December Recipes – Dutch Christmas Ring

by Louise Forster

I can’t remember a Christmas without the traditional Dutch Christmas Ring, (Kerstkrans).

Although most Dutch housewives don’t bake;at least during the time I spent there none of them did. Besides, their bakeries/patisserie displays had the most delicious cakes.unnamed (1)

From memory my aunt’s kitchens were quite small, but size didn’t matter when it came to preparing family dinners. Always fresh vegetables with a small portion of meat.

I can also remember my aunts, good-naturedly, discussing the day’s bread or the selection of cakes. Or isn’t his new apprentice awesome (geweldig) and handsome (en knap). My aunts were loyal towards their local baker, and he in turn would go out of his way to accommodate their wishes. (No franchise bakeries, all owner run. I doubt that has changed).

My cousin has diabetes, and with every celebration my aunt’s baker would make her a special sugarless cake, just as fancy and delicious as everyone else’s. This also included a small Christmas ring.

For the rest of the family my aunt’s would order their Christmas rings by the pound.

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The only tricky part in this recipe is easing the finished pastry and almond mix  into a circle.

Instead of apricot jam and glacé cherries, I used lemon icing and fresh cherries .

Merry Christmas everyone, and a safe, Happy New Year.

Celebration Christmas Wreath

Marzipan (almond paste) filling:

  • 125g   ground almonds
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Finely grated rind of a lemon
  • Juice of a lemon (If a stronger flavour is preferred, then use more lemon rind).

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste. Cover and leave to stand for an hour.  (You can also make it the day before and leave it in the fridge. Take it out half an hour before you are ready to roll it out to make a long sausage)

Puff pastry: you can make your own or use readymade puff pastry.

To decorate:

  • Apricot jam
  • And if you wish : Glazed cherries (mixed colours)  and strips of orange peel

Roll out the pastry thinly, about ½ cm thick, into an oblong shape of about 35-40 cm long and 12-15 cm wide.  Roll the almond mixture (marzipan) into a long sausage shape and place it on the pastry. Wrap the pastry around the mixture and shape it into a circle. Slightly wet the sides and ends and push one end into the other to stick it together.  Place the wreath on a baking tray. Brush with beaten egg. To finish off the decoration, cut out some holly shapes, stars or bells and lay them on the top of the wreath. Place in a hot oven, about 220C, 425F, Mark 7 for about 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool.

When completely cold, warm 4-5 tbsps of apricot jam in a pan until it’s runny.  Spread the jam over the baked wreath.  For a final decoration, you can use glazed cherries and orange peel strips as you wish.

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