very much, for reading.

Easy Biscotti for Christmas Gifting (plus bonus ‘free’ ingredient recipe)

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Bagged BiscottiI like gnawing on biscotti. They give you all the sustained oral comfort of a Farley’s rusk, yet still have an air of continental sophistication.  They are very easy to make, and home made ones are much tastier and more fragrant than the ones you get in cafes, as unlike commercial bakeries, the home cook doesn’t have to stint on the most flavoursome ingredients.  They are a good biscuit to make with children, as there are no fiddly techniques (only a bit of firm slicing an adult would need to supervise), the dough is mixed and shaped by hand, and they are pretty foolproof. They would make a lovely present from a child to a grandparent.  They keep for a month or more in an airtight container, so you can post them overseas, too.

Ingredients:  400g plain flour, 250g sugar, 120g nuts, 120g dried fruit, 4 lightly beaten medium eggs, 2 tsp baking powder, spices (about 2 tsp), citrus zest.

Variations:   The original  biscotti were  flavoured with hazelnuts and aniseed.  You can use any combination of fruit, nut and flavouring that takes your fancy: pistachio, blanched almonds,sultanas and lemon zest with mixed spice; walnut, glace cherry and cinnamon with demerara sugar for richness; sultana, dried mango, coconut and cardamom to go with chai; blanched almonds, dried apricots and almond essence. The latter two are my favourites, I think.

This time I used clementine sugar*, pistachios, and half chopped home-made mixed peel and half barberries, with about half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  A quarter of a teaspoon of ground clove would have been a welcome addition, but I’d run out.

Method: Heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan oven).  Sift the flour and baking sugar into a bowl, add the sugar, dried spices and eggs and blend roughly with fork.  Knead with your hands for a few moments until the flour is smoothly blended.  Then add the fruit and nuts and mix those in thoroughly with your hands.   Empty the dough onto a floured work surface, knead any escaped nuts or fruit back in, and cut the mixture into four.  Shape each of these into sausages about a foot long, and press them down and spread them out slightly so they have a nice flat bottom as this makes the second baking stage easier.  Put two sausages (not too close together) each onto two well-buttered (or papered) baking trays.  NB if you are making these with your children, don’t spend too long on the blending and rolling as the baking powder will be activated when you add the eggs and needs to be in the oven within five minutes or so.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sausages have spread out and  are just golden. I swapped the trays half way through so they cooked evenly (even in fan ovens, items on the top shelf cook more quickly).

Take them out, turn the oven down to 140C, and put them on a rack to cool. While they are cooling,  rebutter the baking trays.

Biscotti Uncut

When they have cooled enough to handle, slice them, at a slight diagonal, about 1cm thick, stand them on the baking trays as shown below.  At this stage you can freeze them on the trays, put them in bags and they will keep for ages. You can lay them flat on the baking trays if they won’t stand, but to do so you will need more baking trays or to cook them in two batches. and you will have to faff about turning them over halfway through cooking.    Put them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (again, I swapped shelves half way through). Take them out when they are nicely golden brown and cool them on a rack.   You can scoff the scruffy ends as your cook’s perks.   This recipe makes about 800g of biscotti, and the little bags above have about 100g each in.

Biscotti Sliced

How to Make Citrus Sugar  I love citrus fruits and eat loads of them at this time of year when the navel oranges and clementines are at their best.  I seldom buy unwaxed ones but always use the zest.  You can remove the wax easily by washing the fruit in a clean sink with a little washing up liquid and letting them drain dry or drying them off with a tea towel or kitchen towel. Each time I use a lemon,  lime or oranges I  remove the zest in strips (with one of those zesters with four little holes in it) directly onto a layer of sugar in large preserving jar. You need to do it straight into the jar to get as much of the lovely oil as possible. It’s very quick, and you simply layer some more sugar on top of the zest and stir it.  I use the sugar in baking, marinades, hot toddies, on yoghurt or in porridge.  The lemon sugar is nice is tea; orange is good for sweetening mulled wine.
Clementines or tangerines are harder to zest and too faffy to do individually,  so I do a lot of them in a batch with a medium microplane grater, and if the zested fruit isn’t going to be eaten for a couple of days, I keep them in a plastic back in the fridge.  It’s worth doing because the sugar is so fragrant and Christmassy.   It’s lovely ground up in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar and sprinkled on cooling pastry or fruit bread. It’s  a very good way to glam up an oven-warmed shop-bought mince pie.