Christmas is only a few days away and it’s a time for seeing loved ones, giving gifts, and eating excessively! There’s a lot of comfort and nostalgia around Christmas food. While a summer Christmas doesn’t make me feel particularly festive, the smells and tastes of Christmas food remind me of being back in Good Ol’ Blighty,
With this in mind, I thought it would be good to test a few Christmas essentials for the gluten challenged! I’ll be reviewing some traditional Christmas fayre – mince pies, fruit cake, pudding and chocolates!
When I was little, I remember my mum being a terrible cook. I remember under cooked pasta, burnt toast and lumpy gravy. Despite these culinary catastrophe’s mum does have some tricks up her sleeve – she makes an excellent apple crumble and every Christmas she would whip up great pastry for mince pies! With my Mum living in England, I’ve had to find a substitute that tasted as good as her pastry and is gluten free!
The Woolworths Free from Gluten Fruit Mince Bites are delicious. There are eight of these tiny mince pies in a packet which cost $6, and they are great! The pastry is quite pale but it is sweet and buttery. It’s slightly salty too and it’s very nice. It’s also not too crumbly. The fruit mince is very nice too. It’s filled with raisins and it’s quite sweet but there is also a noticeable citrus flavour.
I tried a couple of other mince pies too in the last few weeks. If you can’t get hold of the Woolies Fruit Mince Bites, the Jon-Jon Bakeries Gluten Free Fruit Mince Bites 8 pack are a good alternative and cost $5 at Coles. The We Love Cake Fruit Mince Pies from Woolies cost $6 and didn’t do much for me at all.
Fruit Cake is one of those things my mum baked on a regular basis when I was little. Sometimes it was burnt but sometimes it was cooked perfectly! As a result of my childhood cake roulette, it took me a long time to be able to enjoy fruit cake and I still only choose to eat it during the holidays. I like a nice piece of fruit cake with a heap of icing on it so that I can barely taste the fruit.
I picked up a packet of the We Love Cake Iced Fruit Cake Slices from Woolies for $6. The cake looked pretty good, it had my required slab of icing and the cake itself was very dark and contained a lot of raisins and sultanas. It was quite moist and it didn’t crumble while I was eating it. The taste wasn’t great though. Despite the icing, there was an underlying burnt flavour which I found nostalgic but not really in a good way!
Almost every year for the last 10 years, my amazing husband has made the Christmas Pudding. This is a long and boring process that requires pulling the sticks out of kilos of
raisins, and ‘feeding’ the fruit mince drops of alcohol over the course of three months! Yes, that’s right – Michael’s Christmas pudding fruit mince starts life in September so that we can all enjoy boozy raisins on December 25th! And it’s well worth it – last year he tinkered with the recipe so that it was gluten free and I could have some of it (obviously drowned in cream and custard).
This year was different though. Raising a one year old and a vat of fruit mince felt a bit too much like hard work so Michael decided to skip the homemade pudding in favour of a premade one. At the Sydney Gluten Free Expo in early August, we sampled some of the puddings at the Itha’s Puddings and Gourmet Foods stall. We were so impressed that we bought a Fig and Pear Christmas Pudding for $48.
This pudding was Michael’s choice and it was yummy which is why we bought it! There are of course, other Christmas puddings out there for coeliacs’. While I’ve been out and about I’ve seen a few places selling the Pudding Lane gluten free puddings for between $40 and $50, as well as small puddings at Woolworths as part of their Free from Gluten range for $8.00.
I’m pretty sure that a huge tin of chocolates is an essential part of every family Christmas. As a child in the UK, I remember the family sitting around and watching the Queen’s speech while munching our way through a tin of Cadbury’s Roses.
Luckily for me this is something I can still recreate in sweaty Australia! Roses are gluten free and can be picked up at the supermarket for between $12 and $15 depending on where your shopping. In the interest of full disclosure, Michael and I ploughed through one tin in about three days but it’s ok because I bought two tins!
Australian Christmas is different to what I had growing up. I love the prawns and pavlova but I do miss the stodgy English stuff! Luckily for me, I can still get most of it here. All that’s left is for me to wish you a gluten free holiday period. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!