If, according to the old nursery rhyme, little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, these ingredients are even more essential in the make-up of Christmas cakes and puddings. Few gifts are simpler to make and give more satisfaction when finished, or more pleasure when received, than a ribbon tied basket of fresh Christmas cakes. Family and friends will surely be warmed by a taste of home-cooked sweets made from these holiday cake recipes. Two things only are necessary for success in making the little fancy holiday cakes that rival those in the confectioner's window.
An attractive Christmas gift for a friend away from home is a basket or box filled with homemade cakes and candies.
First, bake with simple satisfactory holiday cake recipes, easy to make, pleasant to taste and sure to cut and handle well. The plain cake recipe given here is a standard two-egg cake recipe that may be used in layers or in cupcakes as well, if desired. In such a simple recipe the real cake flavor of sugar and eggs well blended by baking is apparent.
Next easiest to Christmas cakes are the old favorites—plum puddings and fruit cake. Wrapped in plastic wrap, covered with white crepe paper and merrily tied with red ribbon, with a sprig of holly on top, their holiday wrappings will conform to their high quality. The fact that they may and should be made weeks or even months in advance of the Christmas season recommends them as gifts to those thrifty souls who like to have their Christmas preparations well out of the way before the holiday season begins.
For cutting into Christmas cakes, the single recipe should be baked in a shallow pan having proportions about eight inches by twelve inches. This amount will cut into approximately a dozen individual cakes. Round, star, diamond, square or rectangular cookie or cake cutters are usually selected for these cakes. Where the cakes are cut from a plain layer, they are of uniform depth and the edges are even and clearly defined. Should the layer of cake rise in the center more than elsewhere, cakes of uniform depth can still be secured by carefully planning the cutting. This uneven baking in the layer or loaf cake can usually be prevented by pushing the cake mixture away from the center of the pan toward the corners with a spatula or broad-bladed knife or spoon just before putting it in the oven.
Another cake that is excellent for cutting into Christmas cakes is a type of sponge cake sometimes called a boiled-icing cake. A first glance at the recipe may lead one to think that some mistake has been made and a recipe for cake frosting given rather than one for cake. However, once tried this method of making sponge-cake will be recommended highly.
Second, and now for the really fancy part, the icing and the decorations. Again two things are necessary; a tried and true icing that will not go wrong and a limitless imagination. After much struggling with elaborate twice-cooked marshmallow and other methods for making icings, all involving fuss and bother, a simple and very satisfactory icing has been evolved. This recipe for cake decorating icing is very light and fluffy, has a nice gloss, handles easily and dries quickly. Cut cherries, blanched almonds, whole or cut, grated coconut, candied wintergreen leaves, cut citron or other candied fruit may be used to form any number of designs. The person who is clever with a sketch pencil can create with a toothpick and melted chocolate any design her fancy chooses. Or use one of the cake top patterns provided. [Author: Lucile Brewer]
There are four fundamental materials which form the corner stones of the edifice of cake baking— flour, butter, sugar & eggs. With these alone, used in different proportions, a countless variety of savory and delicious cake recipes can be attained.