Last year I did a demo at the Padstow Christmas Festival courtesy of a guest spot with local legend Adrian Oliver, my first time at the event. We were down in Cornwall for a few days and, as many people do, we had the dates in our diary for this year before we left.
The festival is quite phenomenal; if I counted correctly there were the holders of thirteen Michelin stars on the demo stage on the Sunday. The line up of chefs, sommeliers, beer experts, producers and so on is mind-boggling, even to me when I am lucky enough to class some of these people as friends.
Wild Bake wood fired pizza, burgers from the Cornish Duck Truck and a dirty Mexican from El Loco Burrito all went down well with us. Of course, you need something to wash the food down with and the find of the festival for me was the Sharp’s brewery new release, Camel Valley Pilsner. The result of a collaboration with the Camel Valley vineyard, the pilsner is seeded with Camel Valley’s Brut yeast for a final bottle fermentation.
Food and drink are at the centre of the festival but the Christmas market, music and a harbour side firework display all add to the atmosphere and it is really that atmosphere that makes the event.
A weekend in or around Padstow at any time of year is going to be good but a visit for the Christmas Festival is certainly special. And yes, next year’s dates are in my diary!
And on Twitter
Last year in December I featured clementines as my favourite ingredient for the month as, for me, they are something that really says, ‘Christmas’. It is not just the clementine though, it is all the flavours and ingredients that they pair so well with. Cinnamon, ginger, dried fruit, chocolate, caramel, brandy, cream, I could go on. And it isn’t just sweet things that work well, try clementines with prawns and chilli, a clementine pickle for a cold gammon joint or a different take on the duck and orange theme with a salad of chicory, clementines and warm sliced duck breast finished with a maple syrup and grain mustard dressing. So I make no apologies for singing the praises of the clementine again!
We are going to stick with the sweet theme for this recipe, though, and it utilises a component of my alternative mince pie from last year, clementine confit, for a take on a carrot cake. Moist cake, warming spice and a citrusy tang with the richness of a cream cheese frosting should be popular with those not really into a classic Christmas cake.
For the clementine confit
This is enough for two cakes or you could use the remainder for my alternative to a mince pie
- 8 clementines
- 500g granulated sugar
- 500g water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 black peppercorns
Start by blanching the clementines; cover with cold water, bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes, drain and refresh in cold water. Repeat three more times. In a clean saucepan, combine the sugar, water and spices and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the blanched clementines, prick several times with a cocktail stick and cover with baking parchment. Use a saucer or small plate to keep the clementines submerged and simmer very gently for around 1½ hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a blender and puree until completely smooth. Use a little of the cooking syrup if necessary. You are looking for a consistency similar to lemon curd.
For the cake
- 200ml vegetable oil
- 4 large free range eggs
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 100g grated carrot
- 65g clementine confit
- 1 heaped tsp mixed spice
- 5g fine ground Maldon sea salt
- 250g self raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 50g sultanas, soaked in boiling water and then drained
Combine the oil, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until the mixture goes pale and begins to thicken. Stir in the carrot and clementine confit. Sift all the dry ingredients together and fold into the egg mix. Fold in the soaked sultanas. Divide the mix between two greased and floured 20cm sponge tins and bake at 160℃ for approximately 20 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Transfer the cakes to a rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes before tipping out to cool completely.
For the frosting
- 60g unsalted butter
- 85g icing sugar
- 300g cream cheese
- 85g clementine confit
Beat the butter until soft and fluffy, gradually add the icing sugar and then the cream cheese. Finish by whisking in the clementine confit.
- 50g clementine confit
- zest of 2 clementines
Spread the confit over the top surface of one cake and half the frosting over the other. Sandwich the two halves together and use the remaining frosting to cover the top of the cake. The frosting can be spread on with a palette knife or piped on as desired. Grate the zest of the clementines over the top to finish.
Delighted to make the front cover of the Caterer magazine with my article on Ben’s Cornish Kitchen.
Friday the 8th of December
Come and see me demo at Padstow Christmas Festival 4.15pm in the Festival Theatre. The Padstow Christmas festival is always a fantastic event with a whole host of activities going on. See my blog about last years festival here.
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