Vegan English Pancakes

These Shrove Tuesday pancakes are quick and easy to make and can be served with a wide variety of tasty toppings.

Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6 pancakesDifficulty: Easy

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 110g/4oz/1 cup of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 300ml/3 dl/½ pint/just over a cup of milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • A tablespoon of plant based margarine

For toppings:

  • Granulated sugar (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Vegan butter (optional)
  • Vegan ice cream (optional)
  • Vegan whipped cream (optional)
  • Vegan chocolate spread (optional)
  • Blueberries (optional)
  • Jam (optional)

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • An electric whisk
  • A sieve
  • A frying pan
  • A spatula

Method

  1. Mix the ground flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of water. Stir together thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Add the margarine to a non stick frying pan. Pop it on the hob over a medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Use the electric whisk to whisk in the milk, flaxseed mixture and salt. Make sure the mixture is well combined and that there aren’t any lumps.
  4. Shake the melted margarine around the pan so there is an even coverage. Pour a sixth of the pancake mixture into the pan, and tilt the pan to spread it around.
  5. Allow the pancake to cook for about two minutes, then slide a spatula underneath it and ensure it’s lightly browned underneath. Ensure the pancake is dislodged with the spatula, and use the spatula to flip it over.
  6. Cook the over side of the pancake for a further minute.
  7. Flip the pancake onto a plate. Turn the oven on, onto a very low heat, and store the finished pancakes inside it to keep them warm while you cook the rest.
  8. Pour another sixth of the pancake mixture into the frying pan, tilt the pan to spread it. Repeat the cooking process until you have six pancakes.
  9. Serve the pancakes immediately, with lemon juice and sugar, ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate spread, or any combination of the above!
  10. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • If the pancakes brown too quickly or burn while cooking, turn the hob down slightly. Alternatively if they aren’t cooking quickly enough raise the temperature a bit.
  • If the pancakes seem to be sticking to the pan a little too much, try whisking a little extra flour into the pancake mixture.

Background

Home: England
Relatives: Crêpes (France), American Pancakes (U.S.), Palatschinke (Austria), Pfannkuchen (Germany)

Vegan Moelleux au Chocolat

These tiny, gooey chocolate gateaus are served straight from the oven. Drizzle them with cream, ice cream and other goodies to make a rich yet elegant dessert.

Preparation time: 40 minutesCooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the moelleux:

  • 100g/3½ oz/⅔ cup of dairy free dark chocolate
  • 100g/3½ oz/just under ½ cup of plant based margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g/3½ oz/½ cup of caster sugar
  • 10 tablespoons of aquafaba
  • 100g/3½ oz/⅞ cup of plain flour
  • Cocoa powder

For decoration:

  • Salted caramel sauce (optional)
  • Ice cream (optional)
  • Icing sugar (optional)
  • Whipped plant based cream (optional)

Special equipment

  • Four or five ramekins
  • Two large mixing bowls
  • A pastry brush
  • A sieve
  • A spatula
  • An electric whisk
  • A small saucepan
  • A knife
  • A baking tray

Method

  1. Use a pastry brush to brush the ramekins with margarine. Pop the ramekins in the freezer for fifteen minutes so the margarine freezes a little, then use the pastry brush to apply a second layer of margarine.
  2. Spoon a little cocoa powder into the ramekins and shake them about, so the margarine is covered with a thin coating of cocoa powder. Pour out any excess cocoa powder that hasn’t stuck to the margarine. Return the ramekins to the freezer.
  3. Set a saucepan over a medium heat and add 200ml water. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the chocolate and margarine to a heatproof mixing bowl and set it over the pan of water. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Leave the chocolate and margarine to heat up for a few minutes, until they have melted. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool down a little.
  5. Pour the aquafaba into a separate clean mixing bowl and whisk it with an electric whisk until it’s pale and very foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a few minutes more.
  6. Sift the flour into the aquafaba and add the melted chocolate and butter. Use a spatula to gently beat everything together until thoroughly combined.
  7. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and return them to the freezer for half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  8. When ready, place the ramekins on a baking tray and place them in the oven. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the moelleux have formed a crust and begun to pull away from the ramekins. Remove from the oven.
  9. Leave the moelleux for a minute or two, then use a knife to gently separate them from the ramekins. Place serving plates over the ramekins and gently invert both, shaking them up and down slightly to thoroughly dislodge the moelleux, before pulling away the ramekins.
  10. Sift a little icing sugar and/or cocoa powder over the moelleux, drizzle them with salted caramel sauce, and spoon over a little whipped cream or ice cream. Serve immediately.
  11. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • If you are making these as a dinner party dessert, it’s a good idea to double the quantity so you have a few extra moelleux. That way, when you think they’re nearly ready you can remove a ‘test’ moelleux from the oven and check that you’re able to invert it onto a serving plate without the outer crust collapsing.

Background

Pronunciation: (Molloo ochockoolah)

Home: France

Relatives: Petit gâteau (France), Death by Chocolate (U.S.), Soufflé (France)

Tofu Fried Rice

This vegan version of restaurant style Chinese fried rice is easy to make but full of flavour!

Preparation time: 20 minutes (plus a few hours for the rice to cool)Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 200g/7 oz/1 cup of long grain or basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon of margarine
  • 300g/10½ oz/1 box of silken tofu, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 1 onion
  • 150g/5 oz/1 cup of mixed vegetables (sweetcorn, peas, chopped peppers, carrots, chillis etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, chopped

Special Equipment

  • A saucepan
  • A large wok
  • A spatula

Method

  1. Boil or steam the rice according to package instructions. Then drain the rice thoroughly and leave it to cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. Place a saucepan on the hob over a medium heat and add the margarine.
  3. When the margarine has melted add the undrained tofu to the pan and allow it to heat up for a few minutes. Then gently break it up into large chunks with a fork and mix in the salt, pepper, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Continue to cook for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally, before removing the pan from the heat.
  4. Pour the sesame oil into the wok and set it over a medium heat. Allow it to heat up for a minute or two before adding the vegetables and onion. Stir fry the vegetables for about five minutes, scraping them around the wok regularly with a spatula.
  5. Add the ginger and rice to the wok and mix them into the vegetables. Leave them to heat up for a minute or two, then use the spatula to roughly scrape them around the wok. Cook the rice and vegetables for a further five to ten minutes, scraping them regularly with the spatula as they cook so they don’t stick to the wok.
  6. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the soy sauce and tofu.
  7. Pour the rice into bowls and sprinkle with the spring onions. Serve straight away.
  8. Chī hǎo hē hǎo! (吃好喝好)

Tips

  • Make sure you steam and drain the rice at least a few hours in advance, and that it’s cold when you add it to the wok- if it’s still warm when you add it the fried rice will be unpleasantly mushy.

Background

Home: China

Relatives: This recipe is based on Yangzhou fried rice. Other kinds of Chinese fried rice include Hokkien, Canton, Szechwan and Chāhan.

History

Fried rice has been eaten in parts of China for at least 1500 years, and is believed to have become widely popular during the Ming dynasty (500 years ago). The dish incorporates old rice, vegetables and meats, as well as popular condiments like soy sauce, so probably developed as a way of using up leftovers.

The most popular variety of Chinese fried rice is Yangzhou rice. This is named after the city of Yangzhou in eastern central China. It consists of rice, pork, crab, egg, vegetables and spring onions, and is the version of fried rice which is usually served in international Chinese restaurants. But there are many other regional varieties of Chinese fried rice. These include Hokkien rice (fried rice with thick sauce poured over it), Szechwan rice (rice with spicy chilli sauce), Canton rice (rice with gravy) and Yuanyang rice (rice with Béchamel and tomato sauce).

Yangzhou, China
Gisling, Si Qiao Yan Yu building on the Thin West Lake — 扬州瘦西湖四桥烟雨楼,, 2007, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Si_Qiao_Yan_Yu_Building.jpg [accessed 4th February 2021] (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/deed.en)

Vegan Krupicová Kaše

Krupicová Kaše is a Czech porridge, consisting of milky semolina topped with copious amounts of butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and icing sugar. It can be eaten for breakfast or dessert and is also a popular baby food!

Preparation time: 1 hourCooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

For the porridge:

  • 500ml/5dl/just under a pt/just over 2 cups of milk
  • 50g/2 oz/4½ tablespoons of semolina
  • A pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 30g/1 oz/2 tablespoons of plant based margarine
  • 8g/¼ oz/a tablespoon of cocoa
  • 10g/⅓ oz/a tablespoon of grated chocolate
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 16g/½ oz/2 tablespoons of icing sugar

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A whisk
  • A large saucepan
  • A sieve
  • Bowls, to serve

Method

  1. Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl with the salt and semolina. Briefly whisk everything together, then put the bowl in the fridge for an hour.
  2. Pour the milk mixture into a large saucepan. Place the pan on the hob over a low-medium heat and slowly bring it to the boil, stirring it very regularly with the whisk as it heats up so lumps don’t form.
  3. Allow it to simmer for five minutes, whisking constantly while it cooks.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in half of the margarine, making sure it’s been fully absorbed.
  5. Divide the porridge between two bowls.
  6. Top the bowls of porridge with the remaining butter. Then sieve the cocoa and cinnamon over the porridge before sprinkling over the grated chocolate and icing sugar.
  7. Dobrou chuť!

Tips

  • Make sure you leave the semolina and milk to sit for an hour before cooking, and that you stir the mixture regularly when it’s heating up on the hob, so that lumps don’t form.
  • You don’t have to stick to chocolate, cocoa and cinnamon as toppings- you can also try using rum, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, biscuits, honey, and/or lemon juice.

Background

Home: Czechia
Pronunciation: (Krupitsovah kashe)
Relatives: Krupicová kaša (Slovakia), Griș cu Lapte (Romania), Tejbegríz (Hungary), Manų Košė (Lithuania), Grießbrei (Germany), Semolina Pudding (UK), Vispipuuro (Finland), Guryev (Russia)

History

Porridge has been eaten for millennia, in various forms and in many different human societies. It’s believed cereals were first cultivated in Syria at least 9,000 years ago, and that they were soon being domesticated and harvested by multiple civilizations around the world. As a result porridge became an integral part many ancients peoples’ diets.

Semolina porridges and puddings are known to have been eaten in Europe since at least Roman times: an early recipe for semolina porridge was included in the Apicus, a collection of Roman recipes first compiled in the 1st century AD. The recipe calls for the semolina to be boiled with almonds and raisins and topped with nuts, fruits and cake crumbs.

Porridges are ubiquitous to central and eastern European cuisine today: the region boasts many different national and transnational varieties of buckwheat, wheat, barley, millet, rye and oat porridge. These include many versions of semolina porridge, which is popular in Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania and Russia. The Czech version, Krupicová Kaše, can be eaten for dessert or breakfast and is often fed to babies and toddlers.

Prague, Czechia

Red Borscht

Red Borscht is a tasty sour soup from Ukraine. It consists of stewed beetroot, potatoes and vegetables, which are topped with herbs and copious amounts of sour cream.

Preparation time: 30 minutesInfusion time: At least 3 hours, preferably overnight
Cooking time: Just over 2 hoursServes: 8
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the broth:

  • 3 litres/30 dl/5¼ pt/12½ cups of water
  • 2 celery sticks, whole and uncut
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • A tablespoon of fresh parsley

For the soup:

  • 90g/3 oz/½ cup of dried white beans, soaked for several hours
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and roughly grated
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 2 medium sized beets, peeled and finely grated
  • A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • Half a head of white cabbage, finely chopped

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh fennel, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • A teaspoon of paprika
  • 50g/just under 2 oz/4 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
  • 50g/just under 2 oz/3 full tablespoons of vegan butter or margarine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Vegan sour cream (I used this recipe which worked well!)
  • Extra parsley and fennel, for decoration

Special Equipment

  • A sharp knife
  • A chopping board
  • A very large saucepan with a lid
  • Two smaller saucepans or frying pans
  • A wooden spoon
  • A food processor

Method

  1. Add the water, whole celery stalks, bay leaves, tablespoon of parsley, salt and pepper to a large saucepan. Cover the pan with a lid, set it on the hob over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Lower the hob temperature down to low and allow the broth to simmer for an hour.
  2. Drain the beans and add them to the broth. Allow it to simmer for a further half hour.
  3. Raise the hob temperature up to medium. Remove the celery stalks from the pan and discard. Add the potatoes to the broth, re-cover the pan with the lid, and allow the broth to simmer for a further fifteen minutes.
  4. While the broth is simmering, set a separate pan over a medium heat and add half of the sunflower oil. Allow the oil to heat up for a minute or two, then add the onions and carrots. Sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring them regularly so they don’t burn. Then add the tomato purée to the pan and stir it into the onions and carrots. Allow them to cook for a couple of minutes more, stirring regularly, then remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Add the remaining sunflower oil to a separate pan and set it over a medium heat. Allow the oil to heat up for a minute or two, then add the beets and sprinkle them with apple cider vinegar. Sauté them for five minutes, stirring regularly, then remove the pan from the heat.
  6. When the potatoes have been cooking in the broth for fifteen minutes, add the sautéed onions, carrots and tomato purée to the pan. Stir everything together and re-cover the pan. Allow the broth to simmer for a further ten minutes.
  7. Finally, pour the cabbage and sautéed beetroot into the broth, stir everything together, re-cover the pan and allow the broth to simmer for a final five minutes before removing the pan from the heat.
  8. Add the fennel, parsley, paprika, vegetable shortening, butter, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until very well combined.
  9. Spoon the herb and vegetable shortening mixture over the broth and re-cover the pan with the lid. Leave the Borscht flavours to infuse for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  10. When ready to eat, gently warm up the Borscht and ladle it into serving bowls. Spoon a little sour cream onto each bowl, top with fresh herbs, and serve.
  11. смачного! (Smačnóho!)

Tips

  • If you don’t have a food processor, make sure the garlic, parsley and fennel are very finely chopped and that the shortening and butter are at room temperature. Use a wooden spoon to beat them together.
  • Make sure you only simmer the Borscht for five minutes after you have added the beetroot and cabbage. This will allow the cabbage to remain relatively crisp and prevent the beetroot from losing its distinctive colour.
  • You can use different vegetables and flavourings to those in this recipe if you prefer. This is only one of many Borscht recipes, as the dish varies by country, region, village and even by home. It’s said that no two housewives use the same Borscht recipe: all that’s required of proper Borscht is for it to be homemade.
  • If you have time, try making some Pampushky (Ukrainian garlic doughnuts) to go with the Borscht.

Background

Home: Ukraine, Russia

Pronunciation: /bɔɹʃt/ (bawsht)

Relatives: Green and White Borscht (Ukraine, Russia, Poland), Shchi (Russia), Rassolnik (Russia), Solyanka (Russia and Ukraine), Jota (Slovenia), Żurek (Poland)

History

There are many, many varieties of Borscht, which can be grouped into three main types: red Borscht with beets, green Borscht with nettles and sorrel, and cold Borscht with milk and yoghurt. These soups are believed to all descend from a sour soup once eaten by the ancient Slavs. This sour soup was apparently made from common hogweed, which the Slavs picked, fermented and stewed.

Over time, hogweed was replaced by other vegetables and flavourings. Such flavourings varied greatly by region and by taste, and many different types of sour soup were referred to as Borscht. Elena Molokhovets’ A Gift to Young Housewives, a Russian cookbook published in 1861, includes nine different Russian recipes for Borscht, and there were many other types of Borscht eaten in Poland, Ukraine and other Slavic countries.

It’s believed that red Borscht made with beets originated in what is now Ukraine. Ukrainian soil was well suited to beet cultivation, and several nineteenth century Slavic cookbooks refer to red Borscht as ‘Little Russian Borscht‘- ‘Little Russian’ being a reference to Ukrainians. According to Ukrainian legend, the soup was invented by Ukranian Cossacks serving in the Polish army. Red Borscht is ubiquitous in Ukraine today: there are many very different regional varieties from Kiev, Chernihiv, Galicia, Polissya, Bukovyna, Vinnytsia and Crimea.

‘Little Russians’ harvesting beets
Leon Wyczółkowski, Kopanie buraków, 1893

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese is a traditional, delicious side dish consisting of roast cauliflower in a rich, creamy Béchamel sauce, topped with copious amounts of crunchy cheese.

Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 (as a side)Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 840g/30 oz/1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets with leaves removed
  • 650ml/6½ dl/just over a pint/2¾ cups of unsweetened soya milk
  • 40g/1½ oz/4 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 60g/2 oz/4 tablespoons of plant based margarine
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 80g/3 oz/6 tablespoons of grated vegan cheddar
  • 40g/1½ oz/8 tablespoons of grated vegan parmesan
  • 28g/1 oz/4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Special Equipment

  • Two medium sized saucepans
  • A colander
  • A medium sized casserole dish
  • A whisk

Method

  1. Set a saucepan of water on the hob over a high heat and bring to the boil. Add the cauliflower florets and boil them for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and drain the florets.
  2. Put the florets in the casserole dish and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
  4. Next, make the Béchamel sauce. Add the margarine to another saucepan and set it on the hob over a medium heat. When the margarine has melted stir in the flour. Cook the margarine and flour together for up to five minutes, or until they form a smooth, golden brown roux. Ensure you stir them, gently but constantly, while they cook.
  5. Turn the heat down and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of the milk. Continue whisking the roux and milk together until the milk has been fully absorbed and a thick paste has formed. Continue adding the remainder of the milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time, whisking in each bit of milk until it’s been fully absorbed into the paste.
  6. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and allow it to simmer gently, whisking regularly, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s become smooth and thick. Stir in a little salt and pepper.
  7. Mix the cheddar and parmesan together. Stir half of the cheese mixture into the sauce.
  8. Pour the Béchamel sauce evenly over the cauliflower, then stir the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese mixture together and scatter them over the dish.
  9. Pop the Cauliflower Cheese in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until it’s golden brown, bubbling and fragrant. Serve immediately, while it’s hot.
  10. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • If the Béchamel sauce ends up being a little lumpy, whisk it with an electric whisk or pop it in a blender- either should disperse any clumps of flour and leave you with a smooth sauce.
  • If desired, you can add a little mustard and/or nutmeg to the sauce to flavour it.

Background

Home: Cyprus, England
Pronunciation:
ˌ/kɒliflaʊə ˈtʃiːz/ (Koll-ih-flahw-err-cheeyz)

Relatives: Conopida Saseasca (Romania), Welsh Rarebit (Wales), Macaroni Cheese (International)

History

The history of Cauliflower Cheese isn’t too well documented. It’s believed that cauliflowers originated in Kythrea, Cyprus: the vegetable’s Cypriot heritage was reflected in its Old French and early modern English names, respectively Thou de Chypre and Cyprus Coleworts, which both mean ‘Cyprus Cabbage’. It’s believed that cauliflowers were introduced to western Europe in the Middle Ages by Latin Christians returning from the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus. The vegetable may also have been introduced to Britain directly in the 1800s, when Cyprus was a British colony.

Béchamel sauce became very popular in 19th century Cyprus and Greece, so it’s likely that Cauliflower Cheese originated in its complete form on the vegetable’s home island. The dish had emerged in British cuisine by the mid 19th century, with an early recipe of it appearing in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management in 1861. By the 20th century it had become a popular side dish, often served as an accompaniment to Sunday roasts.

Kythrea, Cyprus
From Esme Scott Stevenson’s Our home in Cyprus. With illustrations and a map, 1880

Vegan Brioche des Rois

Happy Epiphany!
Brioche des Rois is a sweet, fruity, crown shaped brioche cake from Le Midi (southern France). It’s the Provençal version of the Galette des Rois, or King Cake. These cakes are eaten at Epiphany (6th January), which is the Christian feast of the revelation of Jesus.

Preparation time: 30 minutesRising time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutesServes: 10
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 250g/9 oz/2 cups of plain flour, plus extra
  • 7g/¼ oz/just over 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of lukewarm soya milk
  • 6 tablespoons of aquafaba
  • 50g/2 oz/4 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water
  • 80g/3 oz/⅜ cup of plant based margarine

For the ‘egg wash’:

  • 2 tablespoons of soya milk
  • 3 tablespoons of aquafaba

For decoration:

  • 2 tablespoons of apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar pearls (see tips)
  • 200g/7 oz/a cup of candied fruit (see tips)

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A sieve
  • A tea towel
  • A large baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • A pastry brush
  • A saucepan
  • A wooden spoon

Method

  1. Add the yeast and flour to a large mixing bowl and briefly mix them together with a wooden spoon.
  2. Next, add the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, 6 tablespoons of aquafaba, orange blossom water and margarine to the bowl. Use your fingers to knead everything together until well combined into a sticky ball. Then transfer the dough to a floured surfaced and knead for approximately ten minutes, or until the dough is smooth, springy and no longer sticky.
  3. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour, so the dough can rise.
  4. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with a baking sheet.
  5. Uncover the bowl and return the dough to the lightly floured surface. Knead it very briefly before using your fingers to roll it out into a long sausage (about 40cm long). Bring the ends of the sausage together so the dough forms a ring. Set it on down the baking paper and re-cover with the tea towel. Leave it in a warm place for a further hour.
  6. While it’s rising, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Uncover the dough. Briefly mix the remaining aquafaba and milk together to make an ‘egg wash’ and use a pastry brush to dab it over the dough. Pop the dough in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden- if necessary, rotate it in the oven half way through cooking time and dab it with a little more ‘egg wash’ to prevent it from burning. Remove from the oven when ready.
  8. While it’s cooling, pop the apricot jam and a tablespoon of water into a saucepan and warm it over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Briefly stir the jam mixture, then brush it over the brioche using the pastry brush.
  9. Allow the brioche and jam to cool for a few minutes, then decorate with sugar pearls and candied fruit. When ready, cut into slices and serve.
  10. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • If desired, you can use sugar syrup, corn syrup, marmalade or agave syrup for the glaze instead of apricot jam
  • Pearls of sugar are widely available in France for pastry decoration but aren’t that common in many countries. If you can’t get hold of them, they can be substituted with lightly crushed sugar cubes.
  • Most French recipes call for fresh yeast, which also isn’t always easily accessible. If you’re able to get hold of fresh yeast, use 10g instead of the dry active yeast.
  • If desired, you can make your own candied fruit. Cut your chosen fruit into slices and wash them. Pour a cup of water and a cup of sugar into a very clean saucepan with a drop of lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Add the fruit to the pan and allow it to simmer for an hour, then remove the pan from the heat and leave the fruit in the pan for a few hours. When ready, rremove the fruit from the pan and leave it to dry before using it to decorate the Brioche. You can then use the syrup to flavour drinks and ice cream!

Background

Home: Provence, Occitania, Roussillon (France), Romandy (Switzerland)
Pronunciation:
/bʁi.jɔʃ de ʁwa/ (bree-osh de rrhwa)

Relatives: Galette des Rois (Northern France), Dreikönigskuchen (Germany), Bolo-Rei (Portugal), Roscón de Reyes (Spain),  Rosca de Reyes (Latin America), Koningentaart (Belgium), King Cake (Louisiana, U.S.)

History

Epiphany is a Christian feast day which directly follows Twelfth Night, and is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus. Eastern Christians celebrate it by commemorating Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, while Western Christians commemorate the visit of the Magi (the Three Kings, or Wise Men) to baby Jesus: both events represent Jesus’ physical manifestation to the world and the people living in it.

King Cakes are eaten at Epiphany in numerous countries that follow Western Christian traditions. There are many national and regional varieties of King Cake (see ‘relatives’): Brioche des Rois (Kings’ Brioche) is the Provençal version. The cakes are named after the Three Kings whose visit to baby Jesus is being celebrated, and most versions are shaped into a hollow circle and decorated with candied fruit so that they look like a king’s crown. A notable exception is the northern French Galette des Rois, which is solid and not hollow: the southern French brioche is shaped and decorated more similarly to the Spanish Roscón de Reyes and Portuguese Bolo-Rei than to it’s northern relative.

It’s traditional in many countries to hide either a bean or figurine in the King Cake: whoever finds it is declared king or queen of the feast and given a crown to wear!

Provence, France
Robert Brink, Lavender field and Mont Ventoux, 2005
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lavender_field_and_Mont_Ventoux.jpg [accessed 06/01/2021] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License)

Vegan Bûche de Noël

 

Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 11 minutes
Serves: 10Difficulty: Moderate

A Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log, is a French chocolatey Christmas cake. It consists of a sponge, which is rolled up into a log, smeared with chocolate buttercream ‘bark’ and adorned with edible decorations, so it looks just like a real Yule Log!

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 135ml/1⅓ dl/¼ pt/9 tablespoons of aquafaba
  • A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 100g/3½ oz/½ cup of caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 80g/3 oz/⅔ cup of self raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

For the buttercream:

  • 200g/7 oz/just under a cup of dairy free butter or margarine, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 400g/14 oz/just over 3 cups of icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g/2 oz/¼ cup of chestnut purée
  • 50g/2 oz/⅓ cup of vegan milk chocolate, melted

For decoration:

  • Some vegan marzipan (optional)
  • Some roughly ground pistachios (optional)

Special Equipment

  • A 20 x 30cm baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • A pastry brush
  • An electric whisk
  • A large glass or copper mixing bowl, plus a second mixing bowl
  • A sieve
  • A spatula
  • A serving plate or cake board
  • A knife and fork

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Line the baking tray with baking paper, and lightly grease the baking paper with butter using a pastry brush.
  3. Pour the aquafaba and vinegar into a large, very clean mixing bowl. Whisk them together with an electric whisk for ten minutes, or until the aquafaba becomes white, very thick, and stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the sugar to the aquafaba and whisk them together for a further five minutes.
  5. Carefully sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and use a spatula to fold them into the aquafaba mixture. Fold them in (gently) until they’re fully incorporated into the aquafaba, but use the minimum amount of sweeps possible. Do ensure you fold (from side to side) and don’t stir (round and round). This technique will ensure the batter doesn’t lose air, which it needs lots of to rise in the oven.
  6. Gently pour the batter onto the baking paper, and use the spatula to spread it out evenly.
  7. Bake the sponge in the oven for about 11 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and springy. Remove the tray from the oven.
  8. Take a second sheet of baking paper, the same length as the first, and sprinkle it with caster sugar. Upturn the cooked sponge onto this, leave it for a few seconds, then very gently peel off the baking paper it was baked on. Roll the second sheet of baking paper and the sponge together lengthways into a Swiss Roll- you will unfold it and remove the baking paper later, but it needs to be rolled up while it’s still warm and pliable so that it keeps the right shape.
  9. While it’s cooling, make the buttercream. Use the electric whisk to whisk the butter and icing sugar together until well combined and lump free. Then add the chestnut purée and melted chocolate to the bowl and beat them into the buttercream.
  10. When the sponge is cool, unroll it and remove the baking paper. Spoon a third of the buttercream onto the sponge and use a knife to spread it out evenly before re-rolling it. If desired, use the knife to trim the ends of the log to neaten it up.
  11. Transfer the log to a serving plate or cake board. Use a large knife to smear the remaining buttercream over it, ensuring the top and sides are completely covered.
  12. Cut a section off the end of the log and attach this section to the side, so it looks like a little nub of wood. Then use a fork to drag rough lines through the buttercream to give it a bark-like appearance. If desired, you can also make some DIY mushrooms and/or moss to decorate the log with (see tips).
  13. Use a sieve to sprinkle the log with a little icing sugar, so it looks like it’s been dusted with snow.
  14. Bon appetit!

Tips

  • It’s essential that you whisk the aquafaba for ten minutes, and then for a further five minutes after you’ve added the sugar. You also need to gently fold (don’t stir) in the flour. This is because the batter needs to incorporate lots of air so it will rise in the oven, and you don’t want to lose this by stirring it out.
  • If desired, you can fashion some little mushrooms out of marzipan and stick them onto the log.
  • You can also create quite realistic looking ‘moss’ by sprinkling the log with roughly ground pistachios.

Background

Home: France, Switzerland, Belgium

Pronunciation:  ​(boosh de now-ell) [byʃ də nɔɛl]

Relatives: Swiss Roll, Roulade (International), Bisquitrolle (Germany), Génoise  (Italy)

History

The Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log, is named after- and fashioned to look like- the Yule Log once commonly burnt on the hearth at Christmastime. This Northern European tradition can be traced back millennia, to when pre-Christian peoples in Scandinavia, Germania and the British Isles followed Norse and Pagan religions. These peoples celebrated the Winter Solstice, or Yule, at the end of December. Since this time of year was often dark, wet, freezing and miserable, people needed a little light and warmth to get by until after the solstice, when days would slowly begin to get longer and warmer and food would become more bountiful. As such, they celebrated by burning the Yule Log, which provided them with light and warmth: initially they may have burnt entire trees, but it eventually became customary to choose a special log.

Over the centuries, as Christianity spread through the region, the pagan ceremonies associated with the Yule Log were forgotten. But the log itself was still brought in every year and lit on the hearth, and it became a symbol of good luck.

The Bûche de Noël cake is of unknown origin. The first known recipe appeared, alongside several other cake recipes, in Gervaise Markham’s 1615 book, ‘The English Huswife’. By the late 19th century it had been modernized and popularised thanks to the collective efforts of French cooks including Antione Caradot (a Parisian chef), Pierre Lacan (the prince of Monaco’s pastry chef), Alfred Suzanne (a chef and author) and Félix Bonnat (a chocolatier). It was introduced to modern audiences by the American chef Julia Child in 1965, during an episode of The French Chef.

Bûche de Noël is still very popular today, particularly in France and Francophone countries. The French cookery site, Marmiton, has dozens of Bûche de Noël recipes, including logs flavoured with Nutella, chocolate orange, tiramisu, forest fruits, and citrus.

Kerststol

Kerststol is a Dutch sweet bread which contains dried fruit, nuts, citrus and almond paste. It’s very similar to the German Stollen and is eaten during the Christmas period.

Preparation time: 50 minutesTotal time needed for soaking/rising: 24 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves: 20 or more
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the almond paste:

  • 250g/9 oz/2 cups of almonds
  • 250g/9 oz/2 cups of icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 egg white
  • 25ml/¼ dl/1½ tablespoons of water

For the filling:

  • 100g/3½ oz/⅔ cups of chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts)
  • 350g/12 oz/just over 2 cups of dried fruit (currants, sultanas, apricots, figs, cranberries and/or candied peel)
  • 50ml/½ dl/⅕ cup of rum

For the dough:

  • 550g/19½ oz/4½ cups of plain flour, plus extra
  • 260ml/2½ dl/½ pt/1 cup of milk, lukewarm
  • 14g/½ oz/4 teaspoons of dried yeast
  • 80g/3 oz/just under ½ cup of white caster sugar
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 120g/4 oz/½ cup of butter, at room temperature
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

Make it vegan: use soya, almond or oat milk instead of dairy milk and make sure you use a vegan brand of butter. Use aquafaba instead of the egg white, egg and egg yolk: use 1 tablespoon of aquafaba in the almond paste, 4 tablespoons in the dough, and 3 tablespoons for brushing the Kerststol with before before baking.

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • Tea towels
  • A rolling pin
  • One or two large baking trays
  • Baking paper
  • A pastry brush
  • A sieve, for dusting

Method

  1. Make the almond paste the day before you make the Kerststol. To do so, pour the almonds into a blender and process them into they are well ground and powdery. Then add the icing sugar and grind until the almonds and sugar are well blended.
  2. Next, add the lemon juice and egg white to the blender. Pulse them with the almonds and sugar until a smooth paste forms. If needed, add the water.
  3. Cover the almond paste and leave it in the fridge overnight. Mix the dried fruit and rum together in a large mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave overnight.
  4. The next day, make the Kerststol. Add the milk, yeast and half the flour to a large mixing bowl, mix them together and leave them to sit for ten minutes. Then add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, orange zest and juice, egg yolk, one of the eggs and the remaining flour to the bowl and knead everything together by hand for 20 minutes, or until a smooth dough forms. If, after ten minutes of kneading, it seems too sticky, knead in a little flour, and if it seems too dry, add a little more milk.
  5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for 20 minutes so the dough can rise.
  6. Pour the dried fruit onto the dough along with the chopped nuts. Knead the dough, fruit and nuts together for a couple of minutes or until the fruit and nuts are well incorporated. Then separate the dough into two balls and cover them with a tea towel before leaving them in a warm place for a further 20 minutes.
  7. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  8. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Use a rolling pin to roll the two balls out into circles on a floured surface, until the discs are about 2 cm thick. Transfer them to the baking sheets and use a pastry brush to brush them with the beaten egg.
  9. Divide the almond paste in two and use your hands to roll it into two sausages, which need to be slightly shorter than the length of the dough discs. If the paste is too sticky, add a little icing sugar.
  10. Place a sausage along the middle of each dough disc, ensuring there is a little dough left on either side of the ends of the almond paste. 
  11. Brush the edges of the dough discs with more of the beaten egg. Fold one half of each dough disc over the almond paste in the centre, so the discs form semi circles. Ensure the top edges don’t overlap the bottom edges.
  12. Cover the Kerststols with a tea towel and leave them to rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
  13. While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 
  14. Brush the Kerststols with more of the beaten egg (beat another egg if you’ve run out) and pop them in the oven. Bake them for 30 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Rotate them once while they’re cooking so they get an even coverage and turn the temperature down if you feel they’re at risk of browning too quickly.
  15. Remove the Kerststols from the oven and leave them to cool before dusting them with icing sugar.
  16. When ready to eat, cut the Kerststols into slices and eat them with butter and apricot jam.
  17. Smakelijk eten!

Tips

  • When making the almond paste, ensure you grind the almonds to a very fine powdery consistency. Alternatively, you can also buy ready made almond flour in some shops, which will save you the trouble of ensuring they’re finely ground.
  • The Kerststol should keep for three or four days if stored in a sealed container.
  • Kerststol can also be made at Easter, when it’s known as Paasbrood.

Background

Pronunciation: /ˈkɛr.stɔl/ (kers-stohle)
Home: The Netherlands
Relatives: Stollen (Germany), Paneettone (Italy)
History

Kerststol and Stollen are a traditional Christmas treat in the Netherlands and Germany, and are Germanic in origin: it has been suggested that they first originated as a yuletide fertility symbol. During the Middle Ages they were eaten during Advent, and were deliberately made to be plain and unsweetened as Advent was considered to be a time for fasting. It was only from the 15th century onward that Stollen and Kerststol contained butter and became softer, sweeter breads. As time went by classically Christmassy ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, citrus and marzipan were added and they became sweeter still.

Christmastime in the Netherlands is celebrated throughout December. The main event is on the 5th December, St. Nicholas’ Eve, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas), who is said to have arrived in the Netherlands by boat from his home in Spain a few weeks earlier, delivers presents for children. As the largest celebrations take place on the 5th, Christmas itself (Eerste Kerstdag) is a comparatively quiet affair which usually consists of family time, food and church services: it’s actually followed by a second Christmas Day (Tweede Kerstdag), with more of the same, in lieu of Boxing Day. There is less emphasis on presents on Christmas, as most presents were given out on the 5th. Nevertheless, Kerstman (Father Christmas) is said to come from Lapland on Christmas Eve to deliver a few more gifts.

The arrival of Sinterklaas
Sander van der Wel, Intocht van Sinterklaas in Schiedam, 2009
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Intocht_van_Sinterklaas_in_Schiedam_2009_(4102602499)_(2).jpg [accessed 17/12/2020] (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

Rødkål

Rødkål is braised red cabbage which is served as an accompaniment to roast meats. It’s eaten in the Nordic countries- Denmark, Norway and Sweden- all year round, but is particularly popular at Christmas.

Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 65 minutes
Serves: 10 (as a side)Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1kg/35 oz/a moderately large head of red cabbage
  • 50g/2 oz/3 full tablespoons of butter or duck fat
  • 200ml/2dl/⅓ pt/just under a cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 200ml/2dl/⅓ pt/just under a cup of redcurrant juice, or 100ml of redcurrant jelly dissolved in 100ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground allspice

Make it vegan: ensure you use a vegan brand of butter, or replace it with margarine.

Special Equipment

  • A sharp knife
  • A large saucepan with a lid

Method

  1. Finely cut the cabbage with a sharp knife and pop it in the saucepan with the butter. Set it on the hob over a medium heat and allow the cabbage to sauté for two or three minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the vinegar and salt to the pan and allow the cabbage to cook for two or three more minutes, or until it has withered slightly.
  3. Finally, add the redcurrant juice, sugar and allspice to the pan and stir everything together.
  4. Cover the pan with the lid and turn the heat down to low. Cook the Rødkål for an hour, stirring it every once in a while while it cooks. Then remove from the heat and serve immediately.
  5. Velbekomme!

Tips

  • Rødkål should be served as an accompaniment to roast meats or meatballs.
  • If desired, you can substitute the allspice with bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and/or pepper.
  • If you aren’t a fan of vinegar, halve the amount used and substitute it with some extra redcurrant juice.
  • You can also add some sliced apple to the red cabbage to make Rødkål med Abler.

Background

Home: Denmark, Norway, Sweden

Pronunciation: (Roeth-khoel)

Relatives: Rotkhol (Germany), Sauerkraut (Germany), Braised Red Cabbage (UK), Coleslaw (Netherlands)

History

In Denmark Christmas is celebrated from the beginning of Advent through to the end of December. The country’s festive traditions derive from the ancient pagan Norse Jul/Yule celebrations, which were blended with Christian Christmas celebrations after Denmark converted in the 11th century.

The main festive celebrations are held on Juleaften (Christmas Eve), which is preceded by Lillejuleaften (Little Christmas Eve) and followed by a Familiejulefrokost (Family Yule Lunch) on Christmas Day. On the evening of Juleaften Danes eat a large Christmas dinner consisting of roast pork, duck or goose, accompanied by caremalized potatoes, gravy and Rødkål (lit. ‘red cabbage’). This is followed by Risalamande (rice pudding) and Kirsebærsovs (cherry sauce).

Rødkål is an essential part of the meal. It’s also eaten throughout the year as an accompaniment to Frikadeller (meatballs), Flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) and Smørrebrød (an open sandwich), and can be eaten hot or cold.

Glade Jul by Danish artist Viggo Johansen