forum: Food & Drink

#31 Thu 09 Nov 06 10:38pm

Dave Barker

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Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

Hi guys,


When I was a kid we used to have these really naff little sausages wrapped in bacon, they were small little things that always dried up in the oven when roasted with the turkey... but as a kid I loved them!!! something about the crispy , salty bacon.....UMMMMMM

Anyway, last year we were doing the same thing on the christmas menu where I was working at the time and , as always they were comming out dry and horrible...

So I decided to try and re invent them a bit and try and try to stop them drying out.

The first thing I did was to use bigger, juicey sausages, still chipolatas, but the nice big ones instead of those tiny bite size ones.

They still cooked with the turkey in 30 mins, but stayed nice and juicey.

I also swapped from using thick back bacon strips to using thinly sliced Pancetta (my Italian boss's influence!!!) that went nice and crisp in the oven when cooked.

We served one per person instead of 2 or 3 of the little ones, but they became a feature of the meal, not an after thought garnish!

Then I was watching Jamies Christmas and he was doing pretty much the same thing but wrapped fresh sage leaves between the pancetta slices and the sausage, I thought that it was another brilliant way to add great freah flavour so tried it, and that was it!!! it was a knockout... now its on the menu every xmas cool


chipolatas (large size)
freshly picked sage leaves, 2 per chipolata
2 slices of thin pancetta per sausage


Rinse the sage leaves under warm water to get the oils in the leaf working.

wrap the sausage with the sage leaves then the pancetta.

Add to the roasting pan with the turkey 30 mins before the end of the cooking time.

Hope you guys are all well

Dave Barker

Last edited by DB27 (Thu 09 Nov 06 10:40pm)

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#32 Thu 09 Nov 06 11:08pm

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...


Every year my mrs, Stella makes our Christmas cake from a secret recipie that she won't tell me!!!!

She makes about half way through November and keeps topping it up with Brandy to keep it moist, she makes the almond paste herself, and it is THE best fruit cake...

Because she won't tell me the recipie I have looked up a recipie that looks quiet close to what I have seen her put into it...


450g currants
200g sultanas
200g raisins
150g glacé cherries, quartered
75g candied mixed peel, chopped
50g ground almonds
0.5 lemon, grated rind and juice
1 orange, grated rind and juice
1 dessert apple, peeled and grated
275g unsalted butter
275g dark muscovado sugar
5 eggs, beaten
350g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon powder
0.5 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp black treacle, optional, to darken the cake
4 tbsp brandy, to soak the cake after it's baked


150g icing sugar, sieved
150g caster sugar
300g ground almonds
3 large egg yolks, beaten
0.25 tsp almond essence
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rum


4 large egg whites
1kg icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp glycerine


Using double thickness greaseproof paper, line the base and sides of either a 20cm round cake tin or an 18cm square tin. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin. The paper helps absorb some of the oven heat and protects the cake from overcooking.

Mix the dried fruit, cherries, candied peel, almonds and ground almonds together. Stir in the lemon and orange rind, juices and grated apple. Leave on one side while you make the cake mixture.

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 1-2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sieve the flour and spices, and fold in half the flour into the cake mixture.

Stir in half the dried fruit mixture followed by the remaing flour and dried fruit. Stir in enough treacle to darken the cake. The mixture should have a soft dropping consistency. If it looks a tad dry, add a dash of brandy. Spoon into the prepared tin and make an indentation in the centre of the cake. This helps ensure an even rise.

Bake the cake for about 3 hours, until it's firm to the touch.  When the cake is pierced with a skewer, it should come out clean. If it looks as if it's getting too brown in the oven, cover the surface of the cake with several layers of greaseproof paper.

Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Don't bother taking the greaseproof paper off though.

Pierce the cooled cake with a skewer and drizzle over a spoon of brandy. Do this a couple of times while it is maturing - once a week should be enough depending on how moist you like your cake. If you can, it's a good idea to give the cake around three weeks to mature before covering it with almond paste.


wrap the cake in several layers of greaseproof papaer and keep in an airtight box.


Place both the sugars in a mixing bowl with the ground almonds. Lightly beat the egg yolks, almond essence, lemon juice and rum. Add enough of the egg yolk mixture to the almonds and sugar and knead to make a soft but not sticky  dough.

Turn onto a surface, which has been dusted with icing sugar, and knead until smooth. If you're not using the paste straight away, keep covered with plastic wrap as it has a tendency to dry out.

To apply marzipan to a round cake
If the cake isn't  very level, turn the cake upside down and marzipan the base instead of the top. The top and sides of the cake are covered separately.

Measure around the circumference of the cake using a piece of string. Brush the top with warmed and sieved apricot jam.

Dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out one-third of the marzipan for the top of the cake. Turn the cake onto the almond paste and trim away excess almond paste with a sharp knife so it fits the exact size of the cake. Turn the cake the right way again and set on a cake board.

Brush the sides of the cake with apricot jam and roll out the remaining almond paste to an oblong, the length of the piece of string. The width should be about the same hight as the cake.

Carefully roll-up the almond paste oblong and smooth onto the sides of the cake. Trim with a sharp knife so that the paste fits the shape ot the cake.

Leave the cake for about five days so that the almond paste has a chance to dry before covering with royal icing.


It's best to cover the top of the cake first, followed by the two opposite sides. That way you won't get sticky fingers from handling the sides of a jam-coated cake!


Lightly whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until they are just beginning to get frothy. Stir in a couple of spoons of icing sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating well between each addition. Stir in the glycerine - this helps stop the icing from setting rock solid.

If you fancy flat icing your cake, keep the icing fairly soft - a wooden spoon should stand upright in the icing and slowly fall to one side. For piping, you should add more icing sugar to make a stiffer icing which will hold its shape.

It's a good idea to make the icing a day before you need it and let it sit in a covered bowl overnight. This way, the air bubbles will rise to the surface and you're more likely to have a smoother finish when it comes to icing the cake.


If you'd like to go all the way, try your hand at flat icing your cake. It's easier to apply the icing in two sittings (three, if your cake is square - one stage for the top, the next two stages for icing the two opposite sides.

Place a couple of tablespoons of icing over the top of the cake and spread it evenly with a palette knife to remove any lingering air bubbles. For a really smooth surface, use a ruler (which should be longer than the width of the cake). Hold the ruler at an angle (about 30 degrees), and draw the ruler steadily across the cake without using any pressure. You'll probably need two or three attempts to get it so you're happy with it.

Neaten the edges for a sharp finish and let the icing dry completely for about 12 hours before applying icing to the sides of the cake.


A cake icing turntable is really handy when icing the sides of a round cake. Spread the sides with royal icing and smooth it with a small palette knife.

Hold the knife at a 45 degree angle and draw the knife around the cake without applying any pressure. Most cook shops sell sugar scrapers and they're ideal for getting a smooth and professional finish and are much easier to use than a palette knife. Leave the icng to dry for about 12 hours.

For top-notch results, give your cake two coats of icing. Add a little more icing sugar to stiffen up left-over icing and use for piped decorations.

If you don't have time to make royal icing, you can always use ready-bought fondant icing.

Left-over marzipan can be coloured and moulded into festive shapes. Let them dry for a day or so before placing on the cake  - that way almond oil from the paste won't stain the cake.

If the sides of your cake aren't as smooth as you'd like, buy a broad ribbon and attach it around the Christmas cake. No one will ever know what you're camouflaging!

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#33 Thu 09 Nov 06 11:43pm

Dave Barker

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Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...



350g sultanas
350g raisins, or currants
150g dried figs, chopped
125g candied peel, chopped
100g Dried apricots, chopped
75g dark glacé cherries, halved
150ml Brandy, plus some for flaming
2 Apples, or quince
2 Oranges, juice and zest
6 eggs
250g shredded suet
350g soft muscovado sugar
250g fresh breadcrumbs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp Mixed spice


You will need two 1.5 litre plastic pudding basins and lids, buttered, two old sixpences or two pound coins, scrupulously scrubbed, two circles of greaseproof paper, buttered, large enough to cover the top of each pudding, with a single pleat folded down the centre of each.

Soak the sultanas, raisins or currants, figs, candied peel, apricots and cherries in the brandy overnight. The liquid won’t cover the fruit but no matter; just give it a good stir now and again.

Mix the grated apples, orange juice and zest, beaten eggs, suet, sugar, crumbs and pour in a very large mixing bowl, then stir in the soaked fruit and the spice. Divide the mixture between the buttered pudding basins, tucking the coins in as you go. Cover with the greaseproof paper, folded with a pleat in the centre.

Pop the lids on and steam for three and a half hours. Allow the puddings to cool, then remove the greaseproof paper, cover tightly with cling film and the plastic lid and store in a cool, dry place till Christmas.


Steam the puddings for a further three and a half hours. Turn out and flame with brandy.

Last edited by DB27 (Thu 09 Nov 06 11:52pm)

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#34 Thu 09 Nov 06 11:46pm

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...



450g unsalted butter
225g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp grated orange rind
1 tsp lemon juice
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of Cinnamon
6 tbsp dark rum or brandy


Cream the butter until soft and white, add the sugar, beating continuously.

Fold in the lemon and orange rind, lemon juice and spices.

Continue beating and fold in alcohol drop by drop.

Store in a refrigerator until ready for use. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours beforehand and when softened fluff up with a fork.

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#35 Fri 10 Nov 06 12:35am


Forum champ
From Switzerland
Member since Fri 15 Apr 05

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

Dave, you're a darling, thanks for the beef tips.  I'll let you know how I get on!  Also, thanks for pud recipe, we're doing ours this weekend and couldn't decide on a recipe to use, so I think that's solved the issue.  Do you have a good old-fashioned recipe for mincemeat?

Confuzed: vanilla vodka is the easiest thing ever.  Slice one or two vanilla pods lengthways and pop into a litre bottle of best quality vodka.  Add about 4-5 spoonfuls of sugar and shake to dissolve a bit.  Keep it in the larder for at least four or five days, shaking every day.  Chill very well before use.  You can do the same with blueberries (lovely colour) or cranberries (nice and seasonal, add some mixed spice and a bit of lemon peel too).  For the berry vodkas, leave for about a week as the milder flavours take longer to permeate the vodka, and the colour will improve too.
For the chilli vodka, simply pop in some chillies- use different varieties if you can get them (ie not just jalapenos) but bear in mind that some are INCREDIBLY hot and the vodka will be too... (I cried after the first shot).  Use three or four for a litre of vodka.  Again, shake every day for three or four days.  Excellent base for Bloody Marys. 
Good luck!

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#36 Fri 10 Nov 06 1:25am


Occupation nurturer.of.little.soUls
From Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Member since Tue 17 Oct 06

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

That would make the best Xmas present! Good idea..


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#37 Fri 10 Nov 06 8:45am

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

Hi again Anna,

To be totaly honest mate, I normaly just take a jar of really good quality mincemeat then funk it up a little with roughly chopped pecan nuts or walnuts to give it a really great nutty crunch, a splash of brandy and lemon zest... it makes the standard product much better and is so much easier.

Although another chef friend of mine Kirsty always makes hers and she says that it's really easy to make, takes very little time and I must be honest, her mince pies are brilliant.



500g currants
500g raisins
500g sultanas
500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped or coarsely grated
500g chopped beef suet, or vegetarian suet
100g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
450g light brown Muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1.5 tsp Mixed spice
1 lemon, grated rind and juice
1 orange, grated rind and juice
200g candied mixed peel, chopped
200ml dark rum
275ml dry sherry


Mix everything together in a really large bowl. It's great to get stuck in and use your hands for this. Cover the bowl and leave on one side for a day so that the flavours can develop. Give it a good stir now and again.

Pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars and seal with greaseproof paper covers and tight-fitting lids.

Store in a cool place - if you have the time, let the mincemeat mature for 2-3 weeks before using it for mincepies.


Last edited by DB27 (Fri 10 Nov 06 8:48am)

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#38 Fri 10 Nov 06 9:16am


Forum champ
From Scotland
Member since Wed 06 Apr 05

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

Here's a really good tip for a Christmas cake with a difference - instead of feeding it with brandy, feed it with ginger wine.  It leaves a lovely hint of warmth, and a depth of flavour and mellowness that brandy simply can't match  wink

Also, if you do make your own mincemeat, try substituting the mixed peel for dried tropical fruits - again, it gives a really soft, mellow flavour that you can never get from commercially made ones.

You should (theoretically) leave your mincemeat covered, in a cool place, for 3 days, stirring twice a day, before potting - this helps to stop fermentation during storage  smile


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#39 Fri 10 Nov 06 11:30am

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...

Brilliant ideas olivia!

Getting the warmth of the ginger wine, and the soft mellow flavors from the tropical fruits... to me that is what cooking is all about, tweaking food to your own liking and getting the best flavors and textures that you can...excellent!

You are right about the fermentation, will have to check that out with my mate Kirsty... whistle

If you get anymore xmas related ideas keep them comming mate... I would like this thread to be a bit of a christmas ideas guide for people that need inspiration over the holidays... cool

All the best

Dave B

Last edited by DB27 (Fri 10 Nov 06 11:31am)

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#40 Fri 10 Nov 06 11:40am

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Dave Barkers Christmas Kitchen...


Sammi is right, The flavoured vodka sounds like a brilliant idea for xmas...

Christmas Vodka??? Maybe some cloves, cinnamon, orange zest ,

I have no idea if that has been thought of before...I have never heard of it!!!

May need to play with that one soon...... cool

All the best mate

Dave B

Last edited by DB27 (Fri 10 Nov 06 11:41am)

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