Monday, December 21, 2009

Cool Christmas Cakes

Although traditionally a Christian holiday, Christmas is also widely celebrated by many non-Christians, and some of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and christmas cakes. Christmas cake is a type of fruitcake served at Christmas time in the UK, USA, Ireland, Japan, Philippines and many Commonwealth countries. A Christmas cake may be light or dark, crumbly-moist to sticky-wet, spongy to heavy, leavened or unleavened, shaped round, square or oblong as whole cakes, fairy cakes, or petit fours, with marzipan, icing, glazing, dusting with icing sugar, or plain, etc. A particular favourite of many is the traditional Scottish Christmas cake, the Whisky Dundee. As the name implies, the cake originated in Dundee and is made with Scotch whisky. It is a light and crumbly cake, and light on fruit and candied peel—only currants, raisins, sultanas and cherries. This Christmas cake is particularly good for people who don't like very rich and moist cakes. As with all fruitcakes, the almonds (or other nuts) can be omitted by people who don't like them or those with severe nut allergies. At the other end of the Christmas cake continuum, the apple creme Christmas cake is a rich mix of finely sliced apples, raisins and other fruit, with eggs, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream. In the middle of the spectrum is the mincemeat Christmas cake, which is simply any traditional or vegetarian mincemeat mixed with flour, eggs, etc., to transform it into a cake batter; or it can also be steamed as a Christmas pudding. Coins were also occasionally added to Christmas Cakes as well as Christmas Puddings as good luck Touch Pieces. The usual choices were silver 3d piece, or sixpences, sometimes wrapped in grease proof paper packages. In Northern England, Christmas cake, as with other types of fruit cake, is often eaten with cheese, such as Wensleydale.

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