Decorated Genoa Cake
“This is the recipe that Fitzbillies has always given out whenever it’s been asked to contribute a recipe to a cookbook,”; says owner Tim Hayward. “It is the recipe included in Jane Grigson’s Observer Guide to British Cookery, first published in 1984. We still make it at Christmas for those people (and there are some) who prefer their fruit cake without marzipan and icing. We always love its beautiful, jewel-like topping.”
• 150g caster sugar
• 150g salted butter, softened
• 3 medium eggs, at room temperature
• 175g plain flour
• 150g currants
• 150g sultanas
• 40g golden syrup
• 125g glacé cherries
• 75g blanched almonds
• 75g pecans
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and line an 18cm round cake tin with baking parchment so that it comes 2.5cm above the rim.
Cream together the caster sugar and butter in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in half the flour.
Mix the other half of the flour with the currants and sultanas, then carefully fold this into the rest of the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 190°C (170°C fan) and bake for a further 30 minutes until the cake is lightly golden and just springs back to the touch. If the cake is starting to brown too much, cover the top with a double thickness of baking parchment.
Meanwhile, make the topping. In a saucepan, warm the golden syrup slightly to make it more runny, then gently mix in the glacé cherries, almonds and pecans.
When the cake comes out of the oven, spread this topping over the top of the cake and press it down evenly with wet fingers. Then place it back in the oven for a further 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Leave to cool completely in the tin.
“We always make gingerbread at Christmas,” says Tim. “Gingerbread people so as to delight children and beautifully decorated gingerbread for Christmas tree decorations, with a hole to thread a ribbon and hang on the tree. They tend not to survive on the tree for long in houses where there are children (or dogs). How many you make will depend on the size of your cutters.”
• 170g caster sugar
• 100g unsalted butter, softened
• 70g baking margarine, softened
• 200g golden syrup
• 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
• 1½ tbsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp mixed spice
• For the decoration
• 250g or about ½ pack royal icing sugar (one that already includes powdered egg white, so that all you have to do is add water)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line as many baking trays as you have with baking parchment.
Cream the caster sugar, butter and margarine together in a bowl until just combined and then beat in the golden syrup.
In another bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice, then stir into the creamed mixture to form a dough. Don’t overmix, otherwise the biscuits will be tough.
Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour in the fridge. Remove from the fridge and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 6mm.
Cut out gingerbread people, houses, stars or any shape of your choice. If you would like to use them as Christmas tree decorations, use the end of a drinking straw to cut a small hole, not too close to the edge, so that you can thread a ribbon through.
Place on the lined baking trays and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes. The biscuits will rise up and then collapse – at this stage they should be ready. Remove from oven, leave them on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Once the biscuits are completely cool, you are ready to decorate. Make up the royal icing sugar according to the packet instructions. You will need an electric mixer or whisk for this.
Fit a piping bag with a no. 2 straight writing nozzle and fill it with icing – don’t overfill it or it will all squirt out the back onto your hands (or use a plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off).
Pipe a mouth, nose, eyes and buttons onto your gingerbread people and any design of your choice onto your other shapes. Leave to set for a few moments before nibbling.
Fitzbillies is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary soon. Read our feature here