Baking a Christmas cake or a batch of mince pies, mixing up muffins or a meltingly mouthwatering chocolate cake may not carry any moral weight, and it’s not going to win you the Nobel Prize, but it makes you, and those around you, feel blissfully immersed in the sort of Christmas we’d like to believe in, all log fires, hushed snowfall and harmony.
Yet, if the picture-perfect Christmas is a dream, or an illusion, baking brings an irrefutable sense of satisfaction, and helps to bridge the wistful gap between fantasy and reality.
The Edible Christmas Tree Decorations you bake and ice and hang from the tree, the richly fruited, and gluten-free, Gorgeously Golden Cake you stir up, or the darkly dense Chocolate Fruit Cake you give to friends who drop in for tea – these are all real components of that Christmas we want to feel exists beyond the mania which threatens to envelop us at this time of year. I don’t promise you can cook yourself calm, but I believe it makes sense to snatch moments when you can quietly busy yourself in the kitchen – frankly doing nothing much more effortful than stirring – and give yourself up to the encompassing warmth that comes from a sense of purpose, the benediction of productivity.
Where else to start but with the traditional Christmas cake? My Easy-Action Christmas Cake is blissfully undemanding – it couldn’t be more simple and produces a cake that is as dense, aromatic and fruity as you could hope for. You can decorate however you like, but I feel you can’t go wrong with Smooth Hatbox Icing and some seasonal cutters.
This is after all the season of glorious indulgence, so I have to give you my utterly ravishing but easy and no-cook Italian Christmas Pudding Cake. This is a real showstopper and the pomegranates on top not only look beautiful but are also thought to bring luck – all in all, it’s an indispensable addition to your Christmas table.
Another Christmas cake sure to give joy and impress is my Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake. Here, the tin does the hard work for you: and the cake itself is simple yet delicious. And feel free to spice it up, should you wish.
If it’s chocolate you’re after in your Christmas cake, may I recommend my Yule Log? It's easier to make than it looks and gives real festive flourish. Or Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake, a densely damp aromatic treat, which also happens to be gluten-free.
And why not start the Big Day off with Christmas Morning Muffins? They make Christmas morning special, without spoiling anyone’s appetite for the feast to come. And, what’s more, they fill your kitchen with seasonal cinnamon orange scents of Christmas. Let the aroma of Christmas baking fill the air and bring joy to your world. For Christmas, like charity, begins at home.