I love winter. There is something about the cold weather that makes me want to sit by the fire and write. It’s too cold to venture out to the winter house across the ice-field terrace and arctic lawn, but Mr S has the woodburner blazing. I also love the seasonal food. Slow cooked stews, stroganov with cardamon rice, and most of all the cakes. This is the time of my grandmother’s sugar dusted vanilla crescents, marzipan stollen, gingerbread and the legendary Pffefferkuchen.
Christmas is marked each year by the search for the lost Pfefferkuchen. This is a chewy biscuit made with mixed peel, mixed spice, chopped nuts, sugar and egg whites, which my grandmother and her sisters used to make. Unfortunately, the recipe was recorded in my grandmother’s usual haphazard fashion: ‘chop sufficient nuts and fruit, cook in an oven that’s hot enough, until they’re done.’ No one is left who can remember the precise proportions so every December my mother, sister and I try to make the perfect Pfefferkuchen – ‘less sugar’, ‘just bash the nuts’ – and every year we fail. Inevitably our biscuits don’t rise, the texture is all wrong, and yet our quest for the lost Pfefferkuchen has become a memory in itself. Hmm. I’m getting hungry. I think it’s time for elevenses and perhaps a slice of stollen.
This is the teapot that I really want to pour my tea from. It was made my Polly at Hodder.
And from the back…