The following recipe is suitable for children – you can omit some of the juices and add cider and/or brandy to an adult version.
Non-Alcoholic Festive Wassail Drink
3 glasses of cranberry juice
3 glasses of orange juice
2 glasses apple juice
2 tbsp honey
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 oranges, cut into segments
Combine juices and honey in a large pot over a low heat, stirring until honey is dissolved. Put the cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves and ginger into a muslin bag and tie shut before adding to the liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove spice bag, and add cut up orange. Serve hot.
Festive Fruit Cake
A rich and tasty fruit cake is a must for festive occasions. We don’t need to dry and bake our fruit to preserve it through the long winter months any more but this cake is reminiscent of a time when we didn’t have 24 hour supermarkets. Will keep for a long time!
175g glace cherries
175g large raisins
50g mixed peel
100ml brandy (optional)
125g brazil nuts
225g unsalted butter
Rind of one lemon
225g light soft muscovado sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
225g plain flour
1tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
Soak the dried fruit in 5 tbsp brandy overnight
Next day, preheat oven to 150C
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Stir in all the ingredients
Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line it with baking parchment
Before baking the cake put a folded up newspaper on a baking tray and make a thick collar of newspaper around the outside of the tin
Bake cake in the oven for roughly 3 hours, until a skewer comes out clean.
Check the cake every hour and if it is browning too much cover the top with several layers of brown paper or greaseproof paper
Leave the cake to cool and then pierce all over with the skewer and drizzle with the remaining brandy. Wrap first in greaseproof paper and then in tin foil and put in a cake tin. If not eating straight away, feed the cake once a week with an extra tbsp of brandy.
Wish Bread Pudding
This delightfully decadent bread is a real treat, and a wonderful way to share your intentions and wishes for the year ahead. Each member of the family rolls a ball of dough (or several) and makes a wish before adding the dough to the cake tin. Wish bread is traditionally baked in a bundt pan, a ring-shaped cake tin from Germany. The bread is made with love and good intentions for the year ahead and is a very sweet and special dessert to tear and share as a family.
For the dough
500g strong flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp honey
3 tsp dried yeast
For the sugar coating
150g caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
To make the dough:
Gently heat the milk until it is just warm
In a small bowl, mix 2tbsp of the warmed milk and the yeast together
Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl
Cube the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, honey, yeast and milk mixture, and just enough milk to make a dough, it should be soft and not too sticky
Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes
Put the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm spot for about 90mins
When the dough has doubled in size, put it back on your work surface and give it a quick knead to get the air out before rolling it into a sausage shape.
Cut the sausage into slices depending on how many ‘wish balls’ you want
Each family member then takes their slices and rolls them into balls, thinking about their wishes and intentions for the year ahead
To make the coating, combine the caster sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl
Add the dough ‘wish balls’ and stir until they’re all coated in the sugar and cinnamon mix
When the balls are well coated, invite each member to add their ball(s) of dough to the greased bundt pan, making a wish for the coming year as they do so
Preheat the oven to 200c / Gas mark 5
When all the wish balls are in the pan, and you have a ring of them, cover them with the tea towel again and leave them in a warm place until they’ve doubled in size
Place in the oven for 30 – 35 mins
When cooked and cooled, turn the wish bread out onto a plate and enjoy the sweet treat full of love and wishes for the year to come.