Festive food — and plenty of it — is an essential part of any holiday tradition. Nigella Lawson covers this in her new cookbook, “Nigella Christmas.” Here, she offers recipes for soft, downy pumpkin pancakes and a “spruced-up” vanilla cake.
For the pumpkin pancakes
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (see margin note below)
- 1 15-oz can pumpkin purée (or 2 cups homemade)
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For the sticky maple pecans
- 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups pecans
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for pouring over pancakes
Pumpkin pancakesWhisk together the eggs and buttermilk until frothy, then add the pumpkin puree and whisk again.Beat in the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisking until you have a smooth batter. Or just put everything into the blender, together, and liquidize.Heat a heavy-based skillet or flat griddle, and pour in the oil. Wipe away any excess with kitchen paper, taking care not to burn your fingers, so that the pen is very lightly oiled. Any more than that, the pancakes will burn.Using a 1/4-cup measure, pour small amounts of batter into the pan or onto the hot griddle, gently coaxing them into 3-inch-diameter circles.When bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, flip them over. (You’ll have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your skillet or griddle. I get 4-5 on my griddle comfortably at any one time.)Cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then transfer them to a plate, and keep warm with a layer of aluminum foil over the pancakes.This amount of batter does make a lot, but the pancakes are not very big, and will keep well under the foil until you have finished making all of them. And they’re so good for when you’ve got people staying that it seems a pity to make fewer (and you can always freeze any leftover pancakes).Sticky maple pecansToast the pecans in a large, hot, dry frying pan.When the pecans are warm and smelling nutty, spoon the maple syrup over, stir to coat them and keep sauteing them in the pan until they are stickily, glossily coated.Take the pan off the heat, and as you serve the pancakes, sprinkle each plate with a few sticky pecans and pour some maple syrup over the top.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) soft butter, plus more for greasing (or use non-stick baking spray such as Pam)
- 6 eggs
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put a cookie sheet in at the same time. Butter or spray your large, regular or fir-tree shaped bundt pan very, very thoroughly. Either put all the ingredients except the confectioners’ sugar into the processor and blitz together; or mix by hand or in a free-standing mixer as follows: Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the baking soda, yogurt and vanilla extract.Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased pan and spread about evenly.Place the pan on the preheated cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a cake tester into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes.Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the pan with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best.Once cool, dust with the confectioners’ sugar pushed through a small tea strainer, to decorate: Think fresh snowfall on the Alps.
- 4 cups mango cubes (I buy containers of ready-diced mango, totaling 1 3/4 lbs in weight, but if you’re using whole mango, you’d probably need 3 large or 4-5 small ones)
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds (I buy pomegranate seeds in containers, you need 5 oz in weight; otherwise, we’re probably talking 2-3 pomegranates here.)
- 4 teaspoons lime juice
Put the mango cubes into a bowl and tumble the blueberries and pomegranate seeds in after them.Squeeze the lime juice over the fruit, mix everything together gently, and taste to see if you want to add more lime juice before serving.
Tip: If you’re using a whole mango, to dice, stand the mango on its end in front of you and, using a sharp knife, score vertically through the skin all round. It should then be easy to peel off the skin from one half. Now, cut through the peeled half of the mango, right to the pit, in lines down, about 1/2 inch apart; do the same across. Then, take your knife and press it down, sliding it right against the pit so you feel it scrape the pit, thus letting the dice you’ve scored through tumble out. Do the same — messily — with the other side. If I can do this, it really doesn’t require any great dexterity, trust me.
From “Nigella Christmas” by Nigella Lawson. Copyright (c) Nigella Lawson 2008, 2009. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.