I’ve talked before about how home bakers and cooks will often have a ‘go-to’ cookbook author, and I think this is especially true at Christmas time. So much of the joy of Christmas has to do with traditions that it’s not surprising we want our familiar favourites. We used to spend Christmases with one set of grandparents when I was a child, and although the baking had usually happened before we got there, the familiar tins containing the Christmas cake and the meringues were a part of what we looked forward to. (It never occurred to me to wonder why meringues were part of the festivities, and I only got round to asking my grandmother a few years ago. Apparently they were the result of making lemon ice cream which needed egg yolks. Strangely, I don’t remember the ice cream at all. But I digress).
That’s a rogue jam tart at the top left, made to use up the leftover pastry!
When it comes to festive domestic goddesses, I’m a Nigella girl. I make the Jewelled Christmas Cupcakes from Feast as our main cake, and the star-topped mince pies from How to be a Domestic Goddess. But I also like adding new traditions, especially now we have a small munchkin who is really getting into the excitement of the festive period. Two years ago I started a new tradition of making the Christmas cake on October 16th because that was my due date, and given my family propensity for 42 week pregnancies I was pretty certain that the last thing I would be doing that day was giving birth (I was correct). That tradition lasted precisely one year, but since then I have added a stellar non-yeasted stollen to the repertoire from a recipe my neighbour gave me, and I’ll be making meringues this year too.
So far this year my baking has been slow to get started, but the cake is made and sitting in a tin begging to be fed with brandy before it’s too late, and we have a tin of mince pies being nibbled away at by the Scientist and any visiting guests. On the subject of my last post these were made in conjunction with Munchkin, who rolled out the pastry with great zeal, chanting ‘rolling rolling rolling’ as he did it, cut out the circles (he didn’t seem to approve of the stars and indicated this by throwing the cutter across the kitchen, but I snuck them in at the last minute), and filled the pies with mince meat (also Nigella’s recipe, and made this year with apples from Munchkin’s grandparents’ garden). He wasn’t moved to try them; I think that mince pies are a bit of an adult taste, plus he was a bit unimpressed that we weren’t making cake. We may have to rectify that in our next baking session….