Pies have a long and rich history in the UK and mince pies form a part of it. As the name suggests, these pies were originally made with minced meat, mutton to be accurate. Other ingredients in the classic mince pie recipe included raisins, currants, cinnamon and warm spices. According to the cookbook, Mrs Rundell’s Domestic Cookery, published in 1851, the traditional mince pie recipe uses 450 gms of sirloin steak and 450 gms of suet (animal kidney fat often used as a cooking medium). An odd flavour profile for most, it was only in the 20th century that meat finally bid adieu as an ingredient in the mince pie recipe, leaving the finely chopped fruits and nuts (known as mincemeat) to take over the pie.
It is said to have been oval in shape to resemble the crib that baby Jesus was born in. As time went by, mince pies became a cultural symbol and were adorned with shapes such as stars and crescents.
Mince Pie Recipe
by Chef Alok Verma, Executive Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu
For the pastry dough
140 gms Chilled Butter, cut in to cubes
225 gms Refined Flour
30 gms Castor Sugar
For the filling
150 gms Dried mixed fruits
5 gms Cinnamon powder
5 gms Mixed spice
150 ml Brandy
1 Apple, chopped
15 gms Brown sugar
Rind of 1 Lemon
- Finely chop the dry fruits and combine with brown sugar, brandy, apple, mixed spices, lemon rind and cinnamon powder. Set it aside.
- Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl, add butter cubes and rub until it resembles a fine crumb. Add little water to the mixture and fold well to combine. Leave it to rest for 20 mins.
- Pre heat the oven to 180°C. Roll the dough on a clean surface to a thickness of 5mm. Use the pastry cutter to cut circles from the dough. Cut out stars from the remaining pastry dough.
- Line the tart mould with pastry circles and carefully fill the mixture in to the pastry circles, cover with pastry stars, sprinkle some sugar and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 180°C.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down completely before serving.
The word Yule is the modern interpretation of the Nordic word Juul, which means Winter Solstice. The burning of the log was symbolic of the oncoming new season. As Christianity became more prevalent, the Yule log tradition became part of Christmas and New Year. The log was burnt gradually over the 12 Days of Christmas starting December 25 till the first week of January.
The cake itself has a French provenance. Known as bûche de Noël, the baked delight is nothing but a rolled sponge cake with frosting, designed to look like a log with an accoutrement of edible holly sprigs and sugary cobwebs.
Yule Log Recipe
by Chef Yogendra Adep, St Regis Mumbai
For the dough:
4 Eggs, yolk and egg whites separated
120 grams Sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
120 grams All Purpose Flour
For the syrup:
1 liter water
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon dark rum
For the Filling:
350 grams sweetened Chestnut puree
For the decoration:
50 grams white Chocolate
50 grams cocoa butter
10 gm green edible color
- Preheat your oven to 200⁰ Celsius.
- Mix and beat the egg yolks with sugar, vanilla sugar and all-purpose flour until the content is almost light pastel yellow in colour.
- Then beat the egg white stiff until you have a stiff snow. Test that the egg whites are stiff enough by turning the bowl with the snow upside down, it shouldn't fall out.
- Fold the egg whites carefully into the previously prepared egg yolk mixture. The aim should be that the mass remains fluffy to a certain extent and everything is well incorporated. Don't mix the egg whites in, but fold it in, this is important to keep the airiness in the mass.
- Keep a large rectangle baking tray ready with a baking sheet/parchment. Oil the baking sheet lightly with a kitchen brush. Add the whole mass on the parchment and spread it out evenly with a baking spatula. Bake the dough for more or less 10 minutes golden brown at 200⁰ Celsius.
- While the dough is baking, prepare a syrup of water, sugar and rum. Mix and heat it up until the sugar is molten. Then once the cake mass is baked but still warm, pour the syrup equally all over the cake mass. This will help to keep the yule log soft and juicy from the inside.
- Next, spread the chestnut puree equally all over the mass and roll in carefully to create the roulade.
- As the final step, melt cooking chocolate and cover the whole roulade evenly with the molten chocolate. Then cut off both ends diagonally and place on top of the chocolate on the yule log. This will give the impression of a log stump on both ends.
- Add the rest of the chocolate on all ends so that the yule log is completely covered in chocolate.
- Rest it in refrigerator to set.
- Make a spray by mixing white chocolate coco butter and edible green colour.
- Spray yule log with green colour chocolate and cocoa butter spray.
- You can embellish the yule log with marzipan figurines and icing sugar decorative pieces.
Also known as Figgy Pudding or Plum Pudding, this is yet another British Christmas favourite. The predecessor to this dessert also incorporated animal proteins. And fun fact, there are no plums in the pudding—plums refer to raisins.
The most interesting aspect of the Christmas Pudding is when it is flambéed with brandy, just before serving.
Christmas Pudding Recipe
by Executive Chef Rahul Kumar, Courtyard by Marriott, Bengaluru
1 cup Apple juice
1 cup rum
1 cup brandy
1 and ½ cup dry fruits and nuts (combination of raisin, dark raisin, seedless dates, pitted prunes, glazed cherries, tutti frutti, almonds, Cashew and walnut)
1 tbsp. Orange zest
1 tbsp. Orange marmalade (optional)
For Cake Batter:·
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ sponge crumb
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temp
¼ cup olive oil / vegetable oil
4 Egg yolks
75 gms sugar
150 gms Fresh cream
100 ml Brandy
- Finely chop all the dry fruits and nuts and mix with orange zest and marmalade. Take a jar or wide glass bowl. Combine apple juice, rum, brandy & fruits and nuts mixture.
- Make sure that all the fruits are soaked well in juice, otherwise add little apple juice and mix well. Cover it well and keep it in the refrigerator if you want to soak for a longer time. Let it soak for 15 days in refrigerator.
- Beat butter using hand whisk or electric beater till smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and honey. Beat it again till smooth.
- Add one egg at a time and beat it again. Now, add vegetable/olive oil and beat it. Keep it aside.
- Sieve maida, sponge crumb, salt, baking powder and cinnamon powder. Add flour mixture to wet mixture slowly and combine well with spatula. Finally add soaked fruits and nuts. Just fold it and add black jack in it. Don’t over-mix the batter.
- Preheat oven to 180 degree C for 10 mins. Pour this batter into the greased cake tin and cover it with silver foil and bake it at double boiling, bake for 4 to 50 mins or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Take out the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Serve it immediately or slice it and store in an airtight container.
- Mix egg yolks at double boiling for a while with sugar.
- Once sugar dissolves, add cream in it and mix thoroughly.
- Once it becomes thick, add brandy in it and mix slowly.
- Pour this sauce on pudding and serve hot.
Elaborate toy-sized houses, decorated with frosting and candies—the gingerbread house—is a fairly modern invention. The base, however, has a very long history, it goes back to Germany and then further back to the Middle East. But the most recognisable connection of this cookie confection is The Brothers Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. And if you remember the Shrek franchise, there is the gingerbread man, Gingy, who always got himself in scrapes. The singular gingerbread man first appeared in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Follow Maria Goretti’s simple instructions in this recipe video to make your own Gingerbread House at home.
Featured Image and Christmas Pudding: Shutterstock.com
Mince Pie Image Courtesy: JW Marriott Juhu Mumbai
Yule Log Image Courtesy: St. Regis Mumbai
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