Get your festive bake on

12 min read


Want something different to traditional fruit cake this Christmas? Try one of these contemporary bakes from Juliet Sear instead

I absolutely adore Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year and a great time for fun baking projects. The festive period, with all its glitz and celebration, offers the perfect excuse to play with decoration and make bakes extra special.

I usually make mince pies or a massive batch of what I like to call my ‘world’s best Christmas fruit cake’, which I hand out to friends and family. But I also like being playful with my bakes, which is why the mint chocolate penguin fault-line cake is possibly my favourite, and great to make with kids with a bit of planning. If you want a subtle showstopper, the cinnamon-spiced tahini cake is a great choice, too – stylish and subtly Christmassy but still achievable.

But whatever you go for, make your life easier and always aim to get ahead. If you get things done in advance, it will save you rushing around on the big day. Back when I baked for Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols, I’d start as early as April, but the beginning of November is more than early enough at home. The bakes that follow can easily be broken up by doing the buttercream in advance, or baking ahead of time – the white choc chip brownie Christmas tree keeps especially well (plus the offcuts can be packaged up as a tasty treat).

At this time of year, we all deserve a chance to relax, too. If you’re not hosting, giving a helping hand is really thoughtful. Offering to show up a few hours early, with prosecco or mulled wine, is its own little Christmas miracle.


SERVES 12, with extra brownies left over


TOTAL TIME 1 hr 20 mins, plus cooling and chilling


A simple brownie traybake gets a glitzy makeover with some clever cutting, a festive blanket of snowy white chocolate buttercream and colourful sprinkle decorations.

◆ 150g butter

◆ 325g dark chocolate, chopped

◆ 190g golden or white caster sugar

◆ 190g light muscovado or brown sugar

◆ 450g whole milk

◆ 2 tsp vanilla extract

◆ 275g plain flour

◆ 50g cocoa powder

◆ ½ tsp fine sea salt

◆ 225g white chocolate chips

◆ 100g white chocolate, chopped

◆ 125g unsalted butter, softened

◆ 1 tsp vanilla extract

◆ 200g icing sugar, sifted

◆ 1-2 tbsp milk, to loosen

◆ a large piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle

◆ a white ch

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