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We Wish You A Merry Christmas
It is christmas, a time to celebrate and eat cakes!
Christmas is about friends and family and food. And speaking of food, a Christmas without cakes is like a spring without flowers. And for those who practice what the rest of us eat, each and every recipe is a treasured heirloom. Handed over from generation to generation their-flavours are only enhanced with time.

Plum pudding
The plum pudding like a fruitcake contains candied fruit, raisins, spices, suet and wine but it is more moist, and is considered one of the signature Christmas dishes. Once done, make a little hole on the top, fill it with brandy and then set ablaze. In olden days a sprig of holly, with a red berry was stuck in the middle as a finishing touch. It was meant to symbolise everlasting life and of course, keep away the witches!

Stir-Up Day is the name traditionally given to the day on which Christmas puddings are made, usually the Sunday before Advent. Folk beliefs (still in-tact) lay down that every member of the family should stir the pudding, an act believed to confer good luck. It is believed that if you close your eyes even as you move that spoon clockwise and make a wish, it is likely to come true.

What about the charms? The tradition of inserting inedible trinkets into holiday foods is ancient, descending from pagan rituals for good luck and fortune. An old coin cooked in the pudding supposedly brings wealth to whoever finds it. Of, course, if the coin is replaced by the ring, the belief goes that the lucky finder is likely to get married soon. If it's neither a coin or a ring but a thimble it is supposed to stand for long life.

Some morbid folks even hide a bone in the pudding- guaranteeing bad luck. If don't want your guests to swallow these little surprises you could wrap them in grease-proof paper be fore stirring them in.

Yule Loa
Yule Log is a log-shaped cake usually made of rectangular slices of Genoese sponge, spread with butter cream, placed one on top of the other and then shaped into a log. It's then coated with chocolate butter cream, to simulate a bark. The cake is decorated with leaves made from almond paste, meringue and small figures. A Swiss roll (jelly roll) may be used instead of sliced Genoese cake.

You can also experiment with ice cream logs filling each layer with a different flavour. This cake is a fairly recent creation (late 1800s) of Parisian pastrycooks, inspired by the real logs which used to be burned in the hearth on Christmas Eve.

Stollen
This is a rich fruit bread/cake from central Germany. Developed in Europe during medieval times, they were traditionally saved for the holidays because they were expensive. These special holiday yeast cakes were made with the finest wheat flour, mixed with milk, eggs, sugar, and butter, sultanas, currants, rum or brandy, candied peel, and almonds.

The Stollen is painted with melted butter and dusted with sugar. A wonderfully wholesome cake this one isn't too sweet. It's perfect for Christmas tea parties and can be savoured with butter or clotted cream.
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Posted on : 19/12/2005
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