Photography © Skye McAlpine

Christmas Baking: Panettone Cake and Mince Pie Brownies

Here we share two Christmas recipes, the first comes from one of our favourite cookbooks of the year, Skye McAlpine’s A Table in Venice:

Torta di Panettone e Crema di Mascarpone e Mandorle

This is what you might call gilding the proverbial lily – but then a lot of that has gone on in Venice over the centuries. In truth, a really good panettone, light, airy and fresh from the baker, should be eaten as it is with a glass of dessert wine.

More often than not, though, the panettone we buy in boxes could do with a little extra something.

This is a wonderful way to make use of a slightly stale panettone. You simply layer it with a thick almond and mascarpone buttercream, then decorate it like a cake. Once iced, it should really be eaten within a day.

For 10

250g salted butter, softened 500g icing sugar

320g mascarpone, at room temperature

100g ground almonds

1 panettone (about 1kg)

3 glacé cherries, to decorate a small handful of bayleaves, to decorate

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Sift in half the icing sugar and be at until well combined. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the mascarpone until just combined, taking care not to overbeat or the mixture will become grainy and lumpy. Stir in the ground almonds.

Using a bread knife, slice off the ‘muffin top’ from the panettone to create a level surface; discard the trimmings (if I don’t gobble them up there and then, I cut them into small fingers to serve for breakfast or afternoon tea). Peel away the wrapping around the sides of the panettone, then cut horizontally through the middle with the bread knife to create 2 or 3 tiers of cake. How many will depend on the height of your panettone; some are a little taller and comfortably allow for 3 layers, while others are more squat and allow for 2.

Place the bottom layer of panettone on a cake stand or serving dish and spread a generous dollop of the mascarpone and almond cream on top. Top with the second layer of panettone (and repeat with a third layer, if you have one). Spread the last of the cream over the top and sides, then decorate with the glacé cherries and bayleaves.

A Table in Venice: Recipes from my Home by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury, £26) is out now.

The second Christmas recipe for mince pie brownies comes straight from Tom De Keyser, head chef at The Coach, Marlow:

Mince Pie Brownies

These are a fun alternative to mince pies as they are quicker and easier to make.

300g 70% Dark Chocolate

250g Diced Unsalted Butter

400g Caster Sugar

150g Plain Flour

50g Cocoa Powder

5x Whole Eggs

½ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

4 tbsp Mincemeat

Melt the chocolate and the diced butter together, allow to cool slightly.

Whilst this is cooling beat your sugar and eggs together in a separate bowl, until pale and fluffy.

Beat in your chocolate butter to your bowl of eggs and sugar. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, add your salt and baking powder. Fold in the mincemeat. Spoon into a tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180/160 fan/Gas mark 4.

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— Daisy Allsup
13th December 2018