Mindful Christmas Baking

The house smells of ginger and cinnamon. I just baked two dozen mince pies and a couple of trays of my Christmas cookies.

There is something special about pre-Christmas baking. It’s more than just preparing food, albeit seasonal favourites. It’s the only time of the year I really get to play with the fancy cutters and edible glitter.

I suppose there were other more pressing tasks that I was putting off, so you could say I was procrastiBAKING……..or even proCRAFTinating. I did need a bit of an escape from reality though.

Here in the UK, huge additional anti-COVID measures were implemented at short notice covering large parts of the South East. Previous Government plans to relax the rules over Christmas have been stopped for the whole country. Travel restrictions have been put in place. For many people this means that anticipated family get togethers are cancelled. I have friends who won’t be able to spend Christmas with their children this year as they can’t travel home. Thank goodness mine are close by and for now at least, infection rates are lower here in our part of Northumberland.

I felt the need to avoid the news and become absorbed in something creative to occupy all my senses for a couple of hours. With those Christmassy smells and tastes (because I did eat the leftover fragments of cookie dough); the feel of the dough in my hands; the ping of the oven timer and the sight of a batch of mince pies sizzling as they come out of the even, It’s one way to escape reality for a couple of hours, even if it’s only in the kitchen.

Stay safe everyone.

Christmas Biscuits

I’ve said before that I keep getting sidetracked into doing something crafty when I should have just got on with it. So, I made some mince pies and gingerbread biscuits and should have just stopped there really. I can’t help myself! I just had to play with the icing.

The recipe is quite simple and straightforward… you’ll need

  • 150g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon

To make…..

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (160C fan)
  • Line 3 or four baking sheets with greaseproof/baking paper
  • Melt butter, sugars and syrup together in a pan, stirring to combine.
  • Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl
  • Pour butter/sugar mix into flour mix and bring together
  • Knead well – if too dry, add a drop of water. Roll into ball and flatten. Leave to cool.
  • Roll out on floured board to 5mm thick. Cut out shapes (I used round, star and gingerbread man cutters) and place on baking sheets, well spaced. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Cool on wire racks.

To ice the Rudolph biscuits I used ginger bread men upside down! I mixed up some glace icing and piped on antlers and eyes. I coloured small pieces of ready-roll icing black and red, and used tiny balls of black icing for the pupils and larger balls of red icing for the noses.

A while ago I bought these spring-loaded snowflake cutters

I used these to embellish the round and star-shaped biscuits. I rolled out white ready to roll icing to about 3mm thick. With such a delicate shape, the easiest way to apply the icing is to cut the design and while the icing shape is still in the cutter, wet the surface a little to make it stick to the biscuit using a a finger dipped in water. Position the cutter over the biscuit exactly where you want the icing to land then press the plunger to release it. Press very lightly to help it stick. I used the larger cutters for the round biscuits and the smallest ones for the stars. I finished off by dusting the icing with edible glitter

Aren’t they pretty? Perfect to have with coffee after Christmas lunch.

Have you been baking for Christmas?