Christmas has officially started for me with Delia’s Classic Christmas on TV which aired on the first day of December. In a world full of Nigellas and Jamies, however uncool this may sound, I absolutely revelled in Delia’s classic and far more achievable Christmas offering. Maybe it’s the recession, but this year, Delia seems to me to suit the mood of the times perfectly. While Nigella sells us a vision of aspiration and flamboyance, dear old Delia is my kind of down-to-earth.
Now Delia lost her way with her Delia Cheats series, but there she was on Tuesday on our screens, steering us through the minefield of timings and planning in the hectic weeks before Christmas Day; the key, of course, being “to prepare as much as possible in advance”. She showed us the freezer in her shed, packed full of stuffing, and mince pies, and a whole host of Christmas treats.
Delia treated us to such Christmas classics as traditional Christmas pudding and cake, a glossily bronzed turkey with all the trimmings, bread sauce and cranberry and orange relish. My favourite was a gorgeous panettone trifle (recipe below). I’m going to have a Delia Christmas this year, for sure.
75g/2¾oz organic dried apricots, cut into 4
200ml/7fl oz marsala wine
For the custard and topping
5 free-range egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 dessertspoon cornflour
150ml/5fl oz marsala wine
600ml/1 pint 1½fl oz double cream
50g/2oz toasted flaked almonds
Equipment and preparation: A 1.75 litre/3 pints glass bowl.
First of all, put the apricots and raisins in a small saucepan with 150ml/5fl oz of the marsala. Bring up to simmering point, then take off the heat and leave to soak for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the panettone into slices about 2cm/1in thick, then cut these down to about 4cm/1½in pieces and place them in the bowl.
After that strain the cooled soaked fruit over a jug and add enough marsala to make the liquid up to 150ml/5fl oz. Then sprinkle the marsala evenly over the panettone, followed by the fruit. Leave to one side so the panettone can soak up all the juices, and tip the bowl from time to time to make sure there are no little pools of liquid in the bowl.
To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl. Then place 350ml/12¼oz of the cream and the marsala in a saucepan and, over a gentle heat, bring up to simmering point, then, whisking the egg mixture all of the time with one hand, gradually pour the hot cream back into the bowl with the egg mixture. Now quickly pour the whole lot back to the saucepan, using a rubber spatula. Whisk over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble and thicken (don’t worry, it won’t curdle – if it does look at all grainy, it will become smooth again when whisked off the heat).
Let the custard get quite cold then pour it over the fruit and panettone. Then whip the remaining cream to the floppy stage (being careful not to make it too stiff) and spoon it all over the custard. Cover and chill till needed, sprinkling over the toasted almonds just before serving.