It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least in Fanny Cradock's world. Having said that, she does start planning for the fateful day in January, such is the importance she places on the occasion. So perhaps everyday is like Christmas? For now though it's not puddings, fruit cakes, mincemeat or even decorations that has got Fanny all stirred up - it's the chance to say, although you may say uncharacteristically, 'thank-you' to all those that have supplied her throughout the year.
You see there were seemingly certain teams of people who worked for the Cradock's who they sent large gâteaux for them to eat in their offices on their last working day before Christmas. They obviously had a lot of these mystery office workers dotted around, and they all needed a suitable cake to be dispatched in time for the final hoorah of the year. Clearly the cakes had to be delicious, full-on festive and large enough for the whole team to dig in. Fanny set her own housebound team to work on the 'thank-you' cakes. Michael started by making endless swiss roll panels. The ones which never crack.
We've made them before, but I always enjoy doing them. So easy, and light, with fluffy panels resulting. As well as the panels, Fanny of course needed an almost endless supply of buttercream. She does have an unusual method for making it, or rather getting her team to make it. She starts with egg yolks. And a double-boiler. The yolks are whisked to a frenzy with icing sugar over a gentle thread of heat until pale and 'like cream'. Meanwhile, butter is also beaten until pale and fluffy, and then added to the eggy-sugar-cream mix. The result is a lovely, natural looking buttercream. It tastes pretty good too.
Fanny tends to top these 'thank-you' cakes in mocha glacé icing. It's what you think of for Christmas, isn't it? No, me neither. So I switch up the coffee for a new Scottish, foraged liqueur, or elixir, that I tried this week called Aelder. It's made by Buck and Birch, and packs a punch of herbs, botanicals and christmassy flavours of sweetness and spice. Should be perfect. Fanny borrows her recipe from Gretel Beer (who I also love) which is essentially a syrup, with added chocolate chips and a little olive oil. The Aelder makes a tempting syrup, so all looks good so far.
Fanny divides her swiss roll panel into three and build layers of with buttercream filling, before it's all topped off with the glacé icing. Fanny recommends popping the cake into the porch to cool down before the icing covering is added, although I dare say the fridge might do. I think mine might've seized up a little, but it still covers okay. All that's left is a jaunty design with the remaining buttercream and perhaps a walnut or two for decoration, before Fanny fires them off to the waiting office teams. Add in any Christmas decorations you should wish too, of course. For bigger teams, just make more (Fanny states the obvious) and add them together into long lines of cake. Then, be thankful. Do you think the office teams were?