In Review: Advent, Festive Bakes

Our chosen book this month is the festive and inspiring cook book: 'Advent: Festive Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas', by writer, cook and artist Anja Dunk.


It's dark outside and a crisp dusting of frost coats the ground. Candles flicker and gentle music burbles in the background. The delicious scent of warmed spice and buttery goodness drifts from the kitchen and makes everyone smile. This is the feeling engendered by Anja Dunk’s book ‘Advent’. The four week period before Christmas is a particularly important time in Germany, steeped in traditional rituals, most of which centre around making the oven the hearth of the home. Sharing homemade treats is typical, with a Bunter Teller (colourful plate) of Christmas biscuits a necessity in households over this period.


Anja Dunk is a freelance writer, cook and artist of German heritage who used lockdown as a creative opportunity, not only to write the book but also to take the photographs and create the 24 linocuts which mark each chapter, in keeping with the Advent countdown. She has created a really evocative cultural journal, full of personality and warmth, as she shares her festive family recipes and imparts the traditions behind them.

‘Much of the baking of Adventsgebäck is done together as a family. It’s a messy affair with icing sugar flying through the air, sprinkles and silver balls skittling around the table, and as you can imagine, much excitement. Never is our oven used more than in the run up to Christmas.’

Even if you are not a baker, you will find it hard not to get drawn into the comforting German winter culture as much as the actual recipes, although these prove to be pretty irresistible. They cover all bases, from savoury rolls and potato cakes to spiced biscuits and much loved Stollen and Lebkuchen. Festive drinks are also included, from traditional Schnapps and a non alcoholic punch, to Hot Chocolate with Rum and popular Gluhwein. Confectionary also has its place, encouraging you to assemble the family in order to make cinnamon roasted almonds, rum balls and chocolate coated walnut marzipan as homemade gifts for friends. If you are vegan or gluten free, there’s a handy section at the back of the book that includes tips on switching ingredients and there are also templates for cookie cutters, so there is no excuse for not embracing the Advent season in all its baking glory!

Cloth bound with gold detailing, this book is ideal for anyone who wants to whet their appetite for the cosy Christmas season ahead.