Growing up in the UK, my childhood Christmases were always – with one glorious snowy exception – spent indoors. With a focus around colour and abundance to ward off howling winds and darkening grey skies outside, it was the season of spice, of warming heat, of bright pops of colour on the tree and in our meals. But then we moved to Australia, and nothing about Christmas was ever the same.
It took us ages to adapt.
These days, I haven’t so much thrown out tradition as created new traditions of my own. Christmas is a decidedly relaxed affair – instead of spending hours in a hot kitchen over a roast no-one has an appetite for in mid-summer, we graze on seafood and salads. Long gone as well, is the Christmas Pud. For while I adore it, there are other desserts that are way more popular, including this Persian Love Cake, paired here with a trans-formative strawberry and rosewater ice cream.
Packed full of pistachios, almonds and Christmas spices, this is a much lighter take on a Christmas pudding. It’s a ridiculously easy to make one bowl wonder and can be made well ahead of the big event. It’s such a lovely – and gluten-free – cake reminiscent of baklava, that it prompted me to make this ice cream, based around another old love of mine – Turkish delight, also a Christmas fave – and it is such a spectacular addition that I always have to give the recipe to those who try it.
For if I tell you dear reader that people routinely drive across town to sit at my table and eat it, then you know it will be a hit with the people who are now gathering around your table. And isn’t that what tradition is all about?