I’ve got a feeling the next few weeks will be a bit of a blur. I’m out and about selling my delicious Christmas goodies at shopping events, so I’m already feeling pretty festive (although it still feels a bit too early for full-blown Christmas songs!). If you don’t manage to see me in person (I’ll be the one humming along to “Driving Home For Christmas”), you can place an order by dropping me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m also getting ready for a luxury cake decorating class at The Dorchester (I know, how very grand!). Closer to home and close to my heart too I’m baking for a large Christmas Party for local pensioners hosted by The Ashcombe School.
Oh and did I mention that it’s my turn to host Christmas? Needless to say, the cookery books are out...
Looking at festive recipes has got me feeling all reflective about Christmas. I’ve been thinking about our family traditions and wondering what my children’s favourite memories will be when they are older and think back to their childhood Christmases. At Velvet Fig HQ we’ve been talking about traditions and especially the tradition of eating certain foods.
The recipes which follow are also the two things that I get asked most for around Christmas. I haven’t scaled these up in to larger quantities myself yet, but feel free to have a go if you are catering for lots of family and friends and let me know how you get on.
Historic facts (the serious bit)
• King George I re-established the Christmas Pudding as part of the festive feast in the 1700's, having tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding. By Victorian times, Christmas Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones that are eaten today.
• Stir-up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent) is traditionally when Christmas Puddings are made.
• Some people like to use 13 ingredients in the pudding - representing Jesus and his 12 disciples.
• All the family should have a stir, from youngest to eldest, and in an East to West motion, representing the journey of the kings.
• The alcohol used to burn on it when served represents love, light and power.
• The decorative sprig of holly on the top of the pudding is a reminder of Jesus' Crown of Thorns.
I could fib and tell you that I use a tried and tested recipe that I’ve perfected over the years as a cake maker, but the reality is I am making my own pudding for the first time this year! My grandmother always used to make the pudding, a tradition carried on by my mum and then last year I was given a pudding by the Dorchester Hotel Collection (very kind). So this year it’s my turn to have a go.
I’ve done some research and have found a recipe that I will be adding a few Velvet Fig tweaks too.
Christmas Pudding Recipe
(This should make a 1 1/2 pint pudding to serve around 8 people)
75g prunes or figs
75ml sherry or brandy
Soak the fruits for at least 24 hours
50g plain flour
75g dark muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp grated stem ginger
1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 large egg
1/2 grated cooking apple
Mix all the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl
Get all the family to give it a stir!
Add in the soaked fruits
Put into a greased pudding basin, quite tightly
Cover the basin with a layer of greaseproof, folded with a pleat in the middle
Then cover with tin foil, folded with a pleat in the middle, tie with string.
Steam in a large saucepan half full of water for approx 3 hours (make sure the water doesn't boil dry).
Stand the pudding in a cupboard until Christmas
To re-heat, boil the pudding again for approx 2 hours
Serve with homemade brandy butter, yum!
I’m also making a Yule Log for those who might not want Christmas Pudding, so here’s another recipe you can try (and here’s a bit more history too):
The Chocolate Yule Log is a traditional dessert served near Christmas especially in Belgium and France where it is known as a bûche de Noël
It represents a specially selected log burnt on the hearth as a Christmas tradition.
By some accounts, the yule log was in fact a whole tree carefully chosen and brought in to the house with great ceremony
The largest end was placed in the fire, with the rest of the log sticking out in to the room
The log was lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which had been stored away
The Yule Log was slowly burnt during the 12 days of Christmas and any part left over would be stored away until the next Christmas (not sure we’ll be storing any of our Chocolate Yule Log away for a year!)
Chocolate Yule Log
For the sponge
This serves around 8 people.
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
65g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
For the icing
275g dark chocolate
450ml double cream
Pre-heat oven to 200C/180 fan/gas mark 6
Line a 33 x 23 swiss roll tin with baking parchment
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in large bowl with a hand blender until light and pale
Sift the flour and cocoa together and gradually fold in to the egg mixture
Pour into the tin and bake for 8-10 minutes
When cooked, tip the roulade out onto a larger piece of parchment.
Roll it up with the parchment inside the roulade and allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate and 300ml of double cream over a bain-marie.
When melted ,stir it well and put in fridge to firm up to piping consistency.
Whip the remaining cream.
Unfold the roll and spread some cream and icing in the middle and roll it up.
Using a star nozzle pipe the rest of icing over the roulade to create a log effect and sprinkle with icing sugar.
I hope your festive season is a happy one, full of treats and family fun. I will be trying to strike a balance between working, cooking and having fun with my own family - whilst also thinking ahead to what next year may bring for Velvet Fig. I appreciate that I am very lucky to have a job doing something I really love – BAKING! But I will also be thinking about people who are less fortunate.
Finally, a very big thank you to everyone we’ve had the pleasure of working with this year. From a Velvet Fig HQ decked with boughs of holly (well twinkly fairy lights actually!).
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.