Sue Watson’s Christmas Bake Off
Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love the smell of Christmas trees, the glistening baubles, the jingle-bell music, frost on the windows and fairy lights everywhere.
But my favourite part of Christmas is the food and the baking. I adore the warm smell of cinnamon emanating from the warm oven, the rich Christmas cake, the flaming pudding smothered in alcoholic cream and rum sauce and all the tasty tit-bits in between. I see Christmas as an opportunity to eat what I like because it’s a well-known fact that calories don’t count during Christmas week. All kinds of chocolate, cake, pastry, crisps and nuts are fine to eat in huge quantities – because it’s Christmas!
As baking is also a big part of my Christmas – my festive novel this year is ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off.’ It’s a story of friendship, betrayal, secrets and lies… oh and of course Christmas baking. Along with glittery baubles, a few tears and lots of laughs, there’s a very special recipe which helps to bring two old friends together – and helps remind them of who they were, who they are, and what Christmas really means.
‘Rudolph’s Red Nosed Brownies are delicious and Christmassy – and unusually for this time of year – they do have a slight health benefit because there’s beetroot in there. So don’t feel too guilty if you bake them and eat them all!
Rudolph’s Red Nosed Brownies
These delicious, cranberry studied brownies always take me right back to my childhood. Back home in the vanilla and cinnamon scented kitchen I would ‘help’ my mum by sampling the batter and scattering the dried cranberries, which we’d pretend were Rudolph noses. Every Christmas Eve, mum would leave one of these for Father Christmas and one for Rudolph, and on Christmas Morning they were gone – which is why I kept believing in Father Christmas…still do!
- 250g dark chocolate
- 100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
- 3 eggs
- 250g cooked beetroot, drained
- 250g light brown sugar
- 150g ground almonds
- 2tbsp cocoa powder
- 1tbsp baking powder
- 50g dried cranberries
- Teaspoon of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square baking tin with a little butter and line with non-stick baking paper. Leave two ‘tails’ at either side to help you lift the cooked brownie out of the tin.
Break up the chocolate into squares, place in a heatproof bowl with the butter, and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow the mixture to gently melt, while stirring gently.
Tip the beetroot into a food processor and purée, (Amy’s mum used to mash with a strong potato masher, but I love my gadgets!) Then add the melted chocolate, butter and eggs and whizz again until combined. Then add the sugar, ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon and process until you have a smooth batter. Lift the lid off – breathe in, and the sweet, spicy fragrance of chocolate and cinnamon will take you straight to Christmas heaven.
Now pour into the baking tin, sprinkle on the cranberries (Rudolph noses) and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and the brownie is starting to pull a little away from the sides of the tin.
Once out of the oven, ease the brownie from the tin with the paper ‘tails’ and cut into 16 squares. There are lots of things you can do now, you can sample the cake to make sure it’s okay (a necessity I would say!) then when cool, you could dust the surface with a little icing sugar, while singing ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.’ Or – as it’s Christmas you can go completely over the top and cover in candy, sugar strands and glitter… because there’s no such thing as too much topping!
Happy Christmas!Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson
Also by this author: Petit Four, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake, Ella's Ice-Cream Summer, Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice-Cream
Published by Bookouture on 22nd October 2015
Amazon Kindle, Audible
Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.
But this year things are going to be different.
For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.
Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…
After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…
A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.