This is part two of a two-part magazine article. For the first installment, click here.
Cakes, Breads, and Puddings
Of French origin, buche de Noel (Yule log) is one of many traditional cakes and breads enjoyed at Christmas. Made of thinly-rolled sponge cake filled with jam or cream, the log is then covered in chocolate buttercream and textured to resemble bark.
Panettone is a wonderful Italian egg-enriched bread with sugar, honey, raisins, spices, and candied peel, traditionally gifted at Christmas.
Stollen is a type of sweet bread from Germany traditionally served during the holidays. These yeast cakes are made with wheat flour, white sugar, butter, eggs, dried fruit, and marzipan (almond paste).
Gingerbread and ginger cookies are featured prominently on northern European Christmas tables. There’s debate among historians as to whether the first gingerbread houses appeared as a result of the popular Grimm’s fairy tales or the brothers Grimm were writing about something that already existed. Either way, generations of children have enjoyed helping to bake, construct, and decorate these festive houses.
Originally, British mince pies did indeed include minced meat as well as dried fruits, sugar, and spices. The distinction between mincemeat and mince was drawn in the mid-19th century, when meat began disappearing from the recipe, leaving the fruit, nut, sugar, spice, and suet product we know today.
Christmas pudding (aka plum pudding) traditionally contained charms such as silver coins, symbolizing good luck for the New Year. The name “plum” originally referred to a prune but came to mean any dried fruit. The Christmas pudding in its current form has been more or less established since the 19th century.
Where to buy? You’ll find panetonne in most of the international supermarkets, including April Gourmet, BHG Market Place, City Shop, DD Supermarket, Jenny Lou’s, and Jenny Wang’s. Comptoirs de France has panetonne, yule logs, and gingerbread. Costa Coffee, Paris Baguette, Starbucks, and Tous les Jours are already serving up some festive cakes and desserts. Ikea sells frozen blocks of gingerbread dough, so you can make your own cookies (using Ikea’s festive cookie cutters, of course). The Swedish chain also sells tins of ginger cookies and marshmallow snowmen. For stollen, Christmas cakes, and Christmas puddings, head to City Shop and Kempi Deli, and for mince pies you can’t beat The Paddington Kitchen.
Catering and Dining Out
For those who want to enjoy all the trappings of Christmas dinner in the comfort of their own home without having to stuff a turkey or boil a single sprout, there are at least two places that will happily do all the hard work for you:
- Culinary Capers: The complete cooked turkey meal includes stuffing, gravy, seasonal vegetables, and desserts. You can also buy an uncooked turkey to roast yourself (gravy included).
- Village Café: Pre-order all your Christmas delicacies and pick them up from the Village Café, they’ll have them ready for your oven or piping hot ready to serve. Whole turkeys, deluxe hams, smoked salmon, apple pie, Christmas cake, Christmas stolen, and many more delights. Order at least four days prior to the intended pick-up date. A 50 percent deposit is required at the time of order.
Throughout the holidays, many restaurants and hotels will be serving up festive feasts around town. From a Christmas Eve banquet to a Boxing Day brunch, most hotels will provide entertainment and activities for the kids, leaving the adults to sit back and enjoy a very Merry Christmas. Stay up-to-date on our website.
This article originally appeared on p24-25 in the December 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: benjamin thomas and Simon Law (Flickr)