The island's culinary stars give us their favourite festive feasts
Time Out Bahrain staff
An invitation to the traditional Christmas cake mixing ceremony for the Elite Group, which takes place each year at the beginning of November, got us wondering about just what goes into some of our favourite festive offerings.
First off, we had to ask why the Christmas cake has to be prepared so early. Well, apparently with such a rich and heavy, fruity mixture you have to allow several weeks for the fruits and nuts to absorb the liberal quantity of beverages they are steeped in before actually mixing them into a cake!
We had great fun getting involved and finding out chef Sultan’s recipe.
Christmas plum cake
Ingredients 50g broken cashew nuts 40g almonds 50g prunes 40g dark brown sugar 40g mixed dried fruit 40g raisins 40g blackcurrants 50g red cherries 10g strawberry jam 15g orange jam 30g orange marmalade with peel 15g apricot jam 15g candied ginger 30g candied peel Sprinkling almond essence 2.5g cinnamon powder 1.3g green cardamom 8ml sailors’ beverage 9ml French beverage
Mix thoroughly all the above but only around two thirds of the beverages and store in a cool, dark place to macerate over several weeks. Turn the mixture every five to six days adding the remaining beverage.
Method After the maceration period sift the flour twice with baking powder, add semolina and mix thoroughly.
Soften the butter, add the sugar and mix, incorporating the treacle and eggs little by little to form a smooth mixture.
Fold in the flour gently ensuring no lumps.
Us a greased cake tin dusted with flour and lined with baking parchment and bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 45 minutes to an hour.
Once thoroughly cooled you can add icing and decorations. (Note, measurements are approximate, we made 750kg of cake, this recipe should make around 1kg!) Next we visited Le Chocolat to get the skinny on Chef Elli’s traditional French Buche De Noel or chocolate Yule log.
Syrup 1ltr water 400g sugar Cinnamon stick Vanilla liquid
Cream 200g dark chocolate 4 eggs (separated) 2tbs orange Juice 400ml thickened cream
Method Sponge Mix eggs and sugar in mixing machine for 30 minutes.
Add cocoa powder, flour, orange zest and vanilla syrup and mix together.
Spread the mixture in a tray to1.5cm thickness and cook in oven for 10 minutes at 190°C.
Syrup Boil water and sugar together and add cinnamon stick and vanilla liquid and cool.
Cream Mix Sugar and eggs, add dark chocolate (mixed) and cocoa powder and orange juice.
Spread the cream onto the sponge and roll it. Freeze it for 20 minutes and cut the loaf edges to resemble a tree then garnish with icing sugar for snow and festive decorations. Lastly we headed down to the Sofitel to find out chef Fabrice’s recipe for that oldest of traditional favourites.
Method Marinate the blackcurrants, raisins and mixed candied fruits with the beverages for a minimum of 24 hours.
Cream the butter and the two kinds of sugar in a blender for five minutes.
Add the eggs gradually.
Strain the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, add the sliced almonds and add it in the above mixture and mix well
Add the vanilla essence.
Bake at 160°C-170°C for 60 to 75 minutes.
This recipe will serve 10 to 15 Persons (And yes we know Christmas pudding is usually steamed for hours but this is the version for those who have better things to do, which we reckon covers our readers!)