Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

My latest article in Country and Town House December edition is out and is very festive - is it too early to be talking about Christmas at the beginning of November?

The sweet scent of freshly baked mince pies and Christmas puddings steaming on the Aga - this is my favourite time in the kitchen. If you are making a Christmas cake this year, try replacing brandy with amaretto for a lovely almond flavour. Decorate a wreath for the door with holly, fresh clementines and red ribbons to welcome arriving guests. For warming mulled wine, simmer 2 bottles of red wine, a carton of orange juice, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar, 250ml brandy, 3 cinnamon sticks, 15 cloves, a bayleaf and orange and lemon slices for 10 minutes. Serve with a slice of Christmas gingerbread, flavoured with orange, lemon and Cointreau and topped with festive cranberries – a perfect offering for guests and carol singers.

Cranberry Gingerbread

Preparation time 30 minutes cooking time 1 hour

Serves 10

170g/6oz sultanas

100ml Cointreau

500g/1.1lb plain flour, sifted

1tsp ground ginger

1tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp ground mixed spice

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

zest of 1 orange and juice and zest of 1 lemon

255g/9oz butter

3oz treacle

8oz golden syrup

2 heaped tbsp ginger jam

200g/7oz dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

142ml sour cream

150g/5¼oz cream cheese

400g/14oz icing sugar, sifted

dried cranberries and silver balls

Soak the sultanas in the Cointreau for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 25cm/10in ring tin. Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, bicarbonate, zests, sultanas and Cointreau in a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, gently melt 170g/6oz of the butter, together with the treacle, golden syrup, jam and brown sugar. Allow to cool, then stir into the dry ingredients, adding the sour cream and eggs. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for one hour until the cake is firm to touch and a knife comes out clean with no cake batter. If the cake starts to brown too much during cooking, cover the top of the cake with silver foil. When cooled, whisk together the remaining 85g/3oz butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Cover the gingerbread with the icing and decorate with dried cranberries and silver balls.


Bellini Valli said...

This would be such a welcome treat Hannah:D

Marie said...

That looks fantastic Hannah! I have to say that I am really enjoying your "recipes for one" column in Country kitchen mag as well!