The Difficult Extract
At this time of year food is prevalent, for 31 days (at least) gluttony is key, diets are abandoned, healthy eating is but a myth, toothache ensues & chocolate becomes a staple… I love it.
We’re hooked on this annual routine of indulgence from a young age & I’m not ashamed to say that as a 27 year old woman, I still have an advent calendar every year.
Despite having enough tubs of Quality Street to feed three families, it doesn’t end there, my house is filled with both the essential & my favourite festive treats. Mince pies, gingerbread, nuts in their shells, Wensleydale spiked with cranberry, After Eight mints, the obligatory M&S biscuit selection & an awful lot of candy canes.
My love of all things mint has given candy canes quite the starring role in my Christmases over the years. They’re used as tree decorations, as finishing touches to my gift hampers & are generally scattered around the house in a variety of festive containers, gradually decreasing in quantity as the big day draws closer.
It is said that candy canes, originating from Germany, were invented to keep children quiet during Christmas church services. The crook in one end, giving its cane shape, was added to represent the three wise shepherds. I can attest to the silencing power of the peppermint cane, as I sit cwtched up on the sofa watching Shrek for the umpteenth time, donning the new pair of slippers that my mothers buys me every year & wondering just how long I can make this minty confection last.
Mint is tricky business when it comes to baking, too little & the flavour is lost, too much & the artificial flavour becomes hard to palette. I’ve translated peppermint very well to cheesecakes, buttercreams & icings in the past but the challenge of a cake showcasing one of my favourite flavours was one that took a few attempts. Luckily, my gluttony prevailed & I now have a peppermint cake in my repertoire that makes a very brief appearance every December…
PEPPERMINT CANDY CANE CAKE
(makes one 1.5 litre (10 inch) bundt)
- 450g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 390g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp peppermint extract
- 240ml buttermilk
- 360ml rapeseed oil
- Red food colouring
- Grease a large 10 inch bundt pan
- In a large bowl mix together the buttermilk, oil, sugar, vanilla, peppermint & eggs
- Sift over the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder & combine
- Using another bowl, divide the mixture in half between the two bowls
- Add the red food colouring to one bowl until bright (Christmas) red in colour
- Alternating between the plain & red mixtures, spoon unto the greased tin
- Taking a dinner knife, use a swirling motion to gently mingle the mixtures in the tin
- Bake at 180°C for 1 hour
- Cool the cake in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack
- Optional: Make a buttercream icing using 200g icing sugar, 100g butters & 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Pipe or spread this over the cake & top with crushed candy canes