Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and festive season. I can’t believe that its been exactly a month since Christmas; its been just over 2 months since I wrote a blog post; and its now 11 months until next Christmas! Hubbie thought I might get some adverse reactions about mentioning next Christmas, but I love Christmas, so its only 11 months away and counting!
I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, for those that don’t you are under no obligation to read this post and I’ll be back onto other types of cakes soon! For those that do celebrate Christmas – what does it mean to you? For me it means a lot of things – which is probably why I love it so much. It means a great excuse to catch up with friends; it means spending time with family; it means eating lots of yummy food; it means listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies; it means Christmas cards, Christmas lights and decorations, Santa and even pressies! For my hubbie Christmas means being wined and dined and lots of social events. In 2012 I didn’t attend one Christmas party because I wasn’t working, this year I attended too many (especially with every else that I had planned for December) and even ended up giving one a miss – and I only attended about half as many as hubbie did!
I realise Christmas originated to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by Christians and some people dislike what it has become (e.g. Santa Claus and presents) and blame commercialisation. Christmas, like most things, is what you make of it. The pastor at the church where we make cards said that family, friends, food, presents are all nice things at Christmas, but the most important thing about Christmas is that it celebrates Jesus Christ and all he did for us. However for all that are non-Christians, I believe Christmas signifying family, friends, goodwill and compassion are wonderful. In our busy lives we make the extra effort to take this one day off a year and spend it with loved ones. If that is what Christmas means, how could it be bad?
Leading up to Christmas I try to catch up with friends and this year I was lucky to be visited by one of my older friends from university and two of her sisters (she was living in London and I hadn’t seen her for 2 years; she is now living back in Sydney). I am usually pretty organised with presents, however I am shocking at giving out Christmas cards! I think about it in October and then again in November, then next thing you know it is Christmas Eve so I am scrambling to wrap pressies and write cards for anyone I am seeing Christmas Day! Then Christmas Day is entirely left for catching up with family and eating scrumptious foods!
My Christmas Day is made up of having brunch at my parents house. Mum cooks up a full English breakfast – eggs, fried bread, bacon, black pudding, sausages, mushrooms, fried tomatoes and baked beans! Oh, champagne and orange juice too! Unless we are travelling, it is the only time of year we have all of this – the only time of year we have black pudding! I have only missed one Christmas breakfast ever and that was in 2011, and that was a sad Christmas Day for me. It just wasn’t Christmas without Mum’s breakfast and seeing Mum and Dad.
Then on Christmas evenings we alternate between going to hubbie’s parents or going to my extended family gathering and seeing all of my Aunts and Uncles. If we are spending the evening with my family, then ham, turkey/chicken & cranberry sauce, pork and apple sauce, coleslaw, Christmas pudding and Pavlova are on the menu. All those delicious foods mean Christmas to me. I know they mean something to my cousins as well and I have heard a bit of whinging if the pork crackling doesn’t crackle!
When we were growing up Mum used to cook a full Christmas dinner on Boxing Day. Now cooking a turkey and all the trimmings is a big ask on Boxing Day in Australia, because the temperatures are usually soaring. I know a lot of Australians have adopted seafood as their Christmas dinner, but both my parents are from the U.K. so I guess the more traditional Christmas dinner stuck. With my sisters and I moving out and starting our own families, it got harder and harder for all of us to be able to make our family Christmas dinner and it has dwindled away. But I remember clearly all the trimmings that accompanied our turkey – cranberry sauce of course, bacon was draped over the turkey and the turkey was stuffed, gravy, chipolatas, pork and apple sauce (for bigger turnouts), roast potatoes, pumpkin (sweet potato in later years), broad beans (yuck), beer soaked brussel sprouts (maybe 2 made my plate in sufferance!) and Yorkshire puddings! Dessert was brandy soaked Christmas pudding and we were always excited to see the blue flame as Mum brought the pudding in. And to accompany the pudding was brandy sauce, custard and in later years brandy cream! Mmmmm…. Christmas
Christmas this year was having breakfast at Mum and Dad’s and it was the first year in a few years that both my sisters and I were there. That evening hubbie’s parents came over for dinner – we usually visit them, but because we were flying out to the U.K. the day after Boxing Day, they offered to come up. I made a Margaret Fulton Christmas dinner – turkey breast with a raspberry sauce, honeyed carrots, green beans with almonds, chipolatas and caramelised potatoes. Then for dessert I turned to Nigella Lawson’s Italian Christmas Pudding Cake – which was mouth-watering if I am allowed to say that!
Every year my Mum makes a Christmas cake and she still makes it now and Dad is usually eating it with lunch until Easter! In 2012 I made my first Christmas cake, but didn’t end up eating it until my birthday! Mum’s Christmas cake is a rich fruit cake covered in marzipan and royal icing and I love it!
This year I made a few cakes relating to Christmas in cake decorating class, which is what Part 2 of this post will be about. But I have 4 cakes to show you now. The first three I made together and they were all gifts! One was a thank you to our cleaner, another was for a friend’s Mum and the third was for my youngest sister who loves my fruit cake. I am a bit upset I forgot to get an individual photo of my sister’s cake because it was the unique one with red and green glitter – there was a shortage of silver glitter because of Christmas!
When I was making these cakes I had the ribbon and glitter and knew I wanted to make some royal icing and have it falling like snow/icicles. But other than that I had no idea what I was going to decorate them with. In cake decorating class we had made lots of fondant ornaments and I had some left. There was no way for me to attach the decorations to the side of the cakes with the icicles and I tested positioning them standing on top (with some fondant behind them keeping them up) and I thought they looked pretty good. I hope you agree
On Boxing Day we had my family, hubbie’s parents and one of his aunties over for lunch. Because we were going away we were going to miss school holidays and not get to see everyone for a while, so we thought why not have them over for lunch since they were all in Perth. So I made a small Christmas cake for Boxing Day. It was one of the first cakes I made myself that needed dowels in it – so the bottom layer wouldn’t sag under the weight of the second layer. However I didn’t do a very good job because it was the leaning tower of Christmas Tree by the time it reached the table.
I’ll write more about the Christmas Tree in Part 2 of the blog because I made it in cake decorating class. But because we were going away and because our puppies are still naughty and chew things, we didn’t put up a Christmas Tree this year – so this was my Christmas Tree, which is being ogled by my beautiful niece and nephew and being guarded by A Christmas Carol peg dolls made by Natasha Morgan!
I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and please let me know what Christmas means to you!