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Recipes for special occasions

Mince pies, Yule log, preserves, galette des rois: Christmas recipes to get you in the festive spirit

  • Forget store-bought fare – if you’ve got a bit of spare time, why not whip up some early festive treats with these recipes from Susan Jung
  • For some of them even the kids can get involved
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 2:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 4:07am

The best bit about the lead-up to Christmas is that you get to indulge in all kinds of yummy festive food without having to go into full turkey-roast-potatoes mode and all the effort and hassle that entails.

These can all be prepared before Christmas and be ready for when you have guests pop round, or saved for the big day itself.

The preserves can even be used as stocking fillers for a unique little Christmas gift that the recipient is unlikely to expect.

Let’s get cracking.

Mince pies

I have never been impressed by commercial mince pies – they always seem too heavy and overspiced, so I was determined to make a version I liked.

Traditionalists might not like the version of mincemeat I use, which is based on a recipe in the book Elizabeth David’s Christmas, but from my research it seems the only thing mince pie recipes have in common were dried fruit, spices and alcohol. It’s best to make this at least a week in advance so the flavours have time to blend.

Click here for the full recipe

Yule log

The Yule log, or buche de Noel, is a French cake that represents the log burned in the hearth over Christmas.

Pastry chefs can get very creative with these, and some versions are extravagant, complex and beautiful. This one is more homestyle, and it’s something children can help make, although be prepared for the mess.

Check the can of chestnut purée to make sure it’s not sweetened. The type I buy (the Clement Faugier brand) comes in a 439 gram can.

Click here for the full recipe

Preserves

The gifts I hand out at this time of year tend to be home-made ones and preserves are just as good as chocolate truffles, boxes of biscuits or Christmas pudding, especially for stocking fillers.

In an ideal world, we would work with whatever fruits are grown locally and available fresh but, in Hong Kong, we often have to rely on what’s being sold at a reasonable price in the frozen-fruit section.

Keep your eyes peeled for good deals on unusual fruits. Here are two recipes for lingonberry preserve and wild blueberry preserve.

Click here for the full recipe

Galette des rois

Galette des rois is traditionally eaten in France around the Epiphany on January 6, though it is common to find people preparing it in December.

It’s one of my favourite pastries because it’s flaky and rich but not too sweet. I also love its austere beauty, which is completely dependent on the skill of the maker. There’s nothing to cover any imperfections; if the galette rises unevenly or the pastry shrinks into an oval, you can’t hide it by trimming it into shape and then adding a layer of icing, as with a cake.

Don’t even think of making this with commercial puff pastry sheets containing shortening.

Click here for the full recipe