Happy New Year + The Last Bit of Christmas

So here we are at the start of another year: a clean slate with a full twelve months ahead of us. My resolution this year is simply to make the most of it. Personally 2013 was a good year, but it was a year in which I saw the lives of too many dear friends turned up-side-down with challenges beyond comprehension - from losing loved ones to diagnoses that didn't belong with good young healthy friends. Lets hope that 2014 is a calmer year that offers hope and healing. If 2013 taught me anything, it is that you should never ever take life for granted, however mundane it might sometimes seem and to stop occasionally and take time to appreciate the good things, no matter how small.

Christmas is now just a blur of happy times with family and friends. It was good, but it came and went too quickly. I had planned to do many posts on this blog in the run up to Christmas, but the frantic flurry of last minute wrapping, baking and organising left me no time. However, I still want to share this belated Christmas recipe with you for Mulled Wine & Cranberry Cake. I made double the recipe so that I could have two cakes. I baked one in a round 6" tin and the other in a regular loaf tin. I gave one to my eighty-something neighbour - to say that he appreciates a homemade cake is an understatement. I take round baked goods to him every Christmas (and Easter too), wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon and a few days later the most beautifully poetic handwritten thank you note drops through my door, which upon reading shows just how the giving of a home-baked cake can mean so much to some people. I love that. 

The second cake, is nestling in the back of my freezer: the last bit of Christmas if you like. It never ended up having its moment during the festivities, but it will no doubt brighten up a dull January afternoon some day soon. If you happen to have any mulled wine leftover, this recipe is for you.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year full of Happy Days. xxxxx

Mulled Wine & Cranberry Cake

Make 1.

200ml mulled wine

75g ready-to-eat dried figs

50g crystallised stem ginger

75g whole blanched almonds

50g each dried cranberries and dried sour cherries

100g light muscovado sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Grated zest of 2 oranges

100g fresh cranberries

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground allspice

For the topping:

75g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)

2 tbsp orange juice

4 tbsp red currant jelly

Chop the figs, ginger and almonds and mix with the dried cranberries and cherries and the sugar in a bowl. Pour the mulled wine over the fruit and leave to soak for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 160℃, 325℉, gas 3. Stir the eggs, orange zest and the fresh cranberries into the soaked dried fruit. Next, sift the flour, cinnamon and allspice. Mix together. 

Spoon the mixture into a 19 x 9cm, 7cm deep loaf tin or a 6" round tin, base-lined with baking parchment. Bake for 55 mins. Leave to cool, tip the cake out and peel off the paper.

To make the topping, heat the cranberries, orange juice and red currant jelly over a low heat, stirring until the jelly has dissolved.

Brush the top of the loaf with some of the topping juice, then spoon the cranberries along the centre of the cake (for the loaf shaped cake), or the centre (for the round cake). Leave to cool before serving.

Recipe adapted from Family Baking by Sarah Randell

Photography: Buttercup Days