Gingerbread houses, plum puddings, white Christmas and fruit tarts, food and tradition go hand-in-hand when it comes to Christmas baking treats at Cakes by Judy C’s Ashgrove store.
If your childhood memories include lining up to stir the Christmas cake mixture, flaming the Christmas pudding or making rum balls, you’ll love the sort of Christmas baking treats that Judy Cook makes at her Ashgrove kitchen shop.
I first met Judy seven years ago while searching for the perfect cupcake. I found it at Judy’s and she still makes ‘Essence of Christmas’ with a touch of chai in the icing, today.
Overtaken by macarons, whoopie cakes and more, cupcakes are no longer the hottest sellers in town but Judy has diversified into a wonder range of goodies made with the same quality of ingredients you would use in your own kitchen. With a deft touch, she has updated and tweaked numerous recipes to create a stable of favourites that people wait for year round.
“We still make cupcakes but now they have surprise centres like our caramel bomb or peach melba,” says Judy. “I find the classic 1950s style recipes really work well for me with a little adaptation.”
When it comes to Christmas baking treats, amongst the most popular items are the just-a-perfect-mouthful fruit mince tarts topped with a star. The recipe includes a dollop of Paul Grainger’s wonderful boysenberry jam.
“I found the recipe for the sugar plums while flicking through a magazine at the hairdresser,” says Judy. “We use real chocolate and a touch of Galliano.”
The plum pudding recipe has a much longer provenance. Judy uses her Great Nana’s recipe which is now 136 years old.
“They used to hang the puddings under the grape vine to mature. I marinate the fruit for two months and then let it hang for a month before cooking again. I like to flame the pudding with cognac, vodka or brandy and it’s important to put the alcohol into a hot water bath to warm it up before flaming for the best results.
I popped into see Judy for this interview and managed to work my way through a fruit mince tart, mini cupcake, gingerbread man and sugar plum. All totally delicious but you’ll only find them now. It’s no good going into her shop and asking for sugar plums and rum balls in May, these treats along with Christmas cakes and puddings and individual fruit mince tarts are only available for the festive season. It’s a good thing too, otherwise I would be lining up for them once a month and spoiling my taste buds for their Christmas treat.
You can find Cakes by Judy C on Waterworks Road at Ashgrove, open Monday to Friday 7.30am till 5pm and Saturdays from 8am to 3pm. Pop in for one of her Christmas high teas!