My childhood Christmas fantasy was always a Northern Hemisphere-tinged version of this ultimate holiday season. Mittens, snow, sleigh bells, mistletoe, roasted chestnuts and dried fruit puddings. It was a ‘traditional’ Christmas that made no sense in Sydney, soaked as we were in sun and sweat year after year as my father, with a paper crown lightly plastered to his forehead by effort, perspiration and steam, plunged a blunt bread knife into the roast turkey.
Even with an air-conditioning upgrade, I couldn’t stomach the idea of all that hot food. We could have been feasting on chilled oysters, prawns, cold ham and salad, followed by sweet cherries and mangoes. And I suspected we often suffered from dry turkey because the beast continued cooking in the blistering Summer heat long after it left the oven. These days, our family celebrates the middle ground. Cold food, plus some hot food that if served even only moderately warm, will be no cause for complaint.
But, for dessert?
People who still opt for the more traditional approach might make a concession especially when it comes to the last course. Stirring crumbled pudding into store bought vanilla ice-cream before setting it in the freezer again is occasionally made a little more fancy with the addition of booze or toasted spices to qualify it as a “recipe”. I must admit, I like this approach. Learning from past experience however, I’ve decided against transporting anything frozen to a family dinner since it often arrives in the form a puddle, forcing me to hastily reinvent my dish as a chilled custard or dessert soup.
This year, if Santa doesn’t bring a heatwave, I will bake. It’ll be a variation on one of my favourite recipes made extra small, extra cute and extra delicious with limes and blackberries – both of which are plentiful and cheap at the moment. Of course, there’s always a plan B, which I shall mention in my next post.
What will you be baking for Christmas?