Relation between Christmas and cake
We can all agree that Christmas is not complete without the traditional Christmas cake. December 25 is just around the corner, and many households have already started preparing to bring in the joyous festival that marks the birth of Jesus. While some people like to make Xmas cakes at home, for most of us, it’s easier to pick a loaf or two from our favourite bakery. With all this talk about Christmas cake, let us go back to where the relation between Christmas and cake began. One simple explanation is that spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves are known to bring warmth, which is certainly required in countries where it snows in the winter. But let’s have a look at the tales of Christmas cakes and how this delicious dessert came to be associated with this festival.
Importance of cakes during Christmas
The relation between Christmas and cake is far too old. But another connection between the two is that cake used to be the party highlight of the Twelfth Night, which took place from December 24 to January 5. Another reason is that cake was used to line the stomach after a day of fasting on Christmas Eve.
It all began with porridge in England: The ancestry of Xmas cakes lies in Medieval English tradition of eating plum porridge, a peculiar creation consisting of beef, a broth thickened with slices of bread, prunes, raisins, currents, lemons, a heady mix of spices, sugar, and wine. This gelatinous broth would
solidify into a jelly and consumed in that form. The choice of spices changed with time, as did the custom of making this jelly porridge for Christmas, which was replaced by the plum pudding.
In Elizabethan England, people began adding flour, eggs, and butter to this spiced concoction which turned into a cake. The meat was taken out of the equation entirely and was cooked served as a separate dish. The cake batter was then boiled for a long time in a muslin cloth, while more affluent households that possessed ovens baked this batter. The cake was aged a few weeks before
Christmas and served upside down with a sprig of holly as decoration.
It's unclear why it is called Christmas plum cake, even though there is no use of plums in the recipe. It could be because the Medieval English often referred to currents and raisins are “plumbs”.
The modern-day Xmas cake is covered with marzipan, and often decorated with Christmas-themed motifs. There are different versions of this all around the world. Here are some popular Christmas cakes from all around the world, and the traditions that surround eating them.
Stollen: The German variation of the Christmas cake is the stollen, a loaf of fruit bread with nuts, spices, and marzipan. It is usually covered with butter and dusted with icing sugar as soon as its out of the oven. The resultant bread is sweet, moist, and melt-in-the mouth. The stollen was first made sometime in the 13th century in Dresden. You can try out the stollen at Theobroma, easily the
seasonal favourite. Try our classic stollen, dark chocolate, or candied orange variations.
Buche de Noel: France has the Yule log or the Buche de Noel, inspired by the Medieval French tradition of placing a log from the Yule tree in a hearth to burn for all 12 days of Christmas (till January 5). People often sprinkled it with salt, holy water, or wine to prolong the log's burning time. The tradition was believed to bring good luck. One of Theobroma’s holiday bestsellers is the Yule log,
a modern version of the classic Christmas dessert. Ours is made with chocolate mousse and is layered with mixed berry compote and strawberry jelly.
King cake: Portugal has the king’s cake or bolo rei for Christmas, associated with the Three Kings who brought gifts for baby Jesus. It’s a yeasted bread, so think of it as a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry, or even a cinnamon roll. It’s usually round with a hole in the centre, decorated with bright colours. This cake is also eaten during Mardi Gras in the United States.
Sponge cake: In Japan, this cake is eaten on Christmas Day. Though the Japanese do not celebrate it as an official holiday, some traditions associated with the festival have come up in the past few decades. This sponge cake is covered in snow-like whipped cream and decorated with bright red
strawberries. The colours of the flag echo the Japanese flag. Theobroma also has an array of sponge cakes like the Fresh Cream Pineapple Cake and the newly launched Black Forest Cake that would make great additions to your festive table.
Christmas cake in India: British, French, and Portuguese colonies have left many culinary indentations in the Indian cuisine. The Christmas cake was also brought to the country by them, and soon regional variations were added. Soon after, these cakes became staples. The Allahbadi cake is one such variation made in Uttar Pradesh. Besides having the usual ingredients of an Xmas cake, this includes ghee, petha, fennel seeds, and locally made marmalade. In Goa, there’s the baath cake that is made with semolina, desiccated coconut, and ghee. It’s usually baked on the stovetop as opposed to an oven.
If you want to bring some festive charm to your December 25 festivities, why not try Theobroma’s delightfully scrumptious Christmas cake? It is abundant with flavours of dried fruit like dates, prunes, candied orange peel, almonds, and home-blended spices. You can pick up the small 350 grams size
or go for the full-sized 750 grams cake if you are having a party or just have a festive sweet tooth. Theobroma also has eggless versions of Christmas cakes in both sizes for customers with dietary restrictions.