is celebrated as a religious and cultural festival by billions of people around the world. It is an annual festival that recalls the birth of Jesus Christ observed most commonly on the 25th
of December and is an integral part of the holiday season. Carol singing, decorating the house in red and green and preparation of a sumptuous meal are the highlights of the celebration.
One of the most important part of the special holiday celebration, is the food that is prepared and served. Based on the cultural practises, the meal varies greatly from country to country. A standard Christmas meal in the United Kingdom and the countries influenced by its tradition include large birds like turkey or goose, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Rich fruitcake, Eggnog, Christmas pudding are few of the special desserts
During winter, oranges are one of the fruits associated with Christmas and are available in the northern countries. Orange peelis candied or the juice from orange is used in cakes.
Brandy, rum, wine or bourbon are often added in cooking or consumed as such. It gives warmth to the body and pacifies the mind. Without a glass of sweet grape wine and a piece of fruitcake
, Christmas dinner would be incomplete.
Homemade Christmas WineWine
making is a longstanding tradition, which holds good especially during Christmas. The homemade wine preparation begins early in October, as the weather is not as ideal in tropical countries as compared to the west. Wine making is still done at home by few while many opt to buy them from stores.
The homemade wines are comparatively sweeter; most often spiced, and belong to the category of dessert wine.
The fermentation period is briefer for sweet grape wine as the process is halted before all the sugar turns to alcohol.
The color of this wine is from the red pigment in the grape skin. Grapes give the flavor, sweetness is from the sugar, the yeast ferments, and spices bring out the aroma. Wheat or barley acts as the clarifying agent and adds strength to the wine.
- Sweet dark grapes - 2ľ pounds (910gms)
- Dry yeast - 1 tsp
- Sugar - 2ľ pounds (910gms)
- Water - 18 cups
- Wheat kernels - ľ cup
- Cloves - 4
- Cinnamon stick - 1-inch (crushed)
- Egg white- 1
1. Use a clean, dry glass or ceramic jar.
2. Wash the grapes, remove stalks and wipe them dry. Crush the grapes using a masher.
3. Dissolve a teaspoon of yeast in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. This is called proofing.
4. To the crushed grapes add the proofed yeast, sugar, water, wheat and spices. Dissolve the sugar by stirring the contents.
5. Fill ĺ of the jar with the contents. It is ideal to cover the jar with a piece of clean cheesecloth as carbon dioxide is formed during fermentation. Keep it in cool dark place.
6. Open the jar once a day for the next two to three weeks and stir the contents using a clean dry wooden spoon.
7. By the end of the third week, the mixture would stop foaming. After that, strain the liquid through clean cheesecloth to another clean jar. For the finer sediments to settle down, keep the wine in a glass container for two or three days, closed and undisturbed. Drain the clear wine
8. Mix the egg white into the wine and leave it in the container. The wine will become clear in a few days.
9. Fill it in dark bottles and store in a cool, dark place.
Spices, dried fruits
and candied peels add bitter aromatic flavours to the cake, which is otherwise sweet, and this is what makes the Christmas fruit cake different from a regular fruitcake. The spices add flavour and favour digestion. Figs, prunes, apricot are the commonly used dried fruits in cakes, which are high-calorie but contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Apricots, prunes and figs are packed with beta-carotene while plums are potassium rich and prunes favour digestion due to its fibre content.
Nuts, are rich in fibre, phyto-nutrients, antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are packed in nuts, been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
Eggless Christmas Cake Recipe Cooking time:
1 hour 45 minutesServing size:
6 - 7Ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)To soak in the rum:
To make the sponge:
- Raisins - Ĺ cup
- Chopped cashews - Ĺ cup
- Chopped citrus peels - ľ cup
- Apricots (dry or fresh) - 8-9
- Chopped dates - Ĺ cup
- Tutti fruity - ľ cup
- Glazed cherries, sliced - 9-10
- Rum or orange juice or apple juice - 1 cup
- All purpose flour - 1Ĺ cup
- Whole wheat flour - ĺ cup
- Demerara sugar or brown sugar or powdered sugar - 1 and Ĺ cup
- Oil or melted butter - 1 cup
- Soy milk or any nut milk or dairy milk - 1 cup
- Apple cider or regular vinegar - 2 tbsp
- Baking soda - 1 tsp
- Baking powder - Ĺ tsp
- Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
- Cinnamon - 1 inch or 1.5 inches
- Cloves - 2
- Cardamom - 2
- Grated nutmeg Ė a pinch or two
Preparation MethodSoaking the dry fruits:
1. Chop all the dry fruits and take them in a bowl. Pour rum in the bowl.
2. Cover the bowl let the dry fruits soak for 12 or 24 hours.
3. Stir or shake at intervals so that the dry fruits get soaked evenly.Preparing the cake:
1. Grind the whole spices in a dry grinder and keep aside.
2. Grease a loaf pan or a round cake pan with oil or butter paper (6.5 inches round pan was used).
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
4. Sieve the flours, baking powder and the powdered spices.
5. In a mixing bowl, add oil and Demerara sugar and mix well with the flour-spice mixture.
6. Mix some flour with the cherries and keep aside.
7. Add the soaked dry fruits.
8. In a bowl add soymilk, apple cider and stir gently.
9. Add baking soda and stir. It will begin to froth. Then, add this mixture to the cake batter.
10. Add vanilla extract and mix. Pour in the cake pan.
11. Spread the batter uniformly in the cake pan.
12. Place the sliced cherries on the top.
13. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes or more or less depending on your oven at 180 degrees C.
14. The cake can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks.Few Alternative Ingredients and Tips for Christmas Fruitcake
1. Cover the top with butter paper or aluminium foil if the top of the cake browns quickly.
2. Instead of soymilk, dairy milk or nut milk can also be used.
3. Butter can be an alternative for oil.
4. The dry fruits mixture can be soaked in orange juice instead of rum or a mixture of rum and wine.
5. Keep the bowl in the fridge for 1 day if orange juice is used for soaking.
6. Whole wheat flour can be replaced by all-purpose flour.