Chef’s Choice: Christmas Cake!

In today’s new Chef’s Choice recipe, Head Chef Chris Bratt-Rose shares the secret on the perfect Christmas cake this festive season…

INGREDIENTS:

Head Chef, Chris Bratt-Rose

Head Chef, Chris Bratt-Rose

225G BUTTER
225G SOFT BROWN SUGAR
250G PLAIN FLOUR
2 TEASPOON MIXED SPICE
1 TEASPOON CINNAMON
PINCH OF SALT
4 LARGE EGGS
50G GROUND ALMONDS
50G CHOPPED ALMONDS
JUICE AND ZEST ONE LEMON
2X ZEST OF ORANGE
3 TABLESPOONS OF MARMALADE
2 TABLESPOONS BLACK TREACLE
6 TABLESPOONS OF BRANDY
950G BRANDY SOAKED FRUIT

METHOD:

The cake is best made well in advance, so it has time to mature with lots of weekly ‘feeds’! However it’s still delicious after a couple of feeds…

• Cream the butter and sugar
• Whisk the eggs together and beat into the creamed butter and sugar bit by bit
• Sift the flour, spices, ground almonds and salt, then add to the cake batter and mix in.
• Mix in the chopped almonds, zests, juice, marmalade, black treacle and brandy.
• Place in a lined 8” tin (lined with 3 layers of greaseproof paper) bake at 140°c for 3-3.5 hours.
• After the first 30 mins cover the top of the cake with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
• Once cooked (an inserted knife blade come out ‘clean’), leave to cool in the tin for 45mins, then remove and finish cooling.
• Remove the paper from the top of the cake and make several small holes in the top with a knife and ‘feed’ the cake with drizzles of brandy, repeat this once a week.
• The day before you are planning to serve the cake, remove the lining paper and decorate in your preferred way – suggestions: marzipan and royal or fondant icing or glazed fruit and nut topping, with an apricot glaze.

1 month to go – Panto countdown begins…

Oh yes it is! Just one month remains until we open Britain’s biggest pantomime right here in Birmingham…

Last week we were joined by two of the stars of the show, Blue’s Duncan James who plays Jack and Coronation Street’s Chris Gascoyne who takes on the role of the evil Fleshcreep as they met members of the media for an exclusive chat ahead of the beginning of rehearsals in a few weeks time.

As the countdown continues we thought we would share with you some great shots from last week’s launch day…

#brumpanto

It’s time to Give Big again this Christmas – with ‘The BIG Give’

Time is ticking away and we are getting ever closer to this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge when you can help someone see a special Pantomime performance… oh yes you can!

Last year, for the first time, we adapted one performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so that it was suitable for anyone on the autism spectrum, with learning disabilities, or with a sensory and communication disorder.

It was our first ‘relaxed performance’ and it went down brilliantly.

Special technical adaptations to the performance were made (such as reduced sound levels and lighting adjustments, plus some adapted special effects); soft play and breakout spaces were kitted out for patrons to relax in before or during the show (this was particularly important for many young patrons visiting us for the first time); extra training and support was arranged for our front of house team; and, with some special needs teenagers, we created a short preview film for patrons to see exactly what was in store. Ticket prices were also heavily discounted.

As an unsubsidised charity ourselves, we were only able to achieve all this through the generous help of supporters like you who contributed donations as part of The Big Give.

The feedback from last year’s visitors about what the staging of this special relaxed performance meant to them was inspirational:

“Thank you for thinking so much about being an all-inclusive venue – it really matters!! Probably more than you will ever realise.”

“I thought it was brilliant. Just brilliant. I’ve waited 9 years to be able to take my autistic daughter to the theatre and for her to enjoy it.”

MAKE A DONATION – MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
This year’s target: £24,000

This year for Jack and the Beanstalk, we have set ourselves the ‘gigantic’ target of raising a total of £24,000 to make our relaxed performance on 29 Jan 2015 even bigger and better than last year. Already grant-making trusts have donated nearly £6,500. But we still need to raise £6,000 in online donations in December, which will then be doubled.

It’s so simple: From 10am on Thurs 4 December, Fri 5 December and Sat 6 December your donation could be doubled via the Big Give Christmas Challenge, just visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com/biggive

Only with your help will all this be achievable. So please put those December dates in your calendar, keep your eyes peeled for our blogs, emails and reminder tweets in the coming weeks; and spread the word with friends and family.

The countdown continues…….
The Big Give was founded in October 2007 and enables donors to support their favourite charitable projects. Since its launch, The Big Give has raised over £50 million, with the majority of this raised through Challenge Funding, where donations made on the specific dates are doubled. Last year the campaign raised over £11 million for 387 participating charities.