Category Archives: Winter

Forest Fox – Christmas Cake 2017

Padding softly through the snowy woodland
the Forest Fox searches for somewhere safe and cosy to sleep…
and he becomes this year’s Christmas cake theme.

Forest Fox Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook - title

I decorated my cake with some of my favourite things: woodland animals, acorns, snow, autumn/winter leaves, and trees.

Forest Fox Sleepy Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I relate to the aloneness of foxes (not loneliness), so right now it is the most appropriate creature to decorate my cake. I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke a language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.’ ― Patricia A. McKillip, Winter Rose.

 

Forest Fox Trio - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook 2017

© Lisa Shambrook

I covered the cake with smooth fondant icing, concealing a mound that my fox can find shelter beneath. I made chocolate fondant logs (sadly, the chocolate fondant I found is not vegan, so is the only bit Bekah won’t be able to eat!) and a tree trunk, and filled it with fondant snowballs, sugar snowflakes, and silver and pearl sugar balls. He sleeps on a bed of winter fallen oak leaves. Acorns and holly leaves are strewn across the den and paw prints show you how he got there!

Forest Fox Acorns Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned in my last post that the cake is vegan. I used dairy-free margarine/butter (vegetable or sunflower oil based spread) and instead of eggs I used chickpea water. This worked really well. The chickpea water (aquafaba – bean water) has a strong smell of beans, so I added a few drops of vanilla essence as I whisked it. 3 tablespoons of chickpea water replaces one egg, and needs to be whisked for a few minutes until foamy then added as you would each egg. The resultant cake is lovely. The smell of beans fades with baking and the cake is firm and looks no different to an ordinary Christmas cake. Smells gorgeous while baking and tastes no different!

Next time I make a sponge cake for my vegan daughter, I will definitely be using chickpea water.

Forest Fox Woodland Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

CaptureSo, when it came to guessing how I’d decorate my cake many people looked back at my love of dragons and thought a variety of dragons could adorn my cake for a second year, but not so. Nobody except almost my husband guessed this one. If he’d switched his guess of squirrel with fox he’d have got it outright! My daughter, Cait, did guess woodland animals… But without a correct answer online I put all the names of those who’ve made a guess into a Random Name Selector and Julia came up as the winner! Julia, you’ll be getting a signed copy of A Symphony of Dragons!

Forest Fox Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas is only a few days away – and I wish you all the joy it can bring!

Enjoy your Christmas Cake!

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Christmas Cake and Competitions – Win A Symphony of Dragons

This is the time of the year we start to think of cakes and Christmas decorations.
Today I’ll be making our cake – and considering my decorating plans!

Christmas Cake and Competition 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always used the same recipe, tried and tested, but when my daughter became vegan over a year ago, I tried to make it with an egg supplement powder, so she wouldn’t miss out. The cake was still delicious, but it was very crumbly. This year, I’m going to try using chickpea water as an egg replacement. 3 tablespoons of drained chickpea water is the equivalent to one egg, lightly whip to a foamy texture for baking. I’ll let you know how well that works.

It was a great pleasure to have my Melting Snowmen Christmas Cake included in DotComGiftShop’s blog post How to Decorate your Christmas Cake. My Melting Snowmen was one of my favourite cakes to decorate…here are the other Christmas cakes I’ve already decorated over the last few years.

Which is your favourite?

Favourite Christmas Cakes - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, as it’s Christmas, and gift giving is fun, and we’ve done this before… here’s a little competition.

Next week I’ll be decorating this year’s cake. The design is planned, drawn up, and sealed away. We have this competition in my family. I keep the cake under wraps and my husband and children guess how I’ve decorated it, then they discover who’s right with the unveiling.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookI will send a paperback copy of A Symphony of Dragons to the reader who correctly guesses the design that will appear on top of my Christmas Cake this year!

(In the event of more than one correct guess, I will put names in the proverbial hat and draw one winner.)

Leave your guesses below in comments, or on my Facebook Author Page.
No guesses on my personal FB share will be counted as we’re not allowed to promote competitions on personal pages.
Be sure to comment your guess here or on my FB Author Page. I’ll add a final comment here to add FB guesses, so it remains transparent.

I don’t give clues, much to my children’s chagrin, but I haven’t repeated a design yet, so maybe that is a clue!

What will be on my Christmas Cake this year?

How are you decorating your cake?

What was your favourite Christmas Cake ever? 

Vegan Christmas Cake Recipe - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Winter Woollies – Feeling Cosy

When Winter arrives and Jack Frost’s delicate graffiti embellishes our mornings,
and we begin to breathe dragon smoke as we leave the house –
it’s time to wrap up warm and dig out our woolly hats, scarves, and gloves!
I love Winter’s chill…

Winter Woollies - Feeling Cosy - The Last Krystallos

I’m not a Summer Babe, I’m an Autumn/Winter Squirrel…I prefer hunting out my warm, cosy woollies to wandering around in next-to-nothing in the heat of summer! When I get too hot I get irritable and depressed, there’s nothing more to take off, and I hide from the sun, but in the winter I blossom. And the best thing is when it gets too cold I can layer up, curl up beneath a duvet or soft fleece, and venture out wrapped up warm in a hat, gloves, and scarf.

I need a separate closet for winter sweaters and jumpers! My go-to mild winter hat has pussy-cat ears and I love it. Then, when it’s colder, I move to my brown hat with a fluffy bobble – I stole this hat from Bekah *gazes innocently* I steal lots from Bekah…

Woollies - Cat Hat - Furry - Squirrel Hot Choc

© Lisa Shambrook

My leather jacket, Joe Browns, is a must, my trademark look, and for years I adorned it with a green scarf, and the cutest black leather gloves. My gloves are now a good age and sadly wearing out, but I love the little Victorian style buttons, I need to search TKMaxx again!

Mirror Selfie - Hat Scarf - Pine - Leather Button Gloves

© Lisa Shambrook

When the colours I wore switched up, I searched for a red scarf to match my green one, and ebay came up with the goods. The furry hood hat came from River Island some years ago and was a birthday gift. I love the tassels so much.

Reindeer - Leather - Furry Hood - Red Scarf

© Lisa Shambrook

Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. Even at home I’d rather cosy up beneath a soft fleece, and wear fingerless gloves to type, than turn the heating on for one! I adore the pair I bought up in the Scottish Highlands at the Balnakeil Craft Village in Durness.

Natural Gloves - Frost - Furry Top - Gloves Woollies

© Lisa Shambrook

What are your favourite pieces for staying warm as Winter’s chill gets nippy?
Your favourite hat or scarf, or do you love your gloves?

Jack Frost - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos.jpg

© Lisa Shambrook

Stepping softly, he shivered as he wandered the urban streets,
his dancing fingers furtively composing a silent masterpiece.
He performed his second trick of the night and vanished with the first rays of day,
exposing his intricate works of art.
All the glass of the town lay beneath a delicate lattice,
a coating of glorious filigree workmanship…
all signed, sealed, and delivered by Jack Frost himself.

(Lisa Shambrook – Clandestine – Five Sentence Fiction – January 2012)