Now that we are safely in December and the advent calendars are out, it feels totally normal to be in the festive spirit. I have spied decorated trees in windows all around my neighbourhood already – and we are debating whether to get ours tomorrow. The picking of the tree is the moment that makes Christmas for me – walking around a lot debating the merits of the various trees before finding ‘the one’ to bring home and decorate.
The decorating is the next big festive milestone – an excuse to listen to Christmas songs with hot chocolate (for the kids) and cocktails (for the adults). I have a bit of an obsession with twinkly lights as well – every year getting more and yet, somehow, never having enough. It doesn’t help that the Christmas tree also gets bigger every year…
Baking is always big in my house, but it kicks into overdrive in December – cookies, cakes and all things gingerbread perfuming the house with the aroma of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, star anise and nutmeg. All these spices (and more) make up Waitrose’s Signature Spice which makes it perfect for adding to festive recipes. I used the spice blend in this rather addictive Gingerbread Bundt Cake – it is dark, fragrant, and utterly delicious. What’s more, this cake doesn’t even require a mixer – it’s pretty much a one-bowl wonder.
I had Kimberly of The Little Plantation over and she acted as my stylist and assistant during this cake shoot. It’s funny how quickly we bonded over our shared interest in food photography – by the time she left I felt like we had known each other for ages when we had, in fact, only just met. Watch this space for a future collaboration and make sure to check out her lovely blog!
- 300g | 10.5oz soft dark brown sugar
- 300g | 10.5oz plain (all purpose) flour
- 150g | 5.3oz black treacle (or use light molasses)
- 160g | 5.6oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 180ml | 6fl oz milk
- 60ml | 2fl oz fresh orange juice (1 medium orange)
- 3 large eggs
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 tsp Waitrose signature spice
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp butter and a little flour for the cake tin
- handful star anise to decorate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Melt 1 tbsp of butter on the stove or microwave and brush the inside of a 25cm (10in) bundt tin. Add a little flour and tap the tin to coat. Shake out any excess.
- Put the sugar, treacle, milk, orange juice and zest in a large pot and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Take off the heat, add the cubed butter and stir until melts.
- Add the eggs and use a hand whisk to mix them in until incorporated.
- Sift in the flour, spices, soda bicarbonate and salt. Fold them in until you have a smooth, fairly thin, batter.
- Pour into the prepared bundt tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is risen, firm on top and a skewer inserted in the deepest part of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes then carefully turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Drizzle with some toffee sauce or a simple glaze made with icing sugar and orange juice. Decorate with star anise or perhaps some frosted cranberries. The cake keeps really well in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.