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

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES -

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.

Happy bak­ing!

A Sim­ply De­li­cious Christ­mas

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