"The very nature of rituals means they also serve to remind us of things that are different from years that have gone before. Of people who are no longer seated around the same table, of fallings-out, of break-ups, of those who have passed away. The season is inescapable, and so we have no choice but to adapt. Make new rituals, or embrace the old ones as best we can."
Moving from eating Christmas pudding poolside in Australia, Kate Young writes about learning to embrace England's snowy skies, long Boxing Days walks and new festive traditions in our midwinter issue. Start one of your own by trying her recipe for pepparkakor, a spiced biscuit that's great to eat with cheese.
Makes at least 60
- 50ml water
- 2tbsp golden syrup
- 80g light brown sugar
- 20g dark brown sugar
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground cloves
- 75g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 220g plain flour
1 Bring the water, syrup, sugars and spices to the boil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Pour them over the butter into a mixing bowl and leave for a few minutes to cool. The butter should have completely melted by this stage.
2 Sieve the bicarbonate of soda and flour into the mixture. Stir to combine and bring together in a dough. Leave the bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours, or preferably overnight.
3 Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Flour your work surface and roll the dough out as thinly as you can – a couple of millimetres thick is about right. Line your baking trays. Cut shapes out of the dough, with cookie cutters of your choice, and arrange them on the tray, leaving a little space for them to spread slightly.
4 Transfer each batch to the oven and bake for five minutes, until slightly crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the tray for five minutes and then completely on the wire rack. The biscuits should be crisp around the edges. Serve plain or with cheese – they’re lovely with Swedish cheese, or good cheddar or Stilton.
Read Kate's piece about changing Christmas traditions in the midwinter issue of Oh Comely, out now.