Monday, July 2, 2007

Christmas in July

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? In some parts of Australia and New Zealand where Christmas falls in the summer, and July is one of the coldest months, ‘ Christmas in July’ parties are held to mimic the traditional northern Christmas. Some traditional Christmas activities are difficult to have in the December summertime (such as heavy meals with roasted meats and heavy sweets like Sticky Date pudding) so these may be held in July instead.

In the Unites States, ‘Christmas in July’ is known as ‘Holiday in July’ and is an unofficial holiday exploited as a marketing opportunity. Stores have ‘Christmas in July’ sales. Still, some individuals do choose to celebrate the time themselves typically as an intentionally transparent excuse to have a party. Whether you celebrate Christmas in July or in December is not the important issue, what is important is if you actually know the true meaning of Christmas and it’s significance. See here for answers to these questions.

I personally celebrate Christmas in December, but if you were like me, you wouldn’t wait for Christmas to enjoy ‘Christmassy’ desserts! Warm saucy puddings are the way to go especially when you’re experiencing the height (or what feels like..) of winter. My favourite pudding of all time happens to be Stephanie Alexander’s ‘Sticky Date Pudding’ adapted from this book.

I found that baking the pudding in paper muffin cases were less fiddly when it came to serving and it also used less baking time, 15 minutes to be exact. To be on the safe side, though, do the skewer test as oven temperatures vary. For first timers on this blog, I always use Salted Butter in Baking, if this idea seems too strange to comprehend, go ahead and use the unsalted kind, it WILL matter to me, just make sure I don’t find out about it! HA!HA! (I can almost hear my daughters say, “not funny, mom’” as they look at each other, shifting their eyes from side to side) I reduced the sugar content from 170g to 150g for the pudding, as the toffee sauce will make up for it and more. One very important tip is this: leave the chopped dates to soak in the bicarbonate soda and boiling water for at least twenty minutes, this will guarantee a moist pudding. Good Luck!


170g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
300 ml boiling water
60g salted butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
170g Self- Raising Flour
½ tsp pure vanilla extract


400g brown sugar
1 cup thickened cream
250g salted butter
1 vanilla bean, split

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line an 18cm square cake tin. Mix the dates and bicarbonate soda; pour the boiling water over and leave to stand. Cream the butter and sugar till light and pale, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold the flour in gently, and then stir in the date mixture and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

To make the Toffee sauce, bring all the ingredients to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean. Pour a little sauce over the warm pudding and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes for the sauce to soak in. Serve warm with extra sauce and double cream or vanilla ice cream.