I miss eggnog.
Living in Switzerland means a lot of great Christmas things: Brunsli, Christmas Markets, Glühwein.
But there's no nog.
Although I occasionally make my own, nothing beats the ease of wandering down to the local Mac's, picking up a carton (or three), spiking it with rum and crème de menthe (if you've never had minty nog, it's the best ever and will change your eggnog drinking life), and letting that big eggy rush hit you...
But what does that have to do with this elegant pinecone cake?
It tastes like eggnog!
I didn't intend it when I made it, but there is something deliciously noggy about this cake. It brings back numerous Christmas tree decorating sessions, nog in one hand, rum bottle in the other.
It might be the four eggs in the cake batter. Or the dashes of cinnamon. Or the lashings of rum.
Whatever it is, it's Christmas.
Although the decoration takes a chunk of time and a steady hand, the cake itself is not difficult to make.
Swiss domestic master Elisabeth Fülscher inspired the decoration (see photo), and I used her biscuit recipe for the cake (for more on her, see my post here).
The icing is a super simple buttercream, spiked with rum and cinnamon, and the decoration is hundreds and hundreds of toasted, flaked almonds.
For the cake:
160 g sugar
pinch of salt
shot of rum
140 g flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a little butter to grease the edges of the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, salt, and rum until creamy.
In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour and cinnamon. Fold into the egg mixture.
Pour the batter into the baking sheet and spread with an offset spatula. It will be a very thin layer.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture has set and starts to turn golden.
Let cool completely before cutting it out.
For the icing:
200 g butter, soft
180 g icing sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 shot rum
Make the icing:
In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.
In a separate bowl, sieve together the icing sugar and cinnamon. Add this to the butter and mix well.
Add the rum and mix well.
For assembly and decoration:
around 200 g flaked almonds, toasted to your desired colour
a pine twig tied with some ribbon
To cut out the cake pieces, you will want to make a cardboard pinecone-shaped template. It's easiest to make your template based on the plate you would like to serve the cake on.
Now, cut out increasingly narrower pinecone shapes from the cake. One trick is to use your template, then cut away a bit of the border from the template with every layer of cake.
You will probably have some leftover cake for snacking.
Place four strips of parchment in the shape of a square on your serving plate, then place the first layer of cake on top (you want to use four separate strips so that you can pull them away later, once the icing and decorations are finished, and not have to move the entire cake).
Dip a pastry brush in rum and anoint the cake.
Add a dollop of icing and spread evenly over the cake. Repeat until you have a pinecone shaped cake. Cover with more icing to round out the shape of the cake.
Now comes the fiddly part. Starting at the tip of the pine cone, add flaked almonds in layers until you get to the top. This will take awhile.
One you have covered the cake, stick your be-ribboned pine twig in the top.
- Be careful when toasting your flaked almonds, they can go from golden to black extremely quickly. Trust your nose. Once you can smell them, stay nearby and stir frequently with a wooden spoon.