Wednesday 31 December 2014

Alphabakes roundup - X

Once again we decided to be nice and deliberately choose X as our letter for December, and accept Christmas (Xmas) and otherwise festive entries. Otherwise I doubt there would have been many entries at all!

Our first entry is a great way to use up Christmas leftovers: turkey, cranberry and stilton brunch muffins from Helen at Fuss Free Flavours. I've made savoury muffins before with ham and cheese but it never occurred to me to try turkey - what a good idea!

I wasn't expecting many X entries that weren't Christmas-related but the second entry this month is just that. Kate at the Gluten Free Alchemist has made this raspberry lemon drizzle cake, using xanthan gum as a gluten replacement. Kate made this for a pink-themed bake sale and says the cake is "dense, yet beautifully moist and syrupy. It is sharp and tangy, yet shot through with a wonderful sweetness from the sugar. The crisp coat of the icing contrasts and enhances the softness of the sponge. It is a perfect balance of flavours and textures which leaves you wanting at least another slice."

My Alphabakes co-host, Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, made this chocolate and fig panforte for her work Christmas lunch even though she doesn't really like figs, which is really very selfless! Sprinkled with icing sugar I think these would go down well as part of a buffet, or an evening treat while you watch a festive film, or even packaged up as an edible gift.

Speaking of edible gifts, I made quite a few things this Christmas which I am going to class as one entry - including this candy cane peppermint bark and these candy cane chocolate hearts. They look very pretty, tasted good and were fun to give out to friends as they left after a weekend visit in December.

Time for a savoury entry - this salmon log is from Alida at My Little Italian Kitchen and it's beautifully decorated. The main ingredients are bread, soft cheese and smoked salmon, so what you might have as a starter on Christmas day or as part of the Boxing day buffet, but I've never seen it presented as attractively as this!

Can you believe I have never eaten a mince pie before? I decided to have a go at making them, using homemade mincemeat as well, and then following a Slimming World recipe for the pastry cases to make them a bit less sinful than normal. But then, I still didn't actually eat one!

 Here's another entry from Kate, aka the Gluten Free Alchemist, and I'm very impressed by her gluten-free gingerbread house. It sounds like she had a lot of fun with her daughter making this and I think the candy cane sleigh is particularly cute!

Karen from Lavender and Lovage sent in these St Lucia Saffron and Cardamom Sweet Buns for St Lucy’s Day. If you're not familiar with St Lucy's Day you'll have to read Karen's post which I found very interesting. The buns look quite festive so I guess I will accept those as a Christmas (Xmas) entry!

Fudge is something that I find very difficult to make and I end up with a sauce more than a solid cube, so I'm very impressed with this Christmas cranberry fudge from Angela at Garden Tea Cakes and Me. She replaced some of the caster sugar with flavoured icing sugar which I think was a really good idea.

Here's my co-host Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker again with an idea I've wanted to try for a while but not gotten around to: stained glass cookies. You cut a hole in the middle of your cookie, melt down some boiled sweets and let them set inside the cookie. And then hang them on your tree!

Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog used a breadmaker for the first time to make this chocolate panettone, which she says was light, buttery and fragrant. It's definitely Christmassy! She was also quite taken with the breadmaker.

These really cute reindeer cupcakes come from Kerene at I Am The Dream Baker. The horns are made from pretzels and the face uses both chocolate and peanut butter buttercream - yum!

Panforte marked the start of Christmas baking for Suelle at Mainly Baking and she found a recipe where she could incorporate both chocolate and figs, and really made the recipe her own. I've never had panforte before but think this looks delicious!

These stollen biscuit bites from Laura at How To Cook Good Food would make brilliant edible gifts. They contain marzipan and are also a good way of using up dried fruit that you might have bought to make your Christmas cake.

 I love this Christmas biscuit tree from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes - it must have taken ages! She made a series of star biscuits in varying sizes, decorated them and stacked them to look like a Christmas tree. Doesn't it look great?

Finally we have an entry that is a traditional Christmas cake - from Corina at Searching for Spice. It's a rich fruit cake which she flavoured with cider and decorated with reindeer and Christmas trees. At the time of posting Corina said she hadn't tasted the cake yet but it's the second year she has made it so I'm sure it's good!

We've got two entries now from my mum Jacqueline, first these Christmas shortbread biscuits cut in the shape of stars:

and secondly this strawberry sponge cake, filled and decorated with fresh strawberries. Where's the 'x', you ask? My mum made this for my grandmother who isn't supposed to eat as much sugar any more, so she tracked down some xylitol which is a sugar substitute. I'm sure my grandmother appreciated the effort and having a low-sugar cake that she could eat - and I certainly appreciate the unusual Alphabakes entry!

I also found an unusual ingredient - XO sauce. You can make it from scratch but it uses a lot of hard to find ingredients so I bought a jar from Tesco and used that as an ingredient in my salmon stir-fry. I'd never tried or even heard of XO sauce before but really enjoyed it.

Janine from Cake of the Week sent us this mint chocolate cheesecake. She says she only managed to do half of the Christmas baking that she had planned, but this more than makes up for it! It has a bourbon biscuit base which I've never thought to use for a cheesecake but I think that's a great idea!

Macarons are particularly hard to make so I'm impressed by these French macarons with mint chocolate ganache from Kerene aka The Dream Baker. They look perfect - you would never guess that this is her first time trying the Italian method of making macarons!

 We end on a lovely festive bake from my co-host Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, who made these cranberry, orange, pecan and white chocolate mini loaves. She says orange is the predominant flavour but you can definitely taste the other ingredients. They look so cute wrapped up with ribbon!

Thanks to everyone who took part in Alphabakes this month - you can find out which letter Ros has chosen for January at The More Than Occasional Baker tomorrow on January 1. Happy new year!


  1. FAB round up thanks and my saffron buns are VERY Xmassy I said in my email and are made all over Scandinavia throughout Christmas - even Paul Hollywood made them on his XMAS TV programme!

  2. What a fabulous round up, lots of Christmas baking inspiration there. I too have the stained glass biscuits on my list of bakes.

    Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015!

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me

  3. I love all the Christmassy treats people have made... It's such a great time of year to bake decorative and pretty things. Yum!

  4. Oh gosh, Christmas pretty much passed me by this year. I'd have loved to have had a few of these treats to munch on. Thanks for the round-up.


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