• 2022.01.20
  • Holiday desserts by Gian
This year I participated at a Christmas lunch with my girlfriend and her family and we had the roasted ham, the veggie casserole and all the typical Christmas goodies including the most typical mince pies and Christmas pudding.
They explained to me it's not Christmas in London without the evergreen Christmas pudding and the crunchy mince pies, the fruity version of the meat mince pie eaten all year round.

The fruity mince pies are typical English tarts traditionally prepared during the Christmas period.
Their characteristics are mainly two: the very crumbly shell made with a dough similar to that of shortcrust pastry and the rich filling with apples, candied fruit, dried fruit and spices.
The mince pies have their roots in the Middle Ages it seems, but some people say the recipe came from France and it’s not originally English.
In the Middle Ages, however, they were made only in their savoury version with minced meat, but always enriched with dried, fresh fruit and spices.
There is a romantic tradition linked to this dessert which says that this is the very favourite sweet of Santa Claus so many children leave a mince pie under their Christmas tree for Santa on Christmas eve night.
Another tradition linked to these small pies is that which recommends mixing the filling always in a clockwise direction and doing otherwise would attract bad luck for the following year.
Their preparation involves three phases and is quite laborious: the mixture of mince pies can be based on a custard cream filling or a filling made with dried fruit and enriched with brandy and butter (for adults).
The tartlets can be enjoyed at any time of the day but they are ideal for enriching a breakfast based on coffee with milk or tea if there are any left after the Christmas meal or at tea time.

The Christmas pudding too represents the tasty side of the English tradition and it is truly distinctive.
Made with eggs, almonds, candied fruit, rum and spices, Christmas pudding is usually embellished with a holly, and served flambéed.
It is a dessert that needs a long cooking time in the oven and once ready, according to the tradition of each family, it will be served cut into slices and accompanied with a cream that can be custard or buttercream with a liqueur.
Another feature of Christmas pudding is that it has a very long shelf life so if you buy one instead of making it yourself, you’ll be able to keep it for a long time.
It is also sometimes called plum pudding although prunes are not part of the recipe.
In fact, this strange definition derives from the fact that, in the seventeenth century, the term plum also indicated raisins and other types of dried fruit.
It seems that historically Puritans worked hard to abolish it but, despite this, the Christmas pudding survived adversity, becoming a staple food for the holidays in the 19th century.
The Christmas pudding is even mentioned in Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol and everyone knows it.
As time went by, the Christmas pudding was also perfected, with more and more ingredients.
It is so embedded into British pop culture that this unique dessert also retains several superstitions about its preparation: for example, it must absolutely not contain more or less than 13 ingredients not 13, must be prepared by all members of the family together and it must be stirred turning the ladle clockwise.
Another legend has it that, if you don't eat even a small piece of pudding during Christmas, you will lose a friend the following year.

mince pies


  • GianFranco Belloli
  • Jobblogger/musician

I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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