In the Mood for Christmas Food: Gluhwein and Gingerbread

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I’ve been visiting Christmas Markets the past few weeks and am enjoying the lebkuchen, plank-roasted salmon, candied fruits, and mulled wine that’s been on offer.  But it’s clear that the mulled wine is the beating heart at the center of these markets. The promise of a warm tipple is what brings many people out to German Christkindlmarkts after the sun has dipped low and cold blankets the town.   Gluhwein stands abound, and the people stand around!


It’s always nice to warm your hands and your spirits with gluhwein–and to come home from the markets with a gluhwein cup in hand.  I’m a fan of the homemade stuff too–a simmering pot on the stovetop makes the house smell great and keeps you warm as you cook or sit around your Christmas tree.   There’s no recipe, per se, that I use, but what I toss in looks something like this:


a bottle of red wine (I prefer dry)

2-3 cinnamon sticks

about 4 whole cloves

a sliced orange

sugar  (maybe 1/2 cup–but this is very subjective, do this according to your taste and the sweetness of the wine you use)

late additions: (if wanted) 1 star anise, a dash of rum, water (up to one cup) if you want to dilute or smooth out the taste

Put your ingredients on the stovetop and simmer for 10-20 minutes.  You may add the rum and star anise in the last 5 minutes.  (Personally, I like just a hint of star anise, that’s why I add it late–otherwise I find it overpowering.)

And, if you want “gluhwein light,” you can cut the wine with some ratio of cranapple juice and sip all holiday long without getting drowsy.

Gingerbread is another favorite at holiday markets.  The Germans have their lebkuchen, and the French have their pain d’epices.   Today, however, I’m bringing you a wickedly good gingerbread recipe from the Brits.

Nigella Lawson’s Guiness Gingerbread recipe is hard to beat. (Of course, you knew this before I told you, because Guinness + gingerbread has to = yummy!)  (That’s the extent of my mathematical proficiency, by the way.) nigella_christmas_cookbook

This gingerbread is at its best when it’s warm–maybe 10 or 15 minutes out of the oven.  The top is moist, the sides are gooey, the full ginger aroma is in play.  Just thinking about it makes me hungry.

I’ll reprint the recipe below, or you can find it at the food network link here   ( )

  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
  • 1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s)
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 rectangular aluminium foil pan or cake pan, approximately 13 by 9 by 2-inches

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat.

Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.


Guten appetit and Merry Christmas!!


2 thoughts on “In the Mood for Christmas Food: Gluhwein and Gingerbread

  1. A couple of Christmases ago we rather incongruously found ourselves drinking gluhwien and eating curry-wurst in the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo.

    At the moment in Bangkok it’s just too hot. But this time next week we’ll be back in the UK and I will be drinking my fair share.


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