Christmas Cooking Part 1: Our Food Stories Laura and Nora

Gather ’round people for the first in an exciting new three part series. A special festive treat from me to you, over the coming December weekends three amazingly talented cooks will share a special Christmas recipe and talk about everything from tips on getting ahead to how to make your table look beautiful.

First up I chatted to Berlin based super bloggers Laura Muthesius and Nora Eisermann of Our Food Stories to ask them about Christmas in their house.

If you’re wondering what’s with the super blogger bit let me explain. The pair garner the sort of adoration and attention that A-listers command and with 1 million Instagram followers (yes you heard that right), have become something of a phenomenon in the food photography and styling world.

Interestingly neither intended to break into this industry. It happened rather by accident when Laura was sick with food allergies and the pair decided to document their gluten free cooking. They weren’t satisfied with the bland recipes they found and thought they had something different to offer. They weren’t wrong. It helped too that Nora had an eye for beautiful things having trained in fashion design and Laura was a photographer.

It’s not difficult to see why their work has caught the imagination of so many, including myself. Not only is the food inspiring but the world they have created to showcase it is completely dream-like.

Inspired by nature and their rural studio in Germany (they have a Berlin base too having been born and raised in the city) their images are painterly, evocative and celebrate the simplicity of natural materials. You just want to step into each picture and sit at their table.

So I’ve done the next best thing, virtually invite them around my kitchen table to tell me all about what they’re cooking this Christmas.

Talk me through Christmas day in your house. When and what is everyone eating?
As our families live in Berlin as well, we always spend Christmas together. We start the day in the afternoon with coffee and cake at Nora’s parents. Nora bakes a gluten-free bundt cake with Christmas spices and raisins and Nora’s parents prepare a cake too. Then we hand over some small gifts and in the evening we drive to Laura’s grandfather and have a Christmas dinner with her family. As Laura is a vegetarian, we always bring some food as well. Last year we made a winter salad with red cabbage and a gluten-free pumpkin quiche and everyone else eats the traditional German Christmas food – goose with dumplings and red cabbage. The fun part about this dinner is that everyone used to think that Laura’s father cooked the whole dinner by himself, but actually he always orders it at a good restaurant 🙂 The dessert is our part and we love to make something different every year. Our favourites have been this Christmas pavlova and this Christmas panna cotta.

Are there any Christmas traditions that you like to celebrate that are peculiar to Germany?
The only tradition that we really follow each year is to have an advent wreath. This year we bought typical German Christmas stars for the first time.

What are your favourite three interiors items that make your table or kitchen beautiful?
We love vintage glasses on the table, also linen napkins and vintage candle holders for a cozy Christmas mood.

Do you have any tips for getting ahead at Christmas?
We always plan a little trip right after Christmas to calm down. Especially the last months of the year are always filled with a lot of extra work, so we really look forward to some cozy days.

Why have you chosen this recipe for Minford readers?
It’s very traditional in Germany to eat a cake that is called “Stollen” for Christmas. It’s made of a buttery yeast dough, rum infused raisins and candied lemon and orange peel. As it’s quite difficult to make a gluten-free version of this cake we have transformed it into a gluten-free bundt cake. We hope you will enjoy it too!

Gluten-free Christmas -“Stollen”-Bundt Cake (yeast free and alcohol free)
Ingredients (for a large bundt pan)

300g butter, soft
275g sugar
350g white rice flour
100g ground almonds
5 eggs (size m/l)
1 pack. organic baking powder
60ml milk (4 tbsp)
2 vanilla beans (or 1)
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cardamom
200g sultanas
400ml apple juice, naturally cloudy
100g candied lemon peel (in Germany is already cut in tiny cubes)

confectioners sugar
a bit butter (so the confectioners sugar can stick easier to the cake)
pink pepper (optional)
candied orange slices (here the link to a recipe with candied lemon slices: parsnip-lemon-cake)

Let the sultanas infuse in the apple juice for 6 hours – for the best results use a jar, then you can shake it every 30-60min (if you have the time), so all the sultanas are evenly infused. Afterwards sieve them. Preheat your oven to 180°C top/bottom heat. Butter and flour your bundt pan thoroughly (the best way is to spread melted butter on the inner side with a baking brush) and leave the bundt pan in the fridge until you’ve finished the batter. Beat soft butter, salt and vanilla pulp for minimum 5 min, then beat in the eggs one after the other (beat each egg in about 30 seconds). Blend in the organic baking powder, rice flour and cardamom, then stir in 2 portions (now use the dough hook). Stir in milk and ground almonds. in the end fold in the candied lemon and orange peel and sultanas. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 60min. Let the bundt cake cool down for 10min before you remove the bundt pan carefully, then let it cool down again on a cooling rack. Melt a bit of butter and spread generously on the outer side of the bundt cake, then sift plenty of confectioners sugar on top. Arrange some candied orange halves and sprinkle some pink pepper.

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