Cakes are to Christmas what pies are to Thanksgiving – a traditional treat that finishes off dinner. Christmas cakes tend to have fancy flavor combinations due to the special nature of the holiday. They also tend to be decadent, partially because people worry less about dieting during the winter months and partly because decadent just tastes good. From traditional fruitcake to non-traditional mocha cakes, there are Christmas cakes that suit many different tastes.
Fruitcake, which hails from England, is a heavy cake filled with candied or dried fruits. It may also contain nuts and spices. The cake can be served plain or with icing. Traditional fruitcake is usually soaked in liquor, such as rum, for several weeks to add some bite to this very sweet and chewy cake. Soaking is done by wrapping liquor-soaked cheesecloth around the cake, and placing the cake in an airtight container. More liquor is added every few days until the desired potency is reached.
Buche De Noel
Buche de Noel, also known as a yule log, is a French Christmas tradition. The rolled cake is typically covered with chocolate to resemble a yule, or Christmas, log. The dessert is usually made with chocolate sponge cake that is covered with a filling and rolled into a log shape. The cake is covered with dark chocolate frosting with streaks that look like bark. The cake may then be topped with powdered sugar snow and candy holly leaves. Filling for the cake ranges from simple flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate, to gourmet flavors, like peppermint cream and cherry mocha.
Stollen is a yeasty cake that’s served after Christmas dinner in Germany. Like fruitcake, stollen is filled with an assortment of dried fruits. Traditionally, the sweet cake is topped with a thin icing and may be adorned with candied cherries. More of a sweet bread than a traditional cake, a stollen is oval in shape with the ends pinched together. This shape symbolically mimics the shape of a swaddled baby.
Native to Italy, panettone is another type of yeasty sweet bread. Served at Christmas, as well as other special times, the cake is filled with a variety of fruits and nuts, most notably raisins and pine nuts. The very tall cake has a citrusy bite because it is often made with citron, a citrus fruit with a flavorful rind.
In addition to the traditional, there are many non-traditional cakes served throughout the world for Christmas dinner. From mocha chocolate cake with peppermint filling to red sponge cake with green whipped cream frosting, anything is possible. Gingerbread cake with white icing is a spicy dessert, as is apple cider cake with cinnamon frosting. A snowman-shaped cake covered with coconut flakes adds a winter-themed twist to your Christmas dessert. A caramel cake with pecan frosting provides an extra-sweet end to your Christmas dinner.
- The Christmas Cook: Three Centuries of American Yuletide Sweets: William Woys Weaver
- Saveur: Buche de Noel
- The Oxford Companion to America Food and Drink: Andrew F Smith
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion: Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
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