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.



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.

Feed Your E-Reader: New Releases Today, Hot Off the Press!


available in digital and print!

Best-selling Australian author Jennie Jones takes us back to Swallow’s Fall for one more story: Gemma has a burning need to stay and make a home. All Josh has ever wanted is to get out. Now he has the chance, and all he needs to do is tie up a few loose ends…


For centuries, fragrant orchids have made potent love potions, but in a world of technology, can they still wield their power? From the fresh voice of Eliza Redgold…


She’s at risk of drowning in more ways than one – and he’s the last person she expects to pull her out of the water.

Inspiration Behind the Story: Louise Forster

Inspiration for Finding Elizabeth.

8879A friend took us to a ballet performance, and while sitting in the middle somewhere up in dress circle, I wondered how many guys to my left, right and below in the stalls, were enjoying Giselle, or how many would rather be watching footy.

Then I wondered, was I guilty of holding a prejudiced view against men? Not good and not fair. But I kept going: were some here to please a girlfriend? Was there a hot guy watching one of the dancers – let’s say the starring ballerina – and did he want to meet her?

This led to other questions. Was the hot guy visiting from out of state, another country, was he just out of prison, or did he finally surface from a coma to be dazzled by a dancer wearing a red frou-frou thing?

Pretty soon my ideas were spinning out of control. The concert-hall, the people, posters, sights, and sounds inspired me to write about a ballet dancer.

tumblr_lk79669Tya1qgxwpyWhile researching, I discovered the kinds of injuries they would have to deal with. I made life harder on my ballerina and gave her hyperextension, which can be an asset, because their legs can flex more and give the dancer, in some positions, extraordinary beautiful lines. But if a dancer had to deal with hyperextension, would it shorten her career?

To give my romance even more atmosphere, I set my story in Canada during their snowy, freezing Christmas and put the Australian hero there, straight out of a hot Australian summer. Instead of Giselle I chose The Fire Bird where my heroine has to perform a very lively dance.

There’s nothing better than torturing your characters to get the best out of them!

21188Louise’s next book is set much closer to home. Check out Home Truths, available this month!

London-based chef Jennifer Dove loves her exciting, fast-paced life and she has every intention of returning to it ASAP. This trip to Tumble Creek — middle-of-nowhere Australia — is just a blip, a trip out of time, to visit her sister and niece and farewell her beloved Uncle.

But much as she tries not to, Jennifer is sucked in to the small town and the mystery surrounding her uncle. Who is his girlfriend Veronica, and why is she not here? What are the locals hiding? And why can she not get sexy local Calum McGregor out of her mind?

All is not what it seems in this sleepy, small town, and as Jennifer unravels its mysteries, she might just be tying herself to Tumble Creek forever.


Newly sprung in June…

We have packed June full of amazing titles this year. Glory in the bounty!

21183For fans of Bronwyn Parry – whoever said small towns have no secrets didn’t know about this one…

A breakthrough rural romantic suspense novel from Sarah Barrie, about a country girl doing it tough, an undercover cop on the case of his career, and the sad fact that no good deed goes unpunished.

21184Heroes meets Bridget Jones in this brilliant, hilarious, debut novel about a girl who just wants to save the world…

We are thrilled to welcome Auralee Wallace to the Escape Artists with this fantastic mash-up of New Adult romance and comic books, about a girl trying to find her way in the world, a journalist looking for a break, and the mysterious superhero who just wants to be left alone.

21185In the world of Regency England, only one thing matters — the begetting of an heir…

The third in this exciting, sensual, surprising, unique series of historical romance novellas, about what goes on behind closed regency doors.

21186His search for her has been timeless, eternal, and ultimately thwarted. Until now…

A new paranormal romance from Jennifer Brassel mixes action, adventure, eternal curses, soul mates, and art. How can she walk away from the man whose face has haunted her canvasses and her dreams?

21187Job satisfaction has never been this good…

Alexis Fleming proves that workplace romances can be just the thing for a little stress relief, and a lot of fun, when a historical restorations expert meets an uptight banker. Nude paintings, blackmail, and mind-numbing sexual frustration…will either of them survive this project?

21188A small-town romance about secrets, community, and the family we make for ourselves.

This is our second novel from Louise Forster, and she takes a decidedly rural turn in this sweet contemporary romance about a big city girl who goes home to mourn her uncle and get questions answered, only to find that the answers (and the local tradies!) are nothing like she expected.

21189She can buy anything she wants, except the courage to stand up to her family. That’s where he comes in. 

A beautiful coastal romance set in the same world as It’s Love, Dude, about a billionaire Cinderella with a singular need: an ’emotional’ bodyguard to help her manage her family. How can a hero resist?


Chill Out

As Australia swelters under a heat wave, may we humbly offer some refreshingly cool stories to help while away the time as you huddle in front of the air conditioner with the curtains drawn and the lights off?

19909Jane O’Reilly’s The Holiday Survival Guide features winter camping. That’s right – there’s snow, there’s a tent, there’s even potential frost bite.

19723Sure, it may be a little out-of-season, but is that any reason to turn down One Sweet Christmas from Darlene Fredette, a story about a snowy small town with ski hills?

8879Our Canadian hero in this sweet story teaches our Australian hero how to ice skate during a snowy Calgary winter – Finding Elizabeth from Louise Forster.

19729Nothing like some ice vampires to chill your blood! Ros Baxter’s White Christmas.

18615A snowball fight plays a crucial scene in Not Your Average Joe, a Cinderella-style romance from Nell Carson.

9505And, finally, last but not least, One Hot Winter’s Night from Serenity Woods features an ice hotel. Think about that, while trying to sleep tonight, when even the linen seems to be a heat source!


What’s your favourite ‘cool’ story? We’d love to hear any and all suggestions. *wipes sweaty brows*