Christmas is always a great time for baking and get-togethers. So here are a few good recipes to get you into the mood.

 

Funky Christmas Cookies:

 This is a very easy recipe and ideal for baking with children. First, make the dough, and then get various cookie cutters and cut out the shapes you like. Finally decorate with tubes of edible writing gel, chocolate, or other decorations. The more organic and well-sourced ingredients you can use, the better.

Ingredients: 120g butter, 120g plain flour, 60g semolina, 60g caster
sugar, 100g icing sugar.

1) Take a big bowl and add the flour and butter (don’t use butter straight from the fridge, but leave it out for 24 hours before,  so it is soft). Rub both together with your hands. If your hands get very messy and sticky, add some flour to your hands to make them less sticky.

2) Once the mixture resembles lots of little breadcrumbs, add the semolina and caster sugar. Then squash everything together until you have a firm ball of dough.

3) Set the oven to 150degrees/300F/or Gas Mark 2. Get out a baking tray and add some baking sheets to place the cookies on.

4) Sprinkle some flour on a big wooden chopping board or clean countertop and start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin.  Make it quite thin, but not so thin that it breaks easily.

5) Now use the cookie cutters to cut out various shapes and place them carefully on a baking tray. Once the tray is full put it in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Then take them out and leave them to cool. Whilst the first lot of cookies is baking, take the rest of the dough roll it out again, and repeat the step for another 3-4 times until there is no more dough left.

6) You can eat the cookies just like that once they have cooled or store them in a box.  But you can also add a layer of icing. Mix the icing sugar with a tiny bit of water until you have a gooey paste. Then add some natural color and flavors (you can find them in the baking section) and decorate your cookies. This is a great activity for children. My two boys always loved baking and decorating cookies!

Chewy Winter Chocolate Bites

These chocolate fudge pieces make a great Christmas present and you don’t even have to bake them!

Ingredients: 200g/8oz plain chocolate, 50g/2oz butter, 1 tbsp cocoa
powder, 50ml double cream, 250g/9oz icing sugar, 8 glace cherries

1) Put the chocolate, butter, and cocoa powder into a glass or ceramic bowl. Then take a saucepan, put some water in it and gently place a ceramic bowl over the saucepan, so that the water heats the chocolate and melts it.

2) Stir everything together and pour the mixture into a plastic mixing bowl
and add the cream and beat in the icing sugar.

3) Chop the cherries into small pieces and fold them into the mixture.

4) Spoon the mixture into a shallow tin and smooth the top. Then chill the tin in the fridge until it is set. Once it is solid, cut it into small squares and put them into little muslin bags with ribbons. That makes a great Christmas gift.

Christmas Stollen

This is a German Christmas recipe and it is a sweet bread that contains
sultanas, nuts, and orange peel. This recipe makes roughly 30 portions.

Ingredients: 175g/6oz blanched almonds, 175g/6oz blanched sultanas,100g/4oz
currants, 100g/4oz finely diced glacee lemon peel, 100g/4oz finely diced glacee
orange peel, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar, grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon, 3 tbsp of
rum , 500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, 20g/3/4 oz dried yeast, 90g/3oz sugar,
125ml/half pint of lukewarm milk, 1 pinch of salt, 250g/9oz butter/ flour to
roll out the dough, 150g/5oz of melted butter, 100g/4 oz icing sugar to dust.

The rum, glacee peels are optional but add extra flavor.

1) Grind half of the almonds and roughly chop the other half. Then combine
with sultanas, currants, glacee peel, vanilla sugar, lemon rind, and rum. Cover
the mixture with cling film and leave overnight.

2) The next day put the flour into a large mixing bowl, make a dent in the
middle and add the yeast. Sprinkle some sugar over the yeast and then add the
lukewarm milk and dissolve the yeast This will take a little while.

3) Once the dough has risen add the marinated fruit mixture.

4) Prepare a baking sheet, sprinkle some flour on it, and spread the mixture over to form a rectangle of roughly 40x 30cm/16x12in.
Brush it with water and place the stollen carefully on an oven tray together with the baking paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for a further 20 minutes.

5) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/390 F/gas mark 6.  and bake the stollen in the center for around 40 minutes.

6) Take the stollen out and check if it is well baked. Then brush it with melted butter and dust it with icing sugar. Keep repeating this process until all the butter and icing sugar are gone. Wrap the stollen into an aluminum foil and leave it at least for 2-3 weeks. This process will develop its flavors and now it it ready to serve.

Happy baking and eating!

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