Is it just me, or has this been the fastest year on record? To whizz by that is? Such is the busyness of life I have to diarise my Christmas baking ‘weekend’. All my festive baking (mincemeat, pudding & cake) takes place at the end of September or beginning of October to allow all the flavours to develop and mature, so at least some of the menu had been taken care of a few months ago. It just remained to pull it all together with essential seasonal flavours such as turkey & cranberry, chocolate & orange to name but four along with some complimentary sherry at the ready to warm and welcome guests as they arrived.
I am sure the fat man in the red suit would have been happy to take his fill from this menu had he been in the neighbourhood but I’ll let you be the judge …
- Honey roast ham & plum chutney – honey glazed ham is a classic as this time of year and I simply paired it with my homemade plum chutney.
- Egg mayonnaise & cress – I’ll let these speak for themselves.
- Smoked salmon & dill cream cheese – dill and smoked salmon are a marriage made in heaven but I used a substantial amount of fresh dill, finely chopped, to ‘season’ the cream cheese to ensure the flavours came through against the strength of the smoked salmon.
- Turkey, cranberry & chestnut sausage rolls – your Xmas dinner all rolled into one (no pun intended!) with homemade puff pastry no less.
- Cheese sablés – these little numbers definitely pack a punch with a combination of mustard and cayenne pepper and full flavoured parmesan cheese then rolled in sesame & onion seeds.
Cakes & scones
- Mince pies – there is always something very special and nostalgic every year with these as the mincemeat and shortcrust pastry recipe has been handed down in my family and I’m proud to maintain the tradition and be custodian of the recipes. I have heard it said ‘these are the best mince pies ever!’.
- Xmas cake – I have developed and honed this recipe for some years now and am relatively satisfied with the finished product. It takes a lot of care and attention to the smallest of detail from start to finish: from the preparation of the fruit (soaking it for several days), to the preparation of the baking tin (ensuring there is sufficient ‘padding’ to avoid any scorching), to the setting the oven temperature and cooking time (to prevent any drying out), to the brandy ‘feeding’ once baked (to enhance the flavour and maintain the moistness).
And to keep with the Yorkshire tradition, there had to be some Wensleydale cheese to go with it.
- Melting chocolate Xmas pudding – chocolate is strongly associated with Xmas and no menu worth its salt would be complete without it. These delectable delights are effectively a chocolate fondant with a melting centre containing crumbled Xmas pudding. I have to thank Northcote for the inspiration for this recipe. Whipped cream was served as an accompaniment.
- Hazelnut & orange meringue roulade – a classic meringue roulade with roasted hazelnuts neatly rolled up with an orange cream filling and decorated with chocolate holly leaves to add to the seasonal jollities (in case you might be wondering, I made these using real holly leaves for my stencil).
- Buttermilk scones – I didn’t think these needed any ‘seasonal tampering’. Homemade strawberry jam & clotted cream is all they needed thank you very much.
It just remains for me to wish all my guests and readers a very happy Xmas and may 2016 be all you hope it to be and more.