Mumbai Food: Handy tips to dole out excellent Christmas fare
What's Christmas without gingerbread and pudding? Take it from the experts on how to ace your festive fare
Christmas is incomplete if you cannot spot the Christmas cake and pudding at the dining table. And if you've got a few cutesy gingerbread cookies, it's sure to make for a truly delish frame. With 20 days to go for Christmas, now might be a good time to don the baker's hat. We've got a few handy tips to help you sail through.
Pudding for my puddin'
* When it comes to Christmas cakes, the fruits have to be soaked almost six months in advance in good-quality rum. You don't need too much prep for the pudding though; a week or two should do the trick.
* The right mix of dry fruits is what makes the pudding rich. Use six to seven different dry fruit varieties: dried apricot, dried plums or prunes, cashews, walnuts, candied orange peel, glazed cherries and sultanas. Add to this a combination of cinnamon, clove and cardamom, with cinnamon as the dominant flavour. Throw in a nutmeg drizzle to this spice mix.
* The ratio of flour to fruits can be 1:1.2 or equal parts.
* For both, the cake and the pudding, the slower you cook, the more the flavours will develop. Slow cooking is essential to get the right pudding consistency. Cook on a slow to medium flame, and depending on the size of your pudding bowls, steam for at least one and a half hour. Keep an eye on the water level so that it doesn't go dry.
* Cover your pudding and store it, and steam it again on the day of serving. Flambé with brandy and serve.
* Suet (raw animal fat) is used to make the pudding outside of India; margarine does the trick too.
* Unlike the advance prep for the pudding, when it comes to gingerbread cookies, bake it and eat it should be your motto.
* Chill the dough for 15 to 20 minutes for an even roll out. Don't over-knead the dough.
* You can either use fresh ginger powder or freshly ground ginger. Add a small amount of caramel to give it that rich taste and a slightly brown texture, and skip the colouring. Fresh ginger adds an extra zing to the cookie.
* Though kids might not warm up to the taste of ginger, it is the shape that attracts them. Royal icing might be time-consuming for decoration, but it's a part of the Christmas charm. Use fondant to shape holly leaves, or other decorative motifs.
— Bonnie D'silva of Bonnie's Bakery, home baker Beata Cardozo and Emil Carvalho of American Express Bakery
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