So my latest offering is really two recipes in one because I made Ballymaloe mincemeat crumble cake using Rachel’s very own Mincemeat recipe. I’m telling you, I felt very Delia-ish making it. My kitchen TV is permanently tuned in to the Food Network or the Good Food channel and so I had Delia’s Classic Christmas on quite a bit over the past few weeks. Although the series was filmed may years ago, the woman hasn’t sold over 21 million books for nothing. She really knows her stuff and, even back then, she was way ahead of the game. Making homemade mincemeat is exactly the type of classic cooking that Delia would teach and, up until recently, I wouldn’t even have entertained the idea of making my own! Why would I go to the bother of making mincemeat when all I have to do is buy it in the supermarket? Surely M&S is just about the best type to be bought?! As I contemplated whether or not to make it, I kept thinking about that episode of Friends - the one where Rachel made the trifles and put minced beef into the dessert instead of mincemeat but, hey, I wasn’t about to do that! So, having looked through the ingredients for the recipe, I thought I couldn’t really go wrong and it was worth a try so here’s how it went…
The mincemeat had to be made at least two weeks in advance of its use which is what I did before moving onto the Ballymaloe mincemeat crumble cake for New Year’s Eve. The mincemeat started off with cooking apples which I peeled, cored and cut into large chunks. I then added a small bit of water and let them cook on a low heat until they were really soft. Once done, I let them cool before moving on to the next part. In a very large bowl (use a really big one!), I added raisins, sultanas, currants, chopped mixed peel, soft dark brown sugar, mixed spice, the juice and zest of two oranges and two lemons and small bit of Irish whiskey (Jameson to be exact!). The recipe gave the option of using either shredded suet (eugh!) or chilled and grated butter so you know which one I went for. Yes, must keep my shares up with the Kerrygold! I was also supposed to add nibbed almonds but the supermarket was sold out of them so I just chopped up blanched almonds and added them instead. Once the apple was cool enough, I added it to the large bowl and mixed everything.
I always have a great stock of Kilner jars about the house so I sterilised a few of them by simply running them through the dishwasher and then added the mincemeat mixture to them. According to the recipe, the mincemeat recipe can keep up to 1-2 years in a cool, dark place. Not that I suspected my mixture would have the chance to keep that long.
Then, we fast-forward to two weeks later and to making the Ballymaloe mincemeat crumble cake. I began with the crumble which was very simple – self-raising flour, caster sugar, butter (chilled and cubed) and flaked almonds. I just crumbled up the ingredients but added the almonds in last. Next on the list was the cake mixture which consisted of flour, soft, light brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and butter. I whisked the ingredients gradually using my electric hand-held whisk and then folded in the flour before putting it into a prepared spring-form cake tin. I was surprised at how thick the cake mixture was so I added in another tablespoon of milk to absorb all the flour. It literally ended up as one large blob which I smoothed around the base of the cake tin using the back of a dessert spoon. I then added some of the homemade mincemeat on top of the cake mix followed by the crumble mix. Into the oven it then went for 50 minutes. I took it out and checked it with a metal skewer but thought it could do with another 5 minutes….and then another 5 minutes….hey, it must be my oven!!! The cake had to sit for 20 minutes and then I carefully managed to get it out of the tin and onto a plate using a large, thin knife without breaking it. Phew!!! Lastly, I dusted off the cake with some icing sugar and served with freshly whipped double cream. Yum!
Okay, now I can understand the difference between shop-bought mincemeat and homemade mincemeat. They really are worlds apart. I’m not an expert on mincemeat but I can confidently say that if I had to do a blind-folded taste test of many different varieties of mincemeat, I could now tell the difference between the shop-bought ones and the homemade variety. Do I now think it’s worth the hassle of making my own? Erm, yes, I do! I’m definitely a convert and, to be honest, it really wasn’t a whole load of work. I mean the only cooking involved in making mincemeat is softening two cooking apples. The rest of the recipe is flinging the rest of the ingredients into a bowl.
As for the cake itself, it was beautiful! The bottom layer is very cake-y, then the thin layer of (homemade) mincemeat (yum!), followed by the even yummier crumble with the almonds (delish!). If you want a Christmas recipe with a slightly different slant on using mincemeat, then this is it. The different layers meant different textures and I loved that about the recipe. The inclusion of the flaked almonds in the crumble really makes a difference. The verdict is 9 marks out of 10 from me. Dear Husband, who isn’t a fan of mincemeat surprisingly awarded this recipe an amazing 8 marks out of 10 so that’s as good an indication as any that this recipe is really, really good.
Overall, the cake is very easy to make and not very time-consuming – just be sure to have the mincemeat made a couple of weeks in advance. It’s definitely worth the effort though and, without doubt, it will be top of my Christmas culinary list next year. In the mean time, Happy New Year everyone!