“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…”This Sunday will mark the last Sunday before Advent, and it is therefore dubbed Stir-up Sunday.
A British tradition hailing back to the Victorian era, where families would gather in the kitchen to each take a turn to stir the pudding ingredients and to make their own wishes. Some hide coins in the mix, that once found are thought to bring health and happiness for the coming year.
Instead of making a regular Christmas cake, these mini versions are perfect for gifts.
Mini Christmas cake loaves
(Makes 8 mini loaves/muffins, recipe adapted from Whitworths)
100g glacé cherries
30g mixed peel
100g unsalted butter, softened
75g dark brown sugar
100g plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 small orange, zest and juice
1/2 tbsp black treacle
50g flaked almonds
N.B, in order to make these quicker buy a bag of pre-soaked mixed fruit from your local supermarket and use instead. Alternatively, soak your own in brandy or your favourite tipple.
Place the dried fruit and peel into a bowl, pour over the brandy and cover. Leave for 48 hours to soak.
Heat the oven to 140 degrees and fill a baking tray with mini loaf cases (muffin trays will work just as well if you don't have any).
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and mixed spice and gently beat to combine the mixture. Add the orange zest and juice, black treacle and beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the soaked fruit and almonds until evenly incorporated through the mixture.
Spoon the batter between the cake cases, filling to the top of each.
Place on the bottom rack of your oven and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Store in an airtight tin until needed. To decorate, dust with icing sugar and dried cranberries.