Heavenly Christmas Trifle; Layers and Layers of Delectable Deliciousness!
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
-Norman Vincent Peale
My mother always used to say that it’s not what you eat between Christmas and New Years that matters; it’s what you eat between New Years and Christmas!
And of course she is right. If there’s any time to pull out all the stops and really indulge in the culinary gifts this world has to offer, surely it must be Christmas time! There will be a lot of media telling you how to keep your waist slim and your plate green during the holidays, but if I may, let me just for a minute lead you into temptation this Christmas. Be kind to your mind and leave the diets and the guilty conscience to the other 352 days of the year! (There’s 13 days of Christmas by Scandinavian tradition)
I’m certainly going to do my bit to get you in the Christmas spirit!
Do you have some pudding or Christmas Cake left over? Perhaps you made my Decadent and Moist Dark Chocolate Christmas Cake with a Scandinavian Twist? Then you can find great use for it in this recipe; the delicious Christmas Pudding Trifle!
The waiting game..
Technically we’re still in advent. Christmas doesn’t really start in Norway until the bells ring at 5pm on Christmas Eve!
In Scandinavia we take advent rather seriously. Our advent calendars are little works of art, and there’s a tradition for almost every day. We decorate the house in purple (the colour of advent) and light one new candle per week, from the first to the last of four Sundays before Christmas Eve (or “Jul”) on December 24th.
Nothing was ever as magical as advent growing up, and I still remember the moods so fondly! Like waking up in the pitch black every morning to go to school in the snow, only to stop by a little wall of miniature gifts lovingly put together by my mum. There would be stickers and figurines and all sorts of treats, usually accompanied by tears from my little sister who wanted exactly the same treat as me at the exact same time. Of course, the presents were all the same, only on different days, but try explaining that to a tired 5 year-old.
The Norwegian cake ghosts..
Did you know that according to Scandinavian tradition, all the cleaning and baking must be done by December 13, or the spirits will cause you all kinds of trouble! As far as
baking is concerned, we are supposed to bake 7 types of Christmas cakes and biscuits to be off the hook (Norway’s Seven Types of Christmas Cakes). Pudding and fruit cake isn’t technically a part of the Norwegian 7, but now that I’ve married into the Aussie ranks, I believe I’ll have to make mine a whopping 8 types of Christmas Cakes!
Not unlike the idea of Halloween, tradition has it that spirits and trolls and ghosts gather, and fly around from farm to farm (or house to house) on the 13th of December to make sure all the chores are done. It’s called the “Lussi Night” .
The 13th was the longest night of the year in the old Norse calendar, and to this day we dress up in white capes, put candles in our hair and sing Lucia songs to light up dark corners.
What was originally a celebration of the martyr St Lucia (year 300), has been mixed with thousand year-old Norse traditions, and is to this day a beautiful advent tradition embraced lovingly in both Sweden and Norway (More about the Scandinavian St. Lucia’s Day)
From Scandinavian traditions to British;
For those of you who are interested in a bit of Christmas history, did you know that Plum Pudding never technically did contain plums? Or that Christmas Cake originally was a porridge?
The fruity and rich Christmas Cakes and puddings as we know them, began simply as plum porridge. People ate the porridge on Christmas Eve, using it to line their stomachs after the “vigil”; a day of fasting for Christmas Eve (3). Eventually the porridge developed into a pudding and a cake, after people added fruit, eggs, oats and flour in it to hold it together. Both the cake and the pudding were boiled, as a means of softening the rather dry and chewy treat.
Boiled plum pudding and boiled fruitcake eventually existed side by side depending on which ingredients the housewife used.
In the 17th century, “plums” simply referred to raisins or other fruits. The original Plum Pudding wasn’t even a Christmas dessert at all! Originally, the boiling of various ingredients in a cloth was a means of preserving the food.
During the Puritan reign in England, plum pudding was outlawed as “sinfully rich, but in 1714, King George I (sometimes known as the Pudding King) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast on his first Christmas in England.
Finally, it was not until the 1830s that the round ball of flour, fruits, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance, becoming more and more associated with Christmas. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope (1).
Traditionally in England, small silver charms were baked into the plum pudding. A silver coin for wealth in the coming year; a wishbone for good luck; a silver thimble, thrift; an anchor, safe harbour. By Victorian times, only the silver coin remained, but you can still buy these charms throughout England to put in your own pudding (2)!
Although most Christmas Puddings we see these days have the shape of a “pudding bowl”, the “original” English Plum Pudding, prior to the 19th century, was boiled in a pudding cloth and usually represented as round. The new Victorian era fashion involved putting the batter into a basin and then steaming it, followed by unwrapping the pudding, placing it on a platter, and decorating the top with a sprig of holly (source). Although the newer methods are easier, they don’t by far give the same result.
If you want to learn more about the history of the fruit cake or plum pudding, there are some fun facts to be found on “The Christmas Archives“. Amongst other things you can read about how a pea and a bean were baked into the cake for the big balls of the great houses, making whoever found it king and queen of the party, whom everybody had to obey for the night!
Heavenly Christmas Trifle
I really wanted to do a recipe that shows how you can use Plum Pudding and Christmas Cake in more than one way, and for the occasion I chose a trifle. Trifles are super easy, anyone can make them, and they are delicious and impressive looking! For kids or those who wouldn’t mind a bit of a modern twist to the traditional Christmas dessert, this trifle is perfect!
I made the trifle in mason jars so that they can be served in portions, given as gifts or simply sealed with a lid for storing in the fridge. It worked a charm, and don’t they just look super cute?
- 3 oranges, keep some zest aside – about 1 tsp (remember to clean the peel before you zest it)
- 1 tbsp muscovado sugar (soft, brown sugar)
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, brandy, sherry or similar (Grand Marnier gives a lovely orange flavour though)
- 300 grams leftover Christmas pudding or Christmas Cake (Try this recipe)
- 500 grams thick custard
- 250 gram pot mascarpone
- 284 ml pot double cream
- Dark chocolate, grated
- Roasted almonds, chopped
Find a suitable trifle bowl, or make it up in individual glasses like I did.
1) Peel and slice the oranges (I cut off the white to reveal the beautiful orange flesh in the trifle)
2) Spread muscovado across the oranges, and pour the Grand Marnier over them. Set them aside and let soak.
3) Whip the mascarpone till it’s fluffy, then stir in the custard
4) Crumble the Christmas Pudding or Cake into the bottom of your bowl or jar, cover with a layer of oranges and pour the juices over the layer
5) Spoon your mascarpone custard on top of the oranges, then sprinkle some grated chocolate and nuts across
6) Lightly whip the double cream. You can either stir some grated chocolate through the whipped cream, or just leave it for the top. You can also choose whether you’d like to sweeten the cream or not.
7) Sprinkle some orange zest through the whipped cream.
8) Spoon the whipped cream over top of the pudding
9) Decorate with chopped almonds and grated dark chocolate. You can try to make little chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler!
This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food
sources: (1)various sources/ wikipedia.com (2) whatscookingamerica.net (3) http://www.englishteastore.com/history-christmas-cake.html