Christmas Cakes Around the World

During the winter holiday everyone has a little more time and affinity for homemade delicacies. It doesn't matter if the result will be some afternoon nosh or the jewel of the beautifully set table on Christmas Eve. The forms, colors, ingredients, decoration and flavours of these cakes may vary according to the diferent traditions in each country, but Christmas time is definitely a season of special sweets everywhere.
Hungary : Diós Bejgli, Mákos Bejgli, Mézeskalács

In Hungary 'bejgli' is the traditional Christmas cake. The ingredients are very important: the poppy seeds symbolize wealth, abundance and fertility while the walnut was known for keeping away the bad spirits from the house. It is not only a belief as the walnut is full of important vitamins and essential fatty acides so surely it helped to guard good health. Bejgli is originated from Silesia and became popular in Hungary during the 19th century as it was spread by the Austrians. Preparing it requires a little experience, especially if you want it to be nicely mottled. The key ingredients are butter, flour, eggs, yeast and milk from which you make a butter pastry dough. That will be filled with ground poppy seeds cooked in sugary milk or ground walnuts and raisins. Mézeskalács is the local version of gingerbread made with delicious honey and exotic spices.

Spain : Turrón, Roscón de Reyes

Turrón is a very traditional cake in Spain, it even features in a 16th century recipe book. It is a dense, sticky, very sweet delicacy made with honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds, which probably originates from the Arabian regions. There are two different variations: it can be a massive block with whole almonds in it, or the almonds may be reduced to a paste which results in a softer consistency. Usually the shape is either rectangular or round. El Roscón de Reyes : this dessert is traditionally consumed during the celebration of Epiphany, or the coming of the three Magi to the baby Jesus. Often they also place a little trinket or a dry bean in the cake which is shaped like a crown. The basic ingredients are flour, milk, yeast, sugar, butter and egg yolks. You may add various flavors like rhum, vanilla, orange zest or orange blossom water. The decoration consists of dried fruits.

England : Christmas Pudding

The legendary British Christmas Pudding has been consumed already in medieval England, and it was a symbol of unity. The pudding is usually made months before December as it needs time to develop all its flavors. Fortunately the high alcohol content preserves it from spoiling and the traditional making process is that you mix the ingredients (flour, breadcrumbs, butter, eggs, sugar, brandy, apples and dried fruits) then you steam it in a basin for several hours or cook it in boiling water. After you must package the pudding into a clean table cloth and let it mature in the cellar or any other shady and cool place. It is often decorated with holly.

France : Buche de Noel

Though at first glance it may not seem very romantic and Christmas like, in reality this dessert symbolizes the ancient Celtic tradition of burning an enormous tree trunk on the shortest day of the year, celebrating the Winter Solstice this way. It was a tribute to the warmth of life and the rebirth of the sun. According to the beliefs certain trees (like cherry or oak) possessed mystical powers. But aside all that, Buche de Noel is still a delicious and rich dessert, usually designed as a tree trunk: it is basically a sweet, dense chocolate butter cream wrapped in sponge cake and decorated to resemble the above mentioned Yule log of the ancient tradition.

+ 1 Funny Knack

Nowadays matcha powder is very popular because of its benefits and charming electric green color. Try and fresh up the well-known gingerbread recipe with a spoonful of matcha powder: the result will be be a cheerful, Grinch-like color.

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