Christmas – Baked In England – part 2

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if you didnt stuff yourself silly over the festive season.

After wanting to explode from eating far to much Christmas pudding and Christmas cake there are the additional Christmas tea time treats to look forward to. Once you get past the cold meats, the sausage rolls and the Christmas cake then comes the Pièce de résistance the yule log and the mince pies.

Yule Log
The Yule log, a great alternative to Christmas cake, or if you like me look forward to enjoying both.

The Yule Log (or bûche de Noël) is a traditional dessert served near Christmas, especially in France. Of course, the English decided that just having one form of Christmas cake wasnt enough so we stole the idea from the French and now the Yule log (as we know it in England) is a cake that is found on most tables during the festive season.

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The Yule Log (or chocolate log) is essentially a roulade. It is made from chocolate sponge, filled with chocolate buttercream, rolled to form a log shape then covered in rich chocolate buttercream. A fork is then dragged through the frosting to create a bark like texture and it is often decorated with a sprig of holly or powdered sugar to resemble snow.

The Yule Log may date back as far as Europe’s Iron Age, but in my experience it wasn’t around long enough in our house to age more than a couple of days. As a child I would go with my mum to pick up our Yule log from the local bakery and then hold onto the box with dear life as we tried to get it home in one piece. There it would sit until Christmas Day where we would have to wait for tea time to have our first slice. Of course we were still full from Christmas lunch and all the chocolates we had eaten throughout the afternoon but there was still room for a piece of the rich and beautifully sickly chocolate log.

Mince Pies
There is nothing better than the first mince pie of the festive season. Now, given that most of us have our First Mr. Kipling mince pie the first week of December, (you could always rely on someone to bring a box into the office) you would think by Christmas we would be sick to death of the blessed things. But you would be wrong…mince pies from the supermarket are okay, and always go down well with a cup of tea but there is nothing like home made pies, straight from the oven.

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Before we go any further lets be clear that a mince pie in England is not filled with meat. A mince pie is a small sweet pie, covered by pastry. The filling consists of dried fruits, suet, spices and a drop of brandy, encased in either shortcrust or puff pasty. They are one of my favorite things to eat at Christmas and in England you are expected to eat your own body weight in mince pies before the festive season is through. High street Bakers Greggs reported sales of 7.5 million during Christmas 2011.

Personally I make my own using my mums special recipe. You can find mincemeat in a lot of US grocery stores, and Robertsons (an English brand) is by far the best. This year however I could not find my jar of beloved mincemeat and so for the first time I am going to attempt to make my own…I will let you know how I get on.

So there we have it Christmas in England, where it is not so much “Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire” but more like “mince pies burning in the electric oven”!

I hope you get to try many of our wonderful traditional Christmas goodies, they come highly recommended and are  fun to share with friends while pulling a Christmas cracker.

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