CHRISTMAS FLAVOURS

Seasonal Delicacies

Dee Williams regales us with Xmas treats

Christmas is a wonderful time of year with kindness being shown by both believers and nonbelievers of the Christian faith. Gifting presents to family and friends is a highlight of the season, and an integral component of the day is sitting down to share a sumptuous meal.

Preparing Christmas lunch and dinner is memorable, as well as satisfying, since so much effort goes into cooking special dishes for this festive day.

Despite having lived in Sri Lanka for many years, I only found out about the Sri Lankan breudher after settling in Australia. When I first ate it on Christmas Day, I found the dish to be delicious since it tasted like something between sweetened bread and cake. I hadn’t tasted anything like it before.

So I wanted to make breudher – and replicate the taste and texture of the first breudher I’d eaten. Despite looking like a simple cake, it took several attempts to make one that I was happy with. Nowadays, I make breudher at Christmas as it’s a wonderful present to give friends who aren’t aware of this Sri Lankan delicacy.

The Yule log originated in France – and it is popular during the Christmas season in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the former French colonies. There are so many different varieties of it during the festive season: it’s sometimes served as a whole log – or a log with a branch on the side – and the bark is decorated with chocolate.

I have fond memories of making Yule log as a child. My mother loved to watch Mallika Joseph’s cooking shows and one day, we decided to make a Yule log by following her recipe. I was the helper, measuring the ingredients and beating the cake. Back then, we used to beat the eggs by hand and it was difficult to achieve the right consistency.

As soon as the sponge came out of the oven, we had to use a tea towel to roll the cake into a cylindrical shape before it cooled; because as soon as it cools down, it’s hard to manoeuvre the roll. Eventually, we managed to make a good Yule log in our first attempt!

Stollen is a traditional German bread that’s made and eaten during the season. Here’s a yeast bread filled with spices and nuts, in addition to dried or candied fruits and coated with icing sugar or powdered sugar. Often, marzipan is used as well. The most common spices in stollen are cardamom and cinnamon.

I have never made stollen myself but I’ve eaten plenty of it. It’s rich and sweet, due to the number of fruits and nuts added to the bread; and it has a soft cake-like texture with moisture from the butter and fruits. Stollen is normally served warm with butter, honey, jam or fruit preserves, and the right amount of butter in it is the secret to making it moist and soft.

Eggnog is a traditional holiday drink dating back hundreds of years. It’s believed to have originated in England, and is popular in the US and Canada during Christmas.

This beverage is traditionally made using milk, cream, beaten egg whites and egg yolks; and sometimes, it’s flavoured with rum, brandy or bourbon. Some people also add spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon to the eggnog to improve its flavour.

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