December Reflections 23: new recipe

the crumbling end of a fruited bread

There was marzipan left over after icing the Christmas cake, so, for the first time in my life, I made stollen. I used Delia Smith’s recipe, ignoring a couple of the fussier fruit ingredients. I stretched the dough further than it strictly needed to go, and it didn’t rise properly, but it’s really quite tasty. I’ve been eating it for breakfast ever since. (I’m the only one who likes marzipan, so…)

I was looking back at something I wrote earlier in the year in which I claimed that lockdown had, if anything, made me more adventurous in my cooking. From this distance all I can remember is fritters made from tinned sweetcorn. Which weren’t bad, I admit, but if I tried any other new recipes in the first half of the year I couldn’t tell you what they were.

Then things started fruiting. I dealt with a lot of the harvest using methods and recipes that live in my head (freezing; crumbles; freezing; chutneys…), but pickled plums were a new one on me. They turn out to be delicious: sweet-sour, with a delicate, almost floral, flavour underlying the vinegar.

After we’d been in this house for a few months the oven developed an irritating habit of blowing its fuse at unpredictable intervals. It went when I was cooking chocolate puddings; when I was preserving pears; when Tony was cooking sausages; other times I now forget. We weren’t completely deprived of oven in between visits from the electrician and the Samsung specialist (they disagreed what needed to be done to fix it), since our microwave also has an oven function, but it did make me a bit wary of baking. I made a courgette cake in it, but that’s about as far as it went.

Eventually the Samsung specialist tracked down the problem, replaced the offending component, and fixed the oven. (This is probably not a wise thing to type two days before Christmas, but there we go.) Since then I’ve made mince pies. (Shortcrust pastry, which is another thing I don’t need to look up, and mincemeat from a very elderly jar.) And stollen.