christmas-cakes.jpgCan I just start by saying how much I love Christmas cakes? I love how, when they’re baking, they make my house smell like the holidays, and I love how they look as pretty as they smell. Whether you dress these types of cakes up or serve them plain with just a drizzle of white icing, they’ll still be the first thing people grab from the table.

But what makes up a Christmas cake, and how are they different from other cakes you’ll make throughout the year? In the case of holiday cakes, the devil is in the details, or the ingredients at least. Ginger, peppermint, nutmeg, and mocha are big flavours at Christmas, so make sure you stock up before you get down to baking.

Here are my absolute favourite Christmas cake recipes.

Chocolate Decadence Yule Log yule-log.jpg

Ah, the Yule Log! It’s a Christmas tradition around here, and it took me a few years of making it before I finally figured out how to get it to roll perfectly into a round log instead of flat, sort of round shape. The trick is to NOT use a thick tea towel. It has to be thin, so the cake peels away easily when you roll it. Recipe and image from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened
chocolate
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking
chocolate
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly spray a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan and line with parchment paper. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high for several minutes until they are very pale and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar, beating 1 to 2 minutes more or until very thick. Gently, but thoroughly, fold in the flour mixture.Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons of water with the 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the baking soda, then gradually stir into the melted chocolate until smooth. Quickly, but thoroughly, fold chocolate mixture into batter.

 Pour batter into prepared 10×15 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Lightly sift an even layer of confectioners sugar over a cloth napkin or tea towel (do not use Terry-cloth). Flip the cake out of its pan onto the prepared cloth as soon as it comes from the oven. Carefully peel away parchment paper. Lightly dust top of cake with confectioners sugar, then trim away crisp edges. Starting with one of the short sides of the cake, immediately roll the cake up in the cloth, jellyroll style, and cool thoroughly on a rack.

For the Filling and Frosting: In small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate.

Chocolate-Peppermint Cake chocolate-peppermint-cakel.jpg

Martha, martha, martha, you really know how to make an amazing Christmas cake. I made this one last year for the first time ever when I had a party I had to go to and had nothing to bring, and it is so easy, I’ll make it every year. It tastes like chocolate mixed with candy cane. Recipe and photo from MarthaStewart.com.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Chocolate-peppermint whip cream for serving (optional)
  • Chocolate shavings or crushed peppermint candies, for serving (optional)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches water to a boil. Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl; set over (not in) water. Turn off heat; let stand until melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir to combine. Remove bowl; cool 5 minutes.

Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then eggs and buttermilk until combined. Fold in flour mixture until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake pulls away from sides and a toothpick inserted in center has a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert onto a wire rack (and leave inverted) to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Set cake on a serving platter. Tuck parchment or waxed paper under sides of cake. Pour chocolate icing onto center of cake and spread evenly over top and sides.

Let set, about 40 minutes. Serve cake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or peppermint candies, if desired.

Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cake gingerbread-cake.jpg

It’s better than Gingerbread cookies, I swear. This Gingerbread Cake gives you more of that amazing molasses flavour and fills your house with the scent of ginger and cinnamon. It doesn’t need icing either – it’s perfect on its own. Recipe and photo from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

You can practically smell them baking, can’t you? It smells so great in my house when I’m baking these cakes that everyone hovers around the oven.

If you have a favourite Christmas cake, be sure to share in the comments. And if you need a few small kitchen appliances to get you set up for a Christmas baking marathon, be sure to check these out:

breville-stand-mixer.jpg 
Perfect cakes are simple when you have a stand mixer in your kitchen
10322559.jpg 
A round cake pan is a must for fancy holiday cakes

wilton-ultimate-cake-decorating-set.jpg

Holiday cakes can be as fancy as you’d like them to be, and a cake decorating set will make sure you have all the tools you need to decorate

Feature image from taste.com.au

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