A traditional French bûche de Noël always looks just the right side of cutely enchanting, and there is nothing hard to like about its tender, melting chocolatiness. know the recipe looks finicky, and I can’t promise it’s a doddle, but it works easily and you will soon find you are rolling chocolate logs without a care.
Christmas Rocky Road: It’s not that I felt my usual Rocky Road Crunch Bars needed any improvement (though fiddling with recipes is one of life’s pleasures) but I thought they would benefit from some seasonal adjustment. So, out go the Rich Tea biscuits and in come amaretti and – in the seasonal spirit – I’ve crammed in some Brazil nuts and glacé cherries (as red as Rudolph’s nose), along with snowy mini marshmallows.
CHOCOLATE PUDDING FOR CHRISTMAS PUDDING HATERS WITH HOT CHOCOLATE SAUCE Christmas pudding isn’t for everyone and, even though I have faith in my pudding’s ability to convert, there’s no point nagging or, indeed, fighting against real, die-hard antipathies. Besides, I have never met a child who likes Christmas pudding, and it seems unfair not to give a treat to everyone.
SMOOTH HATBOX ICING I love a plain white-iced cake: smooth icing, wrapping the cake almost like a hatbox. I am happy to have this decorated, but I'd just as soon the decorations were also white. I cut out bits of leftover rolled-out icing, using my snowflake or star cookie cutter, and perhaps throw a few silver baubles around, too. But play as you wish: red and green roll-out icing can be used to exuberantly Christmassy effect.
ROCKY ROAD CRUNCH BARS No one is ever going to complain about having one of these in their lunchbox, and they're pretty handy to have around in the kitchen for a quick, snatched burst of energy at any time.
Pizza rustica is not a pizza in the way that we've come to understand it, though anyone who's spent time in Italy might well have come across it. Pizza Rustica: The word pizza simply means pie, and this term denotes a deep, pastry-encased creation.
Blackberry Galette: This is really a free-form pizza-like tart, which I made for the first time while we were doing the photography for How To Be A Domestic Goddess. We happened to have some polenta pastry left over and some spare blackberries in the fridge and I, suddenly rebelling against the planning and rule-following necessary to get all the food photographed, played around. This was the result.