Sunday 11 November 2012

Seasonal flavour

Two-Tiered Tree Cupcakes
Life's too short...

Food does not feature high on my list of priorities. Yes, I like to eat good food, but going out for a meal holds no special appeal other than that it provides an opportunity to meet with friends for a good old natter. I like my dishes to be tasty, nutritious and good value, but faffing about with jus and reductions is, to my mind, a complete waste of time.

So I’m not reading all the advice that is already forthcoming on how to make stuffing balls, create filo parcels or decorate cupcakes with greengrass icing for that perfect edible Christmas tree.

My one major concession to the mythical homemade Christmas is mincemeat and, if I’m honest, it’s my husband who makes it, not me. I’m allowed to join in with the peeling, slicing and dicing of the apples, but measuring and mixing the other ingredients, including, like Colonel Sanders, his own secret blend of spices, is strictly his domain. And very good at it he is, too. All this takes place in October, when the apple harvest is in full swing. He makes a huge vat of the stuff, which he leaves to mature in a cool, dark corner of the house, occasionally stirring and tasting it, perhaps tweaking the flavour slightly. Eventually it's ready to be transferred into jars.

(At this point I should mention a small detail: if you put cold mincemeat into hot sterilised jars and seal them immediately the mixture will expand and seep out through the lids to create an immovable sticky mess. Don’t ask me how I know: just trust me on this.)

Then, my husband will put into practice all his years of bakery training to create the lightest pastry ever to grace the palate and produce the finest batch of mincepies in the land. The first few dozen for this year are in the oven as I write, and the heavenly smell is driving me crazy.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


  1. Sounds absolutely wonderful, Julia! Please can you send your husband round to my house?

  2. I'm sure we could come to some arrangement, Sally! BTW, just re-read your winning story in November's Freelance Market News. Great stuff. :)

  3. Ah now there is a memory of Saturday mornings as a callow youth. Clives pastry was always very... very good!