Holiday Desserts & Puddings

 
Cakes, pies, tarts, ice cream, gingerbread ... for guilt free indulgence, browse a delicious menu of dances, all named for desserts and puddings.

Selected Dances

(click for more food history and folkore and background information)

A Piece of Cake

Cheesecake Day

Fond of cheesecake? Do you prefer New York Style, Pennsylvania Dutch Style, Country Style (Buttermilk), or the mid-century modern flavours of the Unbaked Cheesecake? Some people, though they may like both cheese and cake, are repulsed by the dessert solely because its name inspires a revulsion from strong mental associations with the two separate foods in combination. These individuals are clearly the exception as cheesecake has been loved for centuries - so much so that the term "cheesecake," in connection with a beautiful woman has origins back to 1660! Verse published in 1662, after the death of Oliver Cromwell (whom it is supposed, did not care for such desserts), in Poems and Songs Relating to the Late Times, was used to regret the occasion of Cromwell driving certain ladies (of questionable repute) out of the town: "But ah! It goes against our hearts, To lose our cheesecake and our tarts." 🍰

A Piece of Cake

Ashbourne Gingerbread

Gingerbread House Day

The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s, most likely as a result of the wider publication of the Grimm's fairy tales, with the description of the witch's edible sugar and bread house in the folk tale of Hansel & Gretel. Gingerbread making, however, goes back centuries and is specialized and highly prized art.  In the 17th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were permitted to bake it (except at Christmas and Easter, when such restrictions were relaxed).

Ashbourne Gingerbread

Doughnuts Reel

Doughnut Day

Do you dunk your doughnuts? Doughnuts have a disputed origin with several countries as claimants for being the first to note this delicious treat. One of the earliest known recorded usage of the term in literature dates to American author Washington Irving's "History of New York" in which he described "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks." By the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair - which was billed as "A Century of Progress" - doughnuts, now with the characteristic hole, were given the lofty title of "Hit Food of the Century of Progress," because they were fresh and the automated machines made them quickly. They could be cheaply produced and became a staple of the working class during the Depression.

Doughnuts Reel

Jelly Roll

Pastry Day

A Jelly Roll (or Swiss Roll) is a sponge cake filled with cream, jam or icing. In the UK, a similarly inspired dessert, Jam Roly-Poly, is made with a flat-rolled suet pudding rather than cake, then filled with jam and served hot with custard.  For added naming whimsy, this dessert is also called Shirt-Sleeve pudding, DeCleats' Arm, Dead Man's Arm or Dead Man's Leg!  Pastry, cake, puddings, it's all good! Recipe Included: Pistachio Roulade with Raspberries and White Chocolate

Jelly Roll

Mintcake

Crème de Menthe Day

Crème de menthe (mint cream), is the bright green mint liqueur which derives its flavor from Corsican mint. In literature, crème de menthe has a famous devotee in the character of Agatha Christie's fastidious Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, who favours liqueurs in general, and crème de menthe in particular. The composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, although otherwise a teetotaler, found that a glass of crème de menthe steadied his nerves when playing his own technically demanding piano score in the twenty-fourth variation of his "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Because of this, he nicknamed this variation the "Crème de Menthe Variation." Used in cocktails and many desserts, mint pairs naturally with chocolate and appears in many regional favourite candy mintcakes such as: Kendal Mint Cake, Andes Mints, Junior Mints, York Peppermint Patties, and After Eight Mint Chocolate Thins to name a few. Mintcake was even taken up Everest in 1953 when Edmund Hilary ascended it, as well as by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctic expedition of 1914-17!

Mintcake

Putting the Cherry on the Cake

Black Forest Cake Day

Besides the famous Black Forest Cake ( the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, with cherries on top and in the middle) there are other classic cherry deserts - British Cherry Cake (with cherries throughout), Cherries Jubilee (with cherries on fire), and Cherpumple, a British novelty dish in which several different flavor pies are baked inside of several different flavors of cake and stacked together! In a Cherpumple, the apple pie is baked in spice cake, the pumpkin in yellow cake, and the cherry in white cake! Goodness gracious! Recipe link included.

Putting the Cherry on the Cake

Strawberry Fool

April Fool's Day

Fooled you! The classic puree of fruit and custard, the fruit fool (whether it be strawberry, gooseberry, raspberry, rhubarb, or blackberry) has nothing in particular to do with April Fool's Day! And although food historians do not agree on the origin of its name, fool/foole is first mentioned as a dessert in 1598 with recipes beginning to appear in cookery books by the mid 17th century. There are even two classic fruitless fools dating from the 17th and 18th centuries - the Norfolk Fool and the Westminster Fool (which have the addition of cake, similar to trifles, with and without the addition of sack sherry). Regardless of ingredients, these are fools to suffer gladly. Be a dancing fool today! Recipes included!

Strawberry Fool

The Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Decorating Day

Folk tales of runaway food type are found in Germany, the British Isles, Eastern Europe, as well the United States. Similar tales include "The Runaway Pancake" from Germany and Scandinavia, "The Roule Galette" from France, and "The Wee Bannock" from Scotland. In Hungary,  the tale "The Little Dumpling," contrary to the title, refers not to a dumpling, but to the Hungarian version of runaway head cheese! ​ Recipe included: Gingerbread Shortbread with a Nutmeg Glaze

The Gingerbread Man

Walnut Cake with Chocolate Spread

Chocolate Cake Day

Walnut Cake with Chocolate Spread

Anna's Wedding Cake

Cake Day

“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” or “Let them eat cake!” is perhaps the most famous quote about cake ever, attributed (most likely falsely) to Marie Antoinette herself, which she supposedly uttered upon being informed that the peasants were so poor that they had no bread to eat during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband, Louis XVI.

Anna's Wedding Cake

Cookie Shine

Cookie Day

A Cookie Shine is a cookie-sharing party! In most English-speaking countries except for the US and Canada, crisp cookies are called biscuits (or digestive biscuits), though chewier biscuits may also be referred to as cookies.  In Scotland the term cookie may also sometimes used to describe a plain bun.  The word "cookie" derives from the Dutch word "koekje" or more  its informal, dialect variant "koekie" which means "little cake," and arrived in American English with the Dutch settlement of New Netherland, in the early 1600s. In other cookie controversy, "to dunk or not to dunk" is a custom rife with social controversy - a cookie's ability to hold liquid before crumbling is even studied by physicists! 🍪🍪🍪

Cookie Shine

Golden Eccles Cakes

Cake Day

There are few cakes that carry a warning with them, but Eccles Cakes are one of them! Eccles Cakes recently received notoriety for several incidents involving fires resulting from heating them in the microwave. The prevailing theory is that the Demerara sugar used for decoration heats and ignites! Be careful out there!

Golden Eccles Cakes

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie Day

Unlike apple pie (the first recipe of which hails from Chaucer-era England) , Key Lime Pie is a uniquely American dessert. This pie is considered the official pie of the Florida Key (although ironically, the majority of Key Lime trees introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s were wiped out during the hurricane of 1926 and replaced by Persian Limes)! At any rate, recipes for Key Lime Pie were not recorded until the 1930s. At this time, fresh milk, refrigeration, and ice where not available in the Keys until the arrival of tank trucks with the opening of the Overseas Highway in 1930. Because of this lack of milk, local cooks relied on canned sweetened condensed milk, a key ingredient which makes this pie so smooth and delicious. Recipe included: Key Lime Bars!

Key Lime Pie

Peter Hastings' Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse Day

Alexandre Viard, chef to Louis XVI and Napoleon, first described this dessert, later referred to as "mousse au chocolat" in the 1820 edition of his culinary encyclopedia, Le Cuisinier Royal. But the popularity of this tasty chocolate dessert really began to surge when the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), who was also known for his culinary skills, came up with a recipe he first named “mayonnaise au chocolat.” Peter Hastings' actual recipe included!

Peter Hastings' Chocolate Mousse

Shake the Pudding Down

Figgy & Plum Pudding Day

The sweet plum and figgy puddings of Christmas hail from meatier dishes, and interestingly, rarely contained actual plums or figs! In 14th century Britain, beef and mutton were mixed with raisins and prunes, wines and spices as a soup-like dish. When grains were added to make it a thicker porridge, it was known as “frumenty.” For early preparation for Christmas meals in Elizabethan times, raisins, currants, and prunes (which had come into vogue) were added to the mix and stored like huge sausages in animal stomachs and intestines to be served months during the holidays. By this time, the terms "plum" became a term for all dried fruits, with "figgy" being a synonym for raisins as well.

Shake the Pudding Down

The Candy Cane Reel

St. Nicholas' Day

The candy cane allegedly owes Its distinctive shape to a 17th century German choirmaster, who bent the a hard candy into the form of a shepherd’s staff and gave it to children to symbolize the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  As shepherd of his people and patron saint of children, images of St. Nicholas often include a hook-shaped staff called a crozier. Traditional treats for the Feast of St. Nicholas include apples, oranges, nuts, candy canes, and St. Nicholas cookies, a popular holiday spiced cookie with similar flavors to gingerbread but without the molasses.

The Candy Cane Reel

The Nut Loaf

Nutting Day

The Nut Loaf

Walnut Pie

Pie Day

The word "walnut" comes from the old English “walh-hnuts,” meaning foreign nut.  Today this species is generally referred to as the English walnut.  The black walnut, native to North America, does not have as pleasant a taste when eaten raw and is more bitter.  However, it does retains more of its flavor when cooked.  Early English settlers in the American Colonies had to depend on the native black walnut because imported English walnut trees did not adapt easily. On the west coast of the US, however, the Franciscan fathers also brought walnut trees to California in the early 1700s from Mexico.  Through their efforts, walnut trees were planted in the courtyards of the California missions, where they flourished.  The Grizzly Bear pie, a walnut pie variation made with with walnuts and honey, is a delicious nod to California's historic roots.

Walnut Pie

Archie's Clootie Dumpling

Figgy & Plum Pudding Day

A "Clootie/Cloutie Dumpling" is the Scottish version of a Christmas pudding. Firstly and most importantly, it is a pudding boiled in a "clout," a cloth.  Although flour, suet, dried fruit and spices always feature, regional variations, like the addition of treacle, feature in Fife and other areas. Like all traditional puddings, clootie dumplings come with their own set of traditions. When it's being made everyone should give it a good skelp – or smack – to make sure it has a nice round shape!

Archie's Clootie Dumpling

Cranberry Tart

Thanksgiving Day (Canada)

Cranberries were a staple for Native Americans, who harvested wild cranberries and used them in a variety of remedies, drinks, and foods, including pemmican, a combination paste of dried berries, meats, and fats. Sailors used cranberries as a source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. During World War II, American troops required about one million kilograms of dehydrated cranberries a year!

Cranberry Tart

Helen's Shortbread

Shortbread Day

Many have a traditional family or favorite shortbread recipe with classic ingredients that never fail to please. Interesting artisan recipes may include chai, rosemary, lemon, chocolate, etc ... , expected flavours compatible with a sweet biscuit. However, one of the more surprising shortbread trends is adding the flavour of Katsuobushi, a smoked, aged and dried skipjack tuna, which gives an unusual umami character.Many have a traditional family or favorite shortbread recipe with classic ingredients that never fail to please. Modern artisan recipes may include trendy flavors of chai, rosemary, lemon, or chocolate, flavours compatible with a sweet biscuit. However, one of the more surprising shortbread trends is adding the flavour of Katsuobushi, a smoked, aged and dried skipjack tuna, for an unusual umami character!

Helen's Shortbread

Land of the Golden Oatcake

World Baking Day

Land of the Golden Oatcake

Petticoat Tails

Shortbread Day

Shortbread was an expensive luxury in times past and for ordinary people, usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year celebrations. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home! Although shortbread fingers and petticoat tails are the most common baking shapes, Walker's Shortbread, one of the most easily recognizable brands, sometimes creates special edition shapes, such as camels!

Petticoat Tails

Shortbread Fingers

Shortbread Day

Regardless of shape, some traditional Scottish variations on shortbread are Pitcaithly Bannock (made with almonds, caraway seeds, crystallized orange) and Yetholm Bannock (which includes chopped ginger)!

Shortbread Fingers

The Fruitcake

Stir-up Sunday

Stir-up Sunday is a traditional Sunday before Advent in which holiday baking is begun, particularly for plum puddings or soused fruitcakes. Love them or hate them, when a fruitcake contains a good deal of alcohol, it can remain edible for many years. A fruitcake baked in 1878 was kept as an heirloom by a family from Tecumseh, Michigan, and sampled by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show in 2003. Another more recent archaeological find of the fruitcake kind was a 106-year-old fruitcake discovered in 2017 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust described as in "excellent condition" and "almost" edible.

The Fruitcake

The Rocky Road Reel

Rocky Road Day

With many origin stories, Rocky Road ice cream in the United States allegedly got its name from the 1929 stock market crash! In 1906, William Dreyer came to the U.S. from Germany and eventually moved to California to learn the art of making ice cream. In 1921, he opened an ice cream shop in Visalia, California and by 1929, had teamed up with Joseph Edy, a candy maker, to start a combined company in Oakland, California. Dreyer reportedly used his wife’s sewing scissors to cut up pieces of marshmallow and walnuts, then added them to chocolate ice cream. Eventually replacing the walnuts with almonds, they dubbed the new flavour "Rocky Road" alluding to the October 1929 stock market crash’s tumultuous effect on the economy! Two scoops!

The Rocky Road Reel

Desserts & Holiday Pudding Dance Index

(click for dance description or cribs)

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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