Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Foods to Remember

If you're planning any kind of family Christmas or Yuletide celebration this year, especially if you're hosting the event. Or even if you're thinking of what you need to do in terms of preparing food for a family gathering then now, the beginning of November, is where you need to begin your cooking. Many Christmas cakes and confectionaries need to be prepared well in advance so that they can be allowed time to mature. This is particularly the case with rich fruit based cakes and puddings such as Christmas Cake, Twelfth Night Cake and Christmas Puddings. Even Stollens are better if stored for a week or two before consumption.

With that in mind, and to help you with your festive planning here are some classic Christmas recipes for you. This first is for the traditional Twelfth Nigh cake, which is typically served at Epiphany, or the Twelfth Nigh but which can also double as a rich Christmas cake:

Twelfth Night Cake


350g butter
350g caster sugar
6 eggs, beaten
75ml brandy
350g plain flour
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
700g mixed dried fruit
50g blanched almonds, chopped
45g apricot conserve or apricot jam
900g almond paste (or marzipan)
4 egg whites
900g icing sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp glycerine
glacé fruit, candied angelica and silver balls, to decorate


Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well after each addition then add the brandy. Fold-in the flour, spices, fruit and nuts. Grease a deep 25cm cake tin and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper. Tip the cake mixture into this and tap to remove any trapped air. Place the cake in an oven pre-heated to 150°C and bake for about 2.5 hours, or until the cake is firm to the touch. If the top of the cake darkens too quickly cover with a sheet of folded greaseproof paper about half-way through the cooking. Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool in its tin for 30 minutes then tip onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Once cold cover the surface of the cake with the apricot preserve or apricot jam. Roll out the almond paste and cut just enough of the paste to go around the side of the cake. Then roll the remainder of the paste out and use to cover the top of the cake. Allow the cake to set for at least two days then prepare the icing by lightly beating the egg whites and incorporating the icing sugar into this to form a stiff paste. Add the lemon juice and glycerine and incorporate well. Then, using a palette knife spread the icing all the way around the sides and top of the cake. Place in a tin and allow to set for at least two days. When ready form a crescent of the candied fruit and anjelica on top of the cake and decorate with the silver balls.

The next recipe is a 'twist' on the classic Christmas pudding that I call the 'Roman Christmas Pudding'. It's a traditional rich Christmas pudding but made with ingredients that the Romans would have had to hand. It also uses the classic Roman combination of fish sauce and pepper in desserts. This has been so successful a recipe that I have to make it for the family every year now!

'Roman' Christmas Pudding


70g dried sour cherries
70g dried cranberries (The Romans would have used elderberries but a mix of blueberries and cranberries provides the same basic flavour)
70g dried blueberries
100g chopped dried figs (roughly chop into cubes)
70g chopped dried dates
70g chopped semi-dried prunes
70g chopped dried papaya (the Romans would have used something similar to candied oranges but papaya provides a nice flavour and a chewy texture)
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
120g dried currants
60g self-raising flour
70g dried almonds
100g roughly-chopped nuts (the choice of nuts is up to you but a mix of almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecan nuts and walnuts works well)
140g fresh breadcrumbs
100g shredded suet (beef gives a better flavour but vegetarian works just as well)
120g dark brown sugar (demarara preferably)
1 small cooking apple, grated
Juice and rind of 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime
Juice of 1 further lime
50ml oatmeal stout
5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Defritum
2 tbsp Liquamen
3 tbsp Passum (use this to be 'authentic' I would normally use 2 tbsp Madeira and 1-2 tbsp brandy or cognac)
3 eggs
1 piece (about 2cm cube) stem ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp ground pepper
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ freshly-grated nutmeg


The evening before prepare all the dried fruit and add to a large mixing bowl along with the citrus juice and peel, the pomegranate seeds, the honey, defritum, liquamen and passum (if used). Cover with a towel and leave to stand over night so the fruit absorbs the liquid and plumps up.

The following morning, add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Allow to stand for an hour or so and mix again. Meanwhile prepare your steamer and grease some pudding bowls (there should be enough mixture here to make 3 600ml puddings) and spoon in the pudding mixture. Cover the pudding bowls with foil and steam for five hours each (Remember to keep checking the water level in your steamer). Once done allow to cool and store until needed (each pudding should keep for at least six weeks in a cool place).

When you are ready to serve the pudding steam for four hours in a steamer until thoroughly cooked through. Once done turn out onto a serving plate (the pudding should slip out of its bowl quite easily). Serve with a white sauce (a classical cornflour-based white sauce could be used, but if you want a more 'authentic' Roman sauce use the flour-based one described below).

To prepare a flour-based white sauce heat 40g of butter in a sauce pan. Once the butter has melted add 2 heaped tablespoons of finely-milled flour to the butter. Turn down the heat and mix the flour into the butter until it forms a smooth, lump-less paste. Keep stirring for a minute or so to begin cooking-out the flour flavour. Now take cold milk and add about 20ml to the roux. Mix until this is a smooth paste. Then add another 100ml of milk and again mix to a smooth paste. Add another 50-80ml of milk, again mixing to a smooth paste. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. If needed turn down the heat until the mixture is quite thick. Take off the heat, add some 2-3 tbsp of brandy or cognac to thin. Grate a little nutmeg on the top and serve with the pudding.

You now have two classic Christmas recipes to make and enjoy. If you want more Christmas and family recipes then why not visit my site:

Dyfed Lloyd Evans is a cook and an internet marketer. All his recipes can be found at the Celtnet Recipes site an ever growing list of global recipes and recipe-associated information. To help with the Christmas celebrations he has now pulled all his seasonal recipes together into the Celtnet Christmas Recipes page where you will find Christmas and Midwinter recipes from ancient times to the modern day. Everything you need for a successful culinary Christmas in one place. If you want the original for my Roman Christmas Pudding then that is also avaialble.

Thanks To : all clad copper core 14 piece cookware set calphalon contemporary nonstick all clad masterchef 2 10 piece cookware set


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