I’ve rarely ‘done’ Christmas. When my kids were small we nearly always went to my parents’ home and they cooked; in recent years I’ve often gone to my brother Adam’s; last year I was at my daughter Nicola’s; the rare occasion I’ve hosted Christmas my son or daughter have stepped in offering to cook the turkey … or large chicken … or one year a duck because there were just three of us. I don’t think that’s a reflection on my cooking (at least I hope not!) but part of everyone joining in. And I seem, much as when I was a teenager, to have taken up the role of cooking the cakes and desserts. I don’t, however, make a Christmas pudding. I have in the past and I do love them, and Christmas without Christmas pudding just wouldn’t be Christmas for me, but these days I just buy a good ready-made one. So, there will be no turkey recipes from me (although you will find a great leftover turkey recipe here: Turkey, Aubergine & Chickpea Curry) but I thought I’d highlight some Christmas recipes already on the blog.
Last-Minute Light Christmas Cake
My family aren’t fond of dark, rich, traditional Christmas cake but love Dundee cake, so that’s been our standard cake for Christmas for many years. It’s really easy to make and you can make it very last minute, which means no panic if you’re a bit behind with preparations. It benefits from a few days’ maturing but isn’t the kind of cake you’d make weeks in advance. Click here for recipe.
I recently wrote about making homemade panettone for the first time. It’s my family’s favourite for Christmas morning when we have carols playing in the background and exchange family presents by the Christmas tree. While the presents are unwrapped we eat panettone and drink coffee or tea. If you’ve never made a sweet bread it might sound a bit daunting but this recipe for Panettone Three Ways (click here) is fantastic and so very easy to do. If you love panettone do try it, and like me, you can put different fillings in to make each member of your family happy.
My family insist that I make mince pies. There is absolutely no way I can escape making them for our Christmas meal. And, with all due modesty, I think I can say they really are much nicer than any I could buy, except maybe at an artisan bakery; certainly much better than the best supermarket ones. It’s a family tradition. Once my mother made them, now I do. The year I wrote about them on the blog, my son Jonathan had even gone so far as to make homemade mincemeat to fill them with a friend, so they were particularly special. I don’t make my own mincemeat but I do buy good quality varieties and, of course, make my own sweet crust pastry. Click here for recipe.
Christmas Brandy & Vanilla Ice Cream
We’ve always liked brandy sauce with our Christmas pudding but a couple of years ago I decided to experiment and make a brandy ice cream. It was a great success! It has all that brandy-laced creaminess you’re looking for to complement your pudding, but the frozen ice cream melts into the hot pudding and is simply divine. It also has the extra bonus that you can make it well ahead of Christmas Day and keep it in your freezer, bringing it out to soften a little a few minutes before serving dessert on the big day. Click here for recipe.
A lot of heavy and rich food is usually eaten at Christmas so we can find ourselves craving something light and refreshing. This clementine sorbet is perfect. What can be more Christmasy than clementines. Santa has always put them in stockings in our house. Like the ice cream above, it has the advantage that you can make it well in advance and it makes a brilliant alternative to all the usual desserts on offer at Christmas. Click here for recipe.
Pears Poached in Mulled Wine
Another lovely light dessert but still very Christmasy with the gorgeous mulled wine (click here for my mulled wine recipe). You could offer this at the Christmas meal to those who don’t like traditional pudding or it’s a great dessert for Boxing Day when we’re often feeling a bit overfull still. You can serve it with cream, or crème fraîche is particularly lovely. And there’s always the Brandy Ice Cream above, if you’ve made it. Click here for the poached pear recipe.
Have a very happy Christmas and all good wishes for a brilliant New Year!