We’re so close now. Christmas is here and so are the last stages of gift buying and wrapping. For the last few years I’ve made various edible gifts, and the best ones now come back annually. Candied clementine slices dipped in chocolate are a must, and always disappear before new year. This year in particular I’m trying to cut down on unnecessary presents, and only give things that will last or be loved, even if that’s just something small.
The lead up to Christmas gets me excited for lots of different reasons, and in recent years it has helped to spark a creativity that had been lying dormant and unfulfilled. Planning a cake for a family gathering, baking edible gifts for friends or making decorations all give me a sense of calm that I can struggle to achieve otherwise. Although I do all these things throughout the year, Christmas combines one present-giving event for everyone with long dark evenings, perfect for cosying up with a project.
Christmas is a season full of delicious food, traditions and gathering friends and family to eat together. There is nothing better than a mug of mulled wine and some gingerbread to get you in the festive spirit. But having a nut allergy can make Christmas a little more stressful. Mince pies laced with various nuts, fruitcake and endless marzipan adornments all have to be avoided. Even drinks are a minefield; Sweden’s answer to mulled wine, gløgg, is made with almonds.
Once you’ve got your basic Christmas baking sorted (I’m talking mince pies, truffles, Swedish Pepparkakor gingerbread, German Lebkuchen Biscuits…) you’re going to need a showstopping pudding for the big day. The obvious choice is the traditional Christmas fruit cake covered in marzipan and white icing or a boozy Christmas pudding. With a nut-allergy, both of these choices are usually off the table. In fact, even nut-free fruit cake has never been something I find particularly tasty. So I wanted to come up with a really special nut-free celebration cake. This Christmas Gingerbread Forest Cake is the final product!
Christmas time has all the best foods. I’ve already posted two differently spiced gingerbread recipes (Swedish Pepparkakor and German Lebkuchen) but sometimes you want a festive biscuit that’s a bit less complex to make. These Spiced Orange and Date Cookies are flavoured with all-spice and nutmeg which gives them warmth and depth without overpowering the orange and date.
Chritsmas traditions can make all the difference when it comes to feeling festive. As I already mentioned in my Pepparkakor post, eating the right food at Christmas is really important to my family, as I’m sure it is to yours. The turkey is less important than the roast parsnips (particularly now I’m vegetarian!) and it’s important to have a Pringles sandwich on cheap white bread on Boxing Day.