A showstopping Christmas layer cake filled with cranberry compote, whipped mascarpone frosting and crowned with a sweet meringue wreath. Slice to reveal the festive red and green layers!
When you think of Christmas what images pop in your mind? Twinkly lights, time with friends and family, eating delicious food, giving and receiving presents?
For me, Christmas is all about getting together with loved ones, sharing enormous festive feasts and indulging with abandon. Our family is scattered all over the globe – Greece, Spain, Canada and the States – so it’s very rare that we actually all spend Christmas together.
But spending time just as a family is precious enough in itself and we go ALL OUT with the celebrating even if it is just the four of us – well, six of us counting the dogs. And hopefully there will be occasions to get together with friends and neighbours that make up our extended family.
I was terribly excited to be invited to my very first Christmas celebration this year, a wonderful supper club thrown by Waitrose at the Bull and Last pub in North London. The pub windows had been frosted with (artificial) snow to resemble the snowed in pub in the Waitrose Christmas advert.
Inside the space was warm and beautifully decorated, with an enormous table laid out for a festive feast. Among the guests were some very familiar faces, including Bake Off winners Edd and John, but the person I was most excited to see was my blogger friend Kellie (of Kellie’s Food to Glow).
The night kicked off with some cocktail shaking – hello Gingerbread Martinis! – and plenty of amazing canapés making the rounds including delicious mini croissants with Bloody Mary shots, lobster Thermidor bites and Christmas tree vol-au-vents.
The upstairs room showcased even more delicious items from the Waitrose Christmas range all laid out and instagram-ready complete with lovely props and beautiful decorations. It took a lot of self restraint for me to not walk away with some of those props, let me tell you.
Kellie and I had a lot of fun photographing the food upstairs but eventually it was time to sit down to a truly spectacular feast. I am not sure I can live up to the incredible rack of venison, traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings.
And if we weren’t full enough, there was a choice of desserts to finish, including Black Forest sparkle bar, salted caramel profiterole tart and – my favourite – mocha cheesecake. Each of the desserts was paired with a sweet wine and I blame the Madeira for the slightly fuzzy head I am sporting today 😉
From now until Christmas, Waitrose is celebrating the joy of being together and you can take part too. Share photos and videos of how you’re spending #ChristmasTogether on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for the chance to win amazing festive prizes, such as KitchenAid mixers, magnums of Champagne, fresh Christmas trees with John Lewis decorations and luxury Waitrose Christmas Hampers. More information and T&Cs here.
I have been creating festive cakes for Waitrose for a couple of years now and so it felt only right to bake something festive for 2017 as well. Say hello to this showstopping Christmas layer cake with a sweet meringue crown and festive layers of red and green! I even added a little cranberry compote between the layers which you can include, or not, I will leave that up to you.
I have made this vanilla cake many times before, most recently as a rainbow cake for my son’s 7th birthday. Usually I bake it using liquid egg whites, but I realised that using fresh egg whites results in a much more delicious cake. Maybe you can turn the yolks into curd?
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- For the cake
- 320 g | 11oz caster sugar
- 250 g | 9oz plain all purpose flour
- 30 g | 1oz cornflour cornstarch
- 170 g | 6oz unsalted butter cubed
- 240 ml | 8.4fl oz | 1 cup whole milk
- 180 ml | 6.3fl oz egg whites from 5-6 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- red and green paste food colouring
- Sugarflair Spectral concentrated paste colour in Christmas Red and Holly Green
- For the frosting
- 500 g | 1lb 2oz full-fat mascarpone
- 300 g | 10.5oz icing sugar
- 200 ml | 7fl oz double cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- You will also need
- cranberry compote to spread between the layers
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray 5 x15cm/6in cake tins with cake release and line with baking parchment.
- Put the flour, cornflour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and briefly mix together on low speed to combine using the paddle attachment.
- Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- In a measuring jug, mix together the milk, egg whites and vanilla extract.
- Add the egg white mixture into the batter, in three stages, mixing well on low speed after each addition.
- Increase the speed to maximum and mix for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
- Transfer 440g (15 1/2oz) of the batter into another large bowl and tint it green using paste food colouring. Tint the remaining batter red.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tins – each tin is about 220g (7.7oz) _ and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are well risen, springy and coming away from the sides of the tin.
- Cool in the tins for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the frosting, put the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of your stand mixer. Start mixing on low speed to combine and gradually add the double cream.
- Increase the speed to highest setting, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl halfway through, until you have firm peaks.
- Transfer the frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a plain round tip and pipe a ring of frosting around the perimeter of your bottom cake layer.
- Spread a little cranberry compote on the inside if you like, otherwise just fill with frosting.
- Repeat with the remaining layers, pressing them down lightly.
- Pipe frosting over the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a palette knife and side scraper.
- Top the cake with meringue kisses or a meringue wreath (see notes) and serve.
To make the meringue wreaths, whisk 60g (2oz) egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add 120g (4oz) caster sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk at maximum speed until you have firm peaks. Add 1 tsp white wine vinegar and 1 tsp vanilla extract at the end and mix them in. Divide the meringue into two bowls and tint them red and green (or just red and leave rest white). Trace 2x15cm (6in) circles on baking paper. Transfer meringue to piping bags fitted with differest star tips and pipe on the inside of the circle to create the wreath, alternating the colours as you like. Bake in a 100C (215F) oven for 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave to cool completely. Carefully peel off the paper and transfer onto cake (be careful they are quite fragile).
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