Pudding or Mince Cakes, Kunal Vijayakar on Making Christmas Classics at Home

Pudding or Mince Cakes, Kunal Vijayakar on Making Christmas Classics at Home

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Another Christmas, and it looks like it’s going to be a ‘silent night’. The new Omicron variant has secured a demure and gloomier season, at least in most of Europe and the west. By the time you’re reading this, chances are we’ll be facing some brakes and foreclosures too, at least at the big, collective parties. For me, it doesn’t really matter because Christmas has always been a household affair with friends. The Broacha Christmas Tree rises on the first of December. Cyrus Broacha’s mother, Olivia, who is a true Goan Catholic, turns on her CD player at 8am and all busy Jain Malabar Hill echoes to Jim Reeves’ baritone whipping “Merry Christmas” and “The First Noel. “. In the good old days, Broacha and I had the most collapsed Christmas Eve party ever. Just bottles and bottles of alcohol, potato crackers, peanuts, and rock ‘n’ roll. However, what I will miss is the late Alyque Padamsee’s Christmas Eve party at her home, which was also called “Christmas Eve.” A traditional beer and a ‘Bhel’ party where we’d be mid-sea, at midnight, while Ernie Flannnigan would play Christmas carols on his keyboard, and the greats of publicity would try their luck with a jingle, and old Alyque would threaten to call the police. Ciro and me.

Of course, this does not mean that food is not an important part of Christmas. It definitely was and still is. At Broacha’s, there would be a table stacked with Pork Vindaloo, Glazed Ham, Potatoes, and Boiled Egg Salad, with some Sali-Boti and Pulao Daal at Broacha’s Christmas lunch. A perfect Parsi-Goa party. Christmas Pudding and Brandy Sauce to top it off. Also boxes and boxes of marzipan, kulkuls (sweet, fried morsels), Baath or Badca, a traditional Goan coconut cake, coconut snowballs (dried coconut side) and Neureos (a bit like Maharashtrian Karanjis) and more. These, of course, are very Goan sweets, but since we can all be stuck at home this season, there are a ton of cakes and sweets that are time-honored Christmas classics from all over Europe and the world, that we could actually make at home, all you need is an oven, some ingredients, and some zeal. Let’s start with the most common ones. The classic Christmas cake or pudding.

Christmas cake or pudding

They are quite the same but different. Christmas fruit cake contains dried fruit, nuts, and spices that have been soaked in rum, brandy, or wine for possibly even a year and then made with butter and baked in the oven. Often times a Christmas cake is topped with marzipan and royal icing. On the other hand, the Christmas pudding also contains flour, sugar, dried fruits such as raisins, currants and nuts soaked in alcohol. But the Christmas pudding is steamed and served with a creamy brandy sauce.

Stolen

In Germany, tradition insists on Stollen, a moist, flaky yeast bread with dried fruit, candied citrus peel, walnuts and spices, which is baked and then covered with a thick layer of butter and sugar. This is then dusted with powdered sugar. Keeping in mind this German recipe and the tradition, which is over 700 years old, the Stollen has many permutations, such as Mandelstollen (made with almonds), Nuss-Stollen (with walnuts), Butterstollen (with a lot of butter) and Marzipanstollen.

Gingerbread

Also from Germany, Lebkuchen is a Christmas cake sweetened with honey. Catholic monks created the Nürnberger Elisenlebkuchen in the 14th century and used whole, flourless walnuts to make this traditional cake with all the good things in almonds and hazelnuts.

Mince pies

Contrary to the common misstep, a Christmas mince pie does not contain meat or mincemeat. Mince pies contain a sweet mixture of dried fruit, sugar, and spices that are finely chopped and drizzled with brandy. This rich, sticky, sweet filling is wrapped in puff pastry and then baked. As part of the British Christmas legacy, mince pies have been around since the 16th century.

Panettone

Panettone is a tall Italian Christmas cake. This rather imposing cake originated in Milan and can be filled with almond marzipan, ginger, orange peel, cashews, dried apricots, and other delicious dried fruits and nuts. Most importantly, a Panettone has a light, airy texture with a rich, buttery flavor. This origin of this recipe literally dates back to the Renaissance.

Christmas log

And finally the Christmas Trunk, also called Bûche de Noël, in France. The Christmas log is a traditional French Christmas cake that uses brownie, or rolled cake, and Italian buttercream. The cake is in the shape of a wooden stump or log that is burned at home as a winter tradition in some parts of Europe. Sprinkled with sugar and decorated with green marzipan holly leaves, it represents Christmas like the others.

So go out there and find a recipe that suits you, roll up your sleeves and with a song on my lip and cake in my mouth and a prayer in my heart I wish you all a great season.

Kunal Vijayakar is a Mumbai-based food writer. He tweets @kunalvijayakar and can be followed on Instagram @kunalvijayakar. His YouTube channel is called Khaane Mein Kya Hai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the endorsement of this publication.

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