The Big Bake

Christmas is coming and there’s nothing a good cook likes better than the orderly preparations that begin with making the puddings and rich fruit cakes – once they’re made and stored, there’s a sense of things being under control…This month’s recipes tie in with the new season cookbooks (see Book Reviews).

Roly's Christmas PuddingRoly's Christmas Pudding

Although not in the newly published Roly's Café & Bakery cookbook (see Book Reviews), this is one of many treats currently on the Christmas menu at Roly’s Café. The cookbook does, however, include some very pretty cupcakes – and a mean biscuit cake - either of which would make nice little Christmas presents. Makes 2 x 1lb puddings

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Edward Hayden's Christmas Cake from Edward EntertainsEdward Hayden's Christmas cake

Down at Dunbrody House, celebrity chef Kevin Dundon (author of the hugely successful Great Family Food), has Edward Hayden as his right hand man, and he too has written a successful book, Edward Entertains (€25 online, from his website).

This traditional recipe from the book is, he says “The nicest recipe for fruit cake that I have ever come across… adapted from a recipe given to me by my very good friend, Mary Woods. There are several stages to it (soaking fruit, lining the tin, making the cake, icing and decorating the cake)… it’s a great way of involving children in cooking and they can get a real sense of achievement in it.”

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Bûche de Noel

Cakes from Around the World by Julie DuffThe traditional rich fruit cake seems to be a love it or loathe it affair - personally I wouldn’t be without it, not so much for Christmas itself when there is so much other food around, but to brighten the dark days of January when the recent indulgence is but a distant dream.

On a gloomy afternoon, a cup of tea and a slice of darkly juicy fruit cake is just heaven, such a lovely cosy feeling. Bûche de Noel makes a delicious Christmas alternative for those who don’t like rich fruit cake and, although it doesn’t keep like the cake, it makes a great dessert so it could also be offered instead of the plum pudding.

From Julie Duff’s book, Cakes From Around the World (Grub Street, paperback stg£14.99), this chocolate roulade is traditional to France and Quebec, to serve on Christmas Day. “Chestnut purée and fresh cream are blended together to fill and ice this delectable cake. It can then be decorated with a sprig of fresh holly and sprinkled with icing sugar 'snow'.”

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