Christmas time, mincemeat and wine
If you need something to get you in the festive spirit, says Rachel Allen, then a spot of baking should do the trick. Photography by Tony Gavin
When it comes to baking, this is the time of year that I adore most. There are so many different traditions, old and new, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy over Christmas and New Year, whatever your traditions and taste may be. For some people, Christmas is simply not Christmas without a really good festive fruit pudding and an iced cake. I love how many of these recipes are handed down from one generation to the next, and how people often get so nostalgic and emotional about the favourite family recipes that they have always enjoyed at this time of the year.
If you are a lover of mincemeat, then can I recommend the mincemeat crumble cake (see page 30). Soft, vanillascented sponge sitting under juicy mincemeat and topped with a crunchy crumble completely divine with a cup of coffee or some warmly spiced mulled wine. Incidentally, it’s also great at other times of the year, but made with jam instead of the mincemeat.
The chocolate yule log (see page 30) is an insanely rich, luxurious roulade that happens to be gluten-free, and will be special enough for the Big Day, should you wish to forego anything traditional containing dried fruit. Flavour the cream filling how you wish — with brandy, orange liqueur, whiskey, or a cream liqueur like Coole Swan or Baileys; or, of course, leave the alcohol out and add a dash of vanilla extract or finely grated orange zest.
The chocolate Christmas tree, pictured above right, was one of the all-time favourite recipes in Darina Allen’s original cookbook, which was first published in the late 1980s, and is in the brilliant revised edition, available now. The tree is such a cute and festive centrepiece that’s really fun for children to make, and it also happens to be delicious to eat. If you wish, instead of the nuts and dried fruit, you can use Rice Krispies, and of course white chocolate or milk chocolate will work instead of the dark, if you prefer.
A Simply Delicious Christmas