It’s the perfect excuse. Christmas only comes once a year – but why save the joy of big glazed hams, hearty fruit puddings and gingerbread for December? Winter is the perfect time to polish up your ham and pud skills, give some new recipes a try, and get a big head start on your December celebration menus.
Here are some of our favourite recipes.
Traditional: Maple syrup and clove glazed ham
This sweet glaze with a mustard kick not only tastes great but means less to do on the day, as you can make the glaze up to two-weeks ahead and refrigerate until needed.
With a twist: Honey roast streaky bacon
“It’s ridiculously easy, takes no time at all and will knock your Christmas socks off,” says chef Tom Kerridge of this alternative to the classic, which he shares in the Christmas episode of Tom Kerridge’s Perfect Pub Food. It’s also great hot or cold, so any leftovers will be fantastic on Boxing Day, he says.
Traditional: Our ultimate guide to cooking a turkey
To brine or not to brine? How big a bird to buy. Simple stuffing basics. Cooking times. Carving, step-by-step. Find everything you want to know so you can serve up a turkey with all the trimmings in our detailed turkey guide.
Twist: Moroccan roast turkey buffe
A buffe – a turkey without the legs – is quicker to cook than a full bird, and gives you lots of white meat. The Moroccan roast buffe bastes the bird with a mix of cumin, coriander, saffron, cloves and oil for added flavour. Another quick option is a turkey roll (ask your butcher for a boned bird), stuffed with your favourite flavours.
Traditional: Gingerbread biscuits
We could eat gingerbread biscuits all year long!! Bu there’s something special about festive gingerbread biscuits, from Bakeproof columnist Anneka Manning’s gingerbread men, made with brown sugar, golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon, to fill your kitchen with those enticing warm aromas, to these Norwegian Christmas biscuits (pepperkaker):
And these clever and cute Rudolph biscuits (start with a gingerbread man, turn it upside down, then decorate!):
You can also use your gingerbread biscuits as an edible decoration, in this spiced gingerbread star garland.
Twist: A gingerbread tent, mosque or beach hut
Put a twist on the usual gingerbread house with one of the ‘houses’ (and even a ute!) from our gingerbread global village. There’s a gingerbread mosque, a beach hut, a pagoda, a bush shack, inner-city terrace houses and an outback tent. Find all the details of the houses in the #GingerbreadPeaceProject here.
Traditional: There’s so much choice when it comes to a classic festive season cake, from a traditional rich fruit cake or a bûche de Noël to Uruguayan pan dulce (sweet bread), traditionally enjoyed on Christmas Eve, or a fruit-studded Italian panettone (make one large panettone, or mini panettone). Bishop’s cake, packed with glacé fruit pieces and nuts (it’s also known as cathedral cake, as thin slices look like the stained-glass windows of a church), is a particularly pretty festive bake. And this recipe for Sri Lankan Christmas cake is one of our most popular fruit cakes, but does need to be made six weeks in advance – so put that one on the forward list for December!
Twist: Winter is the perfect time to make Colombian black cake (torta negra Colombiana), dense with prunes, raisins, figs, and nuts, spiked with both run and port and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
The fruit mince tart
Traditional: Give Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans’ mince tarts a go. The fruit mince filling can last a year in the fridge (now that’s planning ahead!) and goes into a wonderful “very short shortcrust pastry”.
Traditional: A trifle is the cornerstone of Christmas in many corners of the world. Our How to make a better trifle guide has everything you need to know, from the sponge to the booze to the custard.
The twist: Beyond the usual sponge cake, fruit and custard lie a world of possibilities: individual lamington trifles; a Spanish twist on the trifle, with Pedro Ximenez jelly with chocolate and caramel layers; or this striking Turkish delight trifle.
Twist: Here’s another idea from Tom Kerridge, spiced orange cake with Christmas pudding ice-cream. He reckons it will convert those who think they don’t like Christmas pud (and given the number one recipe on SBS Food is another orange and almond cake, we think he might be onto something here!)
And here’s a striking fruit pudding that would look fantastic on a festive table: Turkish cherry bread pudding (visneli ekmek tatlisi):
For more festive winter options, look at our glazed ham recipe collection; our Christmas baking collection; our gingerbread recipe collection, with gingerbread houses, gingerbread biscuits, gingerbread cake and more; our Hannukkah recipe collection; our fruit cake collection; 20 great trifle recipes; and our pudding collection, home to everything from rich chocolate puds to fruity steamed puddings.
Watch the Christmas episode of Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food 7.30pm Saturday 29 June on SBS Food, then on SBS on Demand. For more pudding inspiration, look for Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds, Tuesdays 8.30pm on SBS Food from 2 July.