Last year on a whim I bought a Christmas-tree shaped cake tin (probably after watching Love Actually for the 100th time) and recently tried it our with a ginger and white chocolate sponge.
You can use any tin you own, but there is something quite special about using the tree-shaped tin, although there’s not much use for it the rest of the year.
I needed a big cake for our Christmas drinks party, when we squeezed 30 of our friends into our one-bed flat, and this tin came into its own and was a real showstopper.
Instead of a plain sponge, I decided to make use of a new product I was sent in. Two bottles of spiced ginger from Great Uncle Cornelius arrived at the flat recently so I put them to good use in this Christmas cake.
The ginger cordial, from James White Drinks, is perfect for Christmas and added a light, warming, ginger flavour to the cake along with making it deliciously moist and squidgy (which also helped avoid the cake drying out as I made the whole thing the day before the party).
I also tried a splash of the aperitif in a glass of prosecco with excellent results. It added a very subtly warming spice making it the perfect Christmas cocktail for a winter party.
As white chocolate goes pretty much hand in hand with ginger, I added it into the buttercream icing for an extra layer of indulgence. My decorations were pretty ad hoc with whatever I had in the kitchen so feel free to be as creative as your inspiration (and baking supplies) will take you.
250g plain flour
250g softened butter
250g caster sugar
4 free range eggs
1tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
30ml ginger cordial (I used the Great Uncle Cornelius version)
For the icing:
500g icing sugar
200g white chocolate
25ml milk (whole is best but semi skimmed will do)
Decorations for the top (I used silver and coloured sugar balls and flaked almonds)
How to make…
Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and grease your Christmas tree tin.
Blend together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. This takes around three minutes with an electric mixer, double without. If you’re using an electric mixer remember to scrape down the sides regularly with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed in properly.
Once the mixture has doubled and lightened in colour, add in the eggs one at a time. In between each egg pop in a dollop of flour to stop the mixture separating.
Slowly pour in the ginger cordial and carry on mixing gently before sieving in the flour and pinch of salt slowly.
Carry on mixing everything together until everything is combined – around two minutes with an electric mixer, four without and then pour the cake batter into your tin.
Bang your tin sharply on the table to get rid of the air bubbles and then put in the oven for 45 minutes.
Watch the cake like a hawk and as soon as it’s darkened in colour and springs back to your touch they re done. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and wait until it’s stone cold before attempting the icing.
While you’re waiting for the cake to cool make your icing. Beat together the butter and sugar until it forms stiff peaks. It should be thick – like soft butter – and the longer you beat it for the smoother it will become, around five minutes with an electric mixer.
Once you have this consistency, melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 60 seconds (keep an eye on it and check regularly) and then add the chocolate to the icing mixture.
Turn your cake out of the tine (this took me a few attempts) and put on a flat surface, I used a large plate but a chopping board will do.
Use a spatula to dollop the icing on top of the cake and then decorate with the sprinkles, silver balls and/or flaked almonds to your heart’s content.