|Puddings And Pies
||[Nov. 18th, 2007|10:23 am]
You can laugh all you like at traditional English cooking, but no-one does desserts like we do. No-one else even really tries. The continental Europeans make finicky little pastry things- and very good they are too- and the Indians have all those brightly coloured sweets, but there's nothing in any other national cuisine to match our puddings and pies.|
British deserts are heavy. They're comfort food- stodge- a defence against the British weather. The miracle ingredient is suet.
I was talking to Judy about Christmas puddings and mince pies. Judy is a New Yorker and she wasn't sure she'd ever had either. I was incredulous. I can't imagine Christmas without puddings and pies. Oh, and cake. These are the things that make the winter months bearable. I'm being entirely serious when I say that Christmas pudding- served with brandy butter for preference, but custard or cream will do- is the most delicious dish known to Man.
I've already started making mince pies. I make a batch, we eat them, I make some more. It's what's keeping us going. Ailz tells me I have a particularly light touch with pastry.
I've had very few Christmas puddings, but mince pie is a regular in our household. We make our own mincemeat, usually vegetarian but sometimes --- as this year --- with meat, usually beef. We're probably going to make ours tomorrow.
Then there are my favorite Christmas delicacies: Welsh cakes and bara brith. Took me ages to come up with gluten-free casein-free versions, but I have them now and they're almost as good as the originals. I usually only make Welsh cakes once or twice a year because they're finicky and a lot of work. Now's the time, though. Must dig up the recipe.
I have to confess I don't know what a Welsh cake is. Or bara brith.
I am curious....
Welsh cakes are known in Wales as cage bach, if that tells you anything. They're a basic descendant of the medieval griddle-baked sweet cake. They involve flour, sugar, butter, suet, sultanas, spices, and an egg. You roll the dough about 1/3 inch thick, cut it in rounds, and bake them on a griddle until brown on both sides. Most of the work is in the rolling, as the wrong thickness results in a flop (too raw or too hard). They're rich enough to kill you if you eat too many, but it would be a happy death. ;)
Bara brith is a light-colored tea bread, made with sultanas and either marmalade or candied peel, and often using cold tea for the liquid. It comes out a golden color and isn't overly sweet. Much lighter than fruitcake. Very nice sliced thin and buttered.
Neither of these are technically Christmas foods, it's just that my Welsh ex-pat maternal family used to serve them at Christmas with manic predictability, and only irregularly at other times of year. They also always including mashed-carrot-and-turnip among the Christmas veg. That's another seasonal favorite of mine.
If you'd like recipes, say the word and I'll send them along.