We all know Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings – and mince pies, of course – are popular treats over the festive season, but what are the flavours that go into some of our favourite winter snacks?
In many cases, it’s all about spice rather than sweetness, and many winter cakes are quite warming, even when eaten cold.
Ginger is a main ingredient in many recipes, and our ginger cakes are made using a recipe that has been perfected over the years.
Cinnamon has always been a popular flavour in festive recipes too, and as many of us embrace Christmas markets each year, this is one ingredient that is still growing in popularity as the years go by.
Northerners will be familiar with Parkin – a ginger-based cake with oatmeal and treacle, which is a great winter warmer, and much loved on both sides of the Pennines.
Traditionally associated with Bonfire Night, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Parkin all through the winter months, and many recipes include honey to make it a little sweeter for Christmastime.
In fact, in Lancashire, you’ll often find Parkin is sweeter than it is in Yorkshire – and recipes west of the Pennines may use extra sugar, along with golden syrup in place of the black treacle preferred in the east.
Almonds and marzipan are of course another dominating theme in wintertime treats, from continental Stollen cakes through to the marzipan layers many of us look forward to biting into on our Christmas cakes.
If you tuck into a slice of Stollen this Christmas, you might be surprised that it was originally not so delicious – in fact, far from it.
The ‘cake’ dates back to 1545 when it was baked for Christmas as bread, using flour, oil, yeast and water – a far cry from the icing-sugar-dusted marzipan-flavoured morsels many people now look forward to each year.