Five Classic Holiday Desserts & Their Heritage
IF YOU’RE TOO FULL AFTER THE HOLIDAY FEAST, SAVE THE FRUITCAKE FOR BREAKFAST! NOT NECESSARILY THE NEXT YEAR.
By Pauline Yang
Food naturally brings people together, especially during the holiday season. A dish presents not only the flavor but also the memories, the culture and the history behind it. Many families have had traditions passed down through the years, a special recipe. But over the generations, the roots of a favorite dish is often lost. So where did they originate from? Here’s a look at five of the most popular holiday desserts and their cultural backgrounds.
Fruit cake (Rome)
Perhaps the most infamous holiday dessert is the fruit cake. In America, those made with alcohol have been said to last for generations to come and are frequently seen around the holiday season. Fruit cakes have roots in ancient Rome but soon traveled all over Europe. Through the years recipes have evolved in each country depending on the available ingredients and culture.
Here’s a recipe for chunky dried fruit cake, featuring five kinds of dried fruit and three kinds of nuts:
Log cake or swiss roll or “holiday” roll (France) “Yule log”
One of the most easily recognized dessert associated with the holidays, specifically Christmas, is the yule log cake. This traditional dish, called the Bûche de Noël, originated from France in the 19th century. While the most common combination is a basic yellow sponge cake, filled and coated with a chocolate buttercream, many variations of the traditional recipe have since been created. The yule log cake is often decorated with a coating of powdered sugar to resemble snow, the icing frosted into a bark-like texture and accompanied by fresh berries and mushrooms made out of meringue.
Challenge your baking skills with this recipe for the traditional Bûche de Noël:
TRY DIFFERENT TYPES OF ICING FOR DIFFERENT TEXTURES ON YOUR LOG CAKE.
From gingerbread cookies to gingerbread houses, this sweet treat is another classic holiday dessert. This dessert was first brought to Europe by an Armenian monk. Starting in France, gingerbread traveled to Germany, Sweden, and England and became widely available in the 18th century. Using the main ingredients of ginger root and honey or molasses, gingerbread foods can vary from a soft, moist loaf cake to a ginger biscuit. It has been used to create the beloved gingerbread men and gingerbread houses.
Get creative with your gingerbread this holiday season using this recipe:
DECORATING GINGERBREAD COOKIES INSPIRES CREATIVITY, A PERFECT BONDING ACTIVITY FOR THE FAMILY.
Pumpkin pie (United States)
So which holiday dessert is truly American? As evidenced by the hot trend of pumpkin spiced everything, pumpkin pie is the dish that originated from the United States. The pastry is often eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada. The pumpkin itself is native to the continent of North America but soon became an early export to France and from there it was quickly introduced and accepted into English cookbooks.
Recreate this American tradition in your own kitchen:
TOP OFF A WARM SLICE OF PUMPKIN PIE WITH A DOLLOP OF HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM.
Rice pudding (multicultural)
But one dessert that truly encompasses the spirit of America’s cultural melting pot is rice pudding. It has long been a traditional holiday dish worldwide. Variations of the dish can be found on five out of the seven continents and greatly vary even within a single country. While rice pudding can be prepared in different ways with different ingredients, the most basic choices include: rice, milk, spices, flavorings, sweeteners and eggs.
Whip up your own rice pudding with this super simple recipe:
ENJOY RICE PUDDING WARM OR COLD FOR A COMFORTING SWEET TREAT AFTER ALL THE RICH HOLIDAY DISHES.