Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry’s favourite festive recipes: yule log, cake bites and Christmas pudding
With Christmas only just around the corner, we invited Mary Berry to share a few of her favourite festive recipes from her best-selling cookery book, Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection (Headline; £20)
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2015
”This is an easy Yule log, with a delicious filling and icing,” says Mary. “The apricot jam helps the icing to stick to the cake, and is delicious too. You don’t need to wait until Christmas, though: the cake can be made at any time of the year.”
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4 large eggs
100g (4 oz) caster sugar
65g (2½ oz) self-raising flour
40g (1½ oz) cocoa powder
Chocolate icing and topping
2 x 200g (7 oz) bars of dark chocolate, in small pieces
600ml (1 pint) double cream
4 tablespoons apricot jam
Icing sugar for dusting
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6. Lightly grease a 33 × 23cm (13 × 9 in) Swiss roll tin, and line with non-stick paper or baking parchment, pushing it into the corners.
STEP 1: For the sponge, whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric hand whisk in a large bowl until the mixture is pale in colour, light and frothy. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully cut and fold together, using a metal spoon, until all the cocoa and flour are incorporated into the egg mixture. (Be careful not to beat any of the air out of the mixture.)
STEP 2: Pour into the lined tin and spread evenly out into the corners. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes until evenly brown and the sides are shrinking away from the edge of the tin.
STEP 3: Place a piece of baking parchment bigger than the Swiss roll on the work surface. Invert the cake on to the paper and remove the bottom lining piece of paper.
STEP 4: Trim the edges of the cake with a sharp knife and make a score mark 2.5cm (1 in) in along the longer edge. Roll up (from the longer edge) using the paper, rolling with the paper inside. Set aside to cool.
STEP 5: While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Melt the chocolate and 450ml (16 fl oz) of the cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until completely melted (be careful not to overheat; the bowl must not touch the water). Put into the fridge to cool and firm up (this icing needs to be very thick for piping). Whip the remaining cream.
STEP 6: Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread a third of the icing over the surface, then spread the whipped cream on top, and re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from one end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of cake to a serving plate and angle the cut end to the side of the large cake to make a branch. Cover the surface of the cake with the melted apricot jam.
STEP 7: Put the remaining chocolate icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe long thick lines along the cake, covering the cake completely so it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each end with icing or, if you wish to see the cream, leave un-iced.
STEP 8: Dust with icing sugar and garnish with fresh holly to serve.
Make completely, filled and iced, up to two days ahead. If there is time, though, it is best made on the day of serving. It freezes well for up to one month. Ideally, it should be frozen filled and rolled but un-iced, then iced once defrosted, which ensures the icing keeps a nice shine. Defrost in the fridge overnight to serve.
“This recipe was thought up by Lucy, my assistant,” says Mary. “Quick to prepare and easy to share – make in a traybake, cut into squares and it is perfect for a small tea or as a canapé.”
175g (6 oz) apricots, chopped
3 tablespoons brandy
175g (6 oz) butter, softened
175g (6 oz) light brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
175g (6 oz) plain flour
225g (8 oz) raisins
225g (8 oz) currants
225g (8 oz) cherries, quartered, washed and dried
To finish and decorate…
A little apricot jam, warmed
500g (1 lb 2 oz) packet ready-made almond paste (Golden Marzipan)
500g (1 lb 2 oz) packet ready-to-roll white icing
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 160ºC/Fan 140º/Gas 3. Grease and line a 30 × 20cm (12 × 8 in) traybake tin with non-stick baking paper.
STEP 1: Measure the apricots into a small bowl, pour over the brandy and leave to soak overnight or until all of the brandy is absorbed.
STEP 2: Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric hand whisk until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
STEP 3: Bake for one to one-and-a-quarter hours until golden brown. Insert a skewer to test – if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Set aside to cool.
STEP 4: Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and then roll out a rectangle of marzipan the same size as the top of the cake. Lay this on top of the cake, and then brush the marzipan with a little more jam. Roll out a rectangle of icing the same size as the cake, and then cover the marzipan with the icing.
STEP 5: Slice into squares and serve with a cup of tea.
The cake can be made, covered and iced up to two days ahead. The cake also freezes well without marzipan or icing.
* TIP: You can cut the squares as small as you like. If you are serving this as a sweet canapé, try cutting into 50.
“Traditionally, Christmas pudding is made on ‘Stir-up Sunday’ at the end of November,” says Mary. “However, the pudding can be made earlier than this if more convenient: feed it with a little more brandy or rum once it is cooked and cold, and keep in a cool place until Christmas Day.”
75g (3 oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
450g (1 lb) dried fruit (use a mixture of sultanas, raisins and snipped apricots)
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (about 175g/6 oz)
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
50ml (2 fl oz) brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding and flaming
100g (4 oz) light muscovado sugar
100g (4 oz) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
40g (1½ oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
40g (1½ oz) whole shelled almonds, roughly chopped
Preparation: Lightly butter a 1.4 litre (2½ pint) pudding basin. Cut a small square of foil and press into the base of the basin.
STEP 1: Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy or rum and leave to marinate for about one hour.
STEP 2: Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
STEP 3: Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the dried fruits, apple and liquid and stir well.
STEP 4: Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, pressing the mixture down, and level the top with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of greaseproof paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors.
STEP 5: To steam, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for about eight hours, topping up the water as necessary. To boil the pudding, put a metal jam-jar lid into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Put the pudding on to this and pour in enough boiling water to come one-third of the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about seven hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep-brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
STEP 6: Remove the pudding from the steamer or pan and cool completely. Make holes in the pudding with a fine skewer and pour in a little more brandy or rum to feed. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store the pudding in a cool, dry place.
STEP 7: On Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about an hour to reheat. Turn the pudding on to a serving plate. To flame, warm 3–4 tablespoons brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with brandy butter.
Make and cook the pudding ideally six to eight weeks before Christmas. As it does take a fair time to steam, make things easier for yourself by preparing the pudding up to the end of step 4 the day before. Keep the pudding in a cool place overnight, and steam as directed the next day. Cover the cold pudding with fresh greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool place until Christmas.
* TIP: It is quite useful to use a see-through bowl as you can then check the colour as it is cooking.