Posts Categorized: Christmas

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Just because Christmas is over (phew) doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating, right? Down here in the Southern Hemisphere it’s hot and bright and the heartily-warm comfort-food style Christmas desserts sometimes just don’t cut it on a breezy summer afternoon; we turn to our summer favourite, Pavlova… with a twist.

Classics and favourites exist like fairytales, we love them and bring them out time and time again to the delight of our wide-eyed guests. But once in a while a slight nudge in an unexpected direction reignites the passion and is as welcome as that summer breeze after a hot December day. It’s certainly clear that Pavlova is by far the fairest of them all, but who wants fair all the time!

I’ve posted about Pav before and this recipe is based on the classic. All that is required is a tweak, to the sugar and the vinegar. The addition of the golden brown sugar and dark vinegar transforms this classic from snow white to wicked queen but still maintains all the goodness.

Begin with the basic Pavlova recipe based on Stephanie Alexander’s from The Cook’s Companion.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
200 grams of golden caster sugar combined with 50 grams of light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
A few drops of pure vanilla

 The Topping

250ml of thickened cream (for whipping)
250 grams of strawberries, hulled and roughly sliced
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
1/2 cup each of raspberries and blueberries

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat your oven to 180c. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Add the golden sugar a little at a time and beat until shiny and stiff (and no longer gritty). Add the vanilla, balsamic vinegar and cornflour and gently fold into the mixture until combined.

Transfer the glossy and wickedly-tinted meringue onto a prepared baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Gently flatten the mound a little and smooth out the sides. Don’t worry too much about the look of it at this point as you’ll invert this one after cooking.

Place into the oven and reduce the temperature to 150c and bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce again to 120c and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely. I often bake it the night before the party and leave it in the oven overnight.

Two hours before you’re planning to serve, place the chopped strawberries, additional sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl and mix well to coat. Allow the fruit to steep in the vinegar mixture for at least 2 hours, longer if you have the time. This magically transforms the berries into a new taste sensation and transforms the vinegar into a delicious syrup.

Assembly required

Whip the cream to soft peaks and dollop onto the meringue base. Arrange the marinated strawberries on top, followed by the other berries. Drizzle the reserved vinegar syrup over the fruit for a delightful twist on the original.

If it’s terribly hot, pop the Pav back into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Enjoy with an evening breeze and a dip in the nearest pool.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

A Christmas Years in the Making Part 2: Flame On!

Christmas Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

The time eventually came for pudding – and it didn’t disappoint.

We saved our pudding for New Year’s Day which might become its own tradition at The Scandinavian Baker HQ. As indicated I opted for showy and awe-inspiring  when it came to the brandy.

The Method
See: A Christmas Years in the Making Part 1 to prepare.

Pour half the warmed brandy over the pudding. Take a match and light the remaining brandy in the saucepan. Take control of the elements and pour bright living flame onto the pudding and make it the best New Year ever!

Christmas Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

Even my self-proclaimed pudding hater friend devoured her slice – perhaps I have a convert?

Behold…

Christmas Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

A Christmas Years in the Making

Brandy :: The Scandinavian Baker

Everyone has a favourite home-made treat at Christmas time. For sure, the Christmas Pudding has to be up there with the best.

My Mum has beautiful recipe book that was handwritten by her mother. It’s filled with the recipes that have become our celebration meals and shaped our shared history – including Christmas Pudding.

It’s a wonderful thing to be now cooking these recipes for my family and friends.  The recipes travel with me and make up some of my cook-them-with-my-eyes-closed celebration standards.

Mixed dried fruit :: The Scandinavian Baker

The first Christmas we lived in Finland I managed to convince the Finn’s family to have Christmas twice (it wasn’t that hard to do).

The first Christmas would be on the 24th, the traditional day for the Scandinavians, and the second would be on the 25th featuring the best an Australian Christmas had to offer – including the Christmas Pudding. Our cousin excelled himself and cooked one of the best turkeys I’ve ever eaten – I think I may have started a tradition.

Christmas Pudding ingedients :: The Scandinavian Baker

Christmas Pudding

The pudding was unfamiliar to all, which made it even more exciting when I revealed the giant, cloth-wrapped behemoth and told them I needed a serving plate that wouldn’t crack if it was set on fire.

The Pantry

454 grams of fresh breadcrumbs (homemade, not the ultra-fine store bought kind – these will not work, put them back)

340 grams of unsalted butter, softened

113 grams of plain flour

340 grams of brown sugar

454 grams of currants

454 grams of raisins

113 grams of mixed peel

8 large eggs

1 wine glass of brandy (approx 150 mls)

Teaspoon of salt

1 pudding cloth, plus extra flour for dusting.

Clean pudding coins (for luck)

NOTE: The weights are a little strange as the original recipe is measured in Imperial weights.

This recipe works brilliantly halved if you’re not feeding a horde. Just adjust the cooking time by half plus 30 minutes.

Homemade breadcrumbs :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Breadcrumbs

To make the bread crumbs begin the day before. Take a fresh plain loaf of bread, regular store-bought sliced white actually works the best. Empty the slices into a bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave to bread to go stale overnight.

The next day crumble the bread in to rough crumbs. The crumbs don’t need to be very small, just even and no larger than your thumb nail. Rubbing the bread lightly between your hands in a circular motion gives good results. Huzzah! Crumbs.

Christmas Pudding ingredients :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Mixture

Start early in the day. (You’ll see why below)

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until well combined. Don’t panic if the mixture begins to split, the dry ingredients will help it all reincorporate.

Add the flour and salt and mix well. Add the fruit and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Now, this is the important part. Add the brandy at once and stir. It’s tradition with this pudding for each family member to take a turn at mixing in the brandy and make a Christmas wish for their effort – proceed.

Once combined and wishes complete you can add pudding coins if you want to. Mix again.

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How to prepare your pudding cloth

In a large saucepan place a heat proof plate and cover with water. Bring to the boil.

Lay out your clean and dry pudding cloth onto a table or the kitchen bench. Sprinkle the surface with flour and using your hands evenly spread the flour across the cloth. Get ready to wrap.

Pudding batter :: The Scandinavian Baker

Working quickly scrape the pudding mixture into a mound on the pudding cloth, bring up the edges of the cloth, forming a slightly squat ball and tie the cloth firmly with cotton roasting twine. Tie it as tightly as you can. Make a loop in the end of the twine to hang the pudding from later.

Once tied, lower your pudding into the boiling water and top up to cover. The pudding will float, so don’t worry of the top isn’t entirely covered. Pop a lid on top and boil for (wait for it) 6-7 hours.

Wrapped Christmas Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

Once the time has passed turn off the stove and gently lift the pudding from its bath. Hold it over a bowl until the cooking water has stopped dripping. The pudding now needs to hang in a cool breezy location to dry out and form a skin. It can last for months, but over the years, we’ve been known to whip it up a week before Christmas and the result is just as good.

To Serve

To serve the pudding it will need to be reheated in a pot of boiling water for an hour until warmed through. Now comes the fancy part. Gently unwrap your pudding and invert onto a flame-resistant serving plate.

Gently heat half a cup of brandy right before you’re ready to present the pudding. Don’t let it boil.

Christmas Pudding on the boil :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Brave and the Bold

There a two ways to do this. One: pour the warmed brandy over the pudding and light it with a match. The pudding will ignite and dazzle your guests with a stunning blue flame for a few minutes. Once the flames and applause have died down cut into generous slices and serve with cream, custard, ice cream or more brandy.

Two: (My preferred method) pour half the warmed brandy over the pudding. Take a match and light the remaining brandy in the saucepan. Take control of the elements and pour bright living flame onto the pudding and make it the best Christmas ever! (Photos to come)

Again: Once the flames and applause have died down cut into generous slices and serve with cream, custard, ice cream or more brandy.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas – Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!

Marimekko Christmas tree :: The Scandinavian Baker