IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS….

December 06, 2016 Food Trends; Trends

With Christmas fast approaching there’s no better time to indulge in the sweet treats we associate with the festive season. From traditional mince pies and Christmas cake to Christmas pudding soaked in brandy butter, there’s nothing better to satisfy our sweet tooth at this indulgent time of year.

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With the festivities in mind, we’ve taken a look at the history of our favourite festive treats and how they came to be the Christmas tradition that we all know today. And where better to start than the humble mince pie…

The buttery taste of shortcrust pastry coupled with an indulgent alcohol and fruit filling are the flavours we’ve all grown to love. However, the traditional mince pie hasn’t always looked and tasted this way.

Mince pies were originally coffin-shaped and later they were made in an oval shape to represent the Manger at Christmas time. During the Stuart and Georgian times in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Affluent people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made in different shapes that could only be crafted by the most expensive pastry cooks!

Traditional mincemeat was actually made from meat, usually mutton or ox tongue mixed with the usual fruit and spices that we’ve grown to enjoy today. The sugar of the fruit and the strong spices were used to preserve the meat through the winter, or more likely to hide the taste of mince pies that were well past their best! The pies were so delicious that the 17th Century Puritan movement decided that they must be sinful – although we’ll never be sure if Oliver Cromwell went as far as banning these little festive treats.

Today’s mince pies are best served warm with custard or brandy sauce and a sprinkling of grated apple or orange zest to finish!

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Christmas Pudding was originally a 14th Century porridge called ‘frumenty’ that was made from beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. This would often be more like soup and was eaten as a fasting meal in preparation for the Christmas festivities. By 1595, frumenty was slowly changing into a plum pudding, having been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and given more flavour by adding beer and spirits.

By 1714, King George the First re-established Plum Pudding as part of the Christmas feast, having tasted and enjoyed the dessert. By Victorian times, Christmas Puddings evolved in to something similar to what we serve at Christmas time today.

Putting a silver coin in the Christmas pudding is also an age old tradition that is said to bring luck to the people that find it! In the UK this was usually a six pence piece similar to a five pence piece today!

The Christmas Cake is renowned for its high alcohol content meaning it can be prepared way ahead of the Christmas season. But the cake as we know it hasn’t always looked like it today. Inspired by the earlier tradition for a Twelfth Night Cake, the Victorians added marzipan and icing to celebrate the end of the twelve days of Christmas. The cake featured in a night of parties, feasts and games and two beans were hidden in the mix. The man and woman who found the beans were then treated as king and queen for the night.

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Despite our Christmas dessert traditions in the UK, there’s a growing trend for delicacies from around the globe.

Stollen has been at the centre of Christmas in Germany since the 15th Century and continues to grow in popularity in the UK. This rich fruity yeast bread is filled with almond icing (marzipan) and topped with a light glace icing.

Over in Australia, Christmas is celebrated with a Pavlova, packed full of winter berries and Christmas spices. Whilst the French enjoy a decadent chocolate yule log and the Spanish love to get together and bake almond cookies for family and friends.

For further inspiration on serving Christmas treats this festive season, visit www.lockhart.co.uk.

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