Welcome to my 30 days of ‘Festive Baking’ Over the coming weeks I will explore some of my family’s favourite recipes, take a look at popular Christmas ingredients and spices. I will share some decorative techniques and generally excite your tastebuds for Christmas. For anyone wishing to bake along with me I will let you have ingredients lists the day before and will add a baking schedule to the end of this post.
On this First Day of Baking I am going to explore why festive baking is so important to us.
I am a lover of nostalgia, and there is nothing more nostalgic than Christmas, it is a wonderful time for reminiscing and creating new wonderful memories. My mum was a real lover of tradition and every Christmas had to include a Yule Log, mince pies a Christmas cake and a decorated container of sweets, her most elaborate was Santa’s sleigh made from cotton wool. Every Christmas Eve we would leave out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph, we would dig our way through the Christmas pudding looking for any coins and fight for the corner of the Christmas cake, you know the corner where the marzipan and icing is thicker!
I never really stopped to think about why we did these things it was simply the done thing. So, for this 30 days of ‘Festive Baking’ I thought I would start by taking a look at some of the history behind our favourite Christmas bakes.
What started out as Plum Porridge, eaten on Christmas eve was transformed into Christmas cake in the 1830s. At this time the oatmeal was removed and replaced with flour, eggs and Butter. It originally started as an Easter cake, only really available to the wealthy, only those that could afford an oven were able to bake the cake. The Easter cake was enjoyed so much that it was introduced as a Twelfth Night Cake and eventually was dropped as an Easter Cake. Over time the cake became decorated with marzipan and icing and over the years has become more and more elaborate.
However, some traditions still remain.
1.Traditionally Christmas Cake should be made in November.
2.Christmas Cakes like feeding with Whiskey, Brandy or Sherry.
3.According to the Victorians it is unlucky to eat it before Christmas Eve.
During Medieval times the traditional Christmas pudding was made from a mixture of fat, spices, fruits, meats, grains and veg. During the 16th Century an abundance of fruit led to the change over to a sweeter pudding however when Oliver Cromwell came to power he banned the Christmas pudding along with other festivities as they marked a sign of paganism. Thankfully some 50 years later George I brought back the Pudding. It became tradition that on the last Sunday before the season of Advent we would have ‘Stir Up Sunday’, believed to have come from the Book of Common Prayer’s liturgy a prayer that begins, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.
Traditionally families would come together to prepare the Christmas pudding, each family member would take a turn at stirring the mixture and making a wish, it would be stirred wrapped in cloth and stored away until Christmas Day.
Christmas pudding traditions:
1.Originally sixpences but now any coins are hidden within the pudding, if you are lucky enough to find one you will receive health, wealth and happiness in the coming year.
2.You should stir the pudding from East to West to honour the wise men who came from the East to West to visit the baby Jesus.
3.In our house it’s tradition for me to eat mine with clotted cream.
Yule logs, Originally, a Nordic tradition where a large log was burned to symbolize the battle between Good & Evil as the fire grew longer and hotter. Many countries have variations of this tradition but for me I like the tradition in Devon where bunches of twigs are burnt to resemble the twigs the that the Shepherds burnt to give warmth to Mary & Joseph.
Today the Yule Log is represented by a Chocolate swiss roll filled with Chocolate buttercream and decorated to look like a log. We often see them decorated with holly and Berries.
1.Coming from Devon, my mum loved a Yule log, every year she would bring out the same little plastic robin to sit on top. In her memory this year I will share my recipe with you and show you how to create your own little fondant Robin. (15th & 16th Nov Blog)
Mince pies were originally filled with meat such as lamb, cheese and spices they were created in the shape of the manger where the baby Jesus lay. In the middle ages a mince pie would be eaten for each of the 12 days from Christmas Day. This was believed to bring you happiness for the following year.
Today mince pies have become round filled with a sweet mince & Suet filling.
Traditionally people leave a mince pie by the fire side on Christmas Eve to keep Santa fed as he delivers our presents. It is believed that he will eat approx. 150 billion calories from mince pies eaten between the 24th-25th Dec.
There really isn’t anything more magical than sharing these traditions and wonderful foods with your friends and families so I hope you will join me over the next 30 days as we create some new memories together.
11th Nov Prepping and baking a Christmas Cake
12th Nov Giving baked goods as presents
13th Nov Cooking gingerbread with your children
14th Nov Making fondant decorations for cakes
15th Nov Creating Yule Logs
16th Nov making Fondant Robins
17th Nov Creating Edible Poinsettas
18th Nov Christmas Cookies
19th Nov Feeding your cake
20th Nov Christmas truffles
21st Nov Christmas Spices
22nd Nov Stir it up – Christmas Pudding
23rd Nov Santa Macarons
24th Nov Christmas Tart
25th Nov Spiced Christmas Sponge
26th Nov Gingerbread house
27th Nov Marzipan your cake
28th Nov Knowing your creams at Christmas
29th Nov Christmas Tree Brownies
30th Nov Christmas Dried Fruit
1st Dec Rocky Road Christmas Pudding
2nd Dec poppy Seed Citrus Cake
3rd Dec Mince Pies
4th Dec Ice and decorate your Christmas Cake
5th Dec Christmas Wreath
6th Dec Snowman cupcakes
7th Dec ???
8th Dec Christmas Trifle
9th Dec Beautiful Cakes
Wow, we are going to be busy…….
For anyone wanting to make tomorrow’s Christmas cake here are the needed ingredients. If you are hoping to make it tomorrow,I would recommend soaking your dried fruit over night in your liquor of choice, I tend to use whiskey.
Christmas Cake ingredients:
This is the ingredients I use for my 8inch tin.
8oz/227g Unsalted butter
4oz/113g Mixed Peel
8oz/227g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
12oz/340g Plain Flour
1tbsp Mixed Spice
4ozs/113g Glace Cherries
I hope you have a wonderful day. I would love to hear of any Christmas food traditions you have developed over the years. Until tomorrow happy Baking xx