Wednesday, December 21, 2011

homemade love

When I was growing up in the UK and Germany, Christmas was always a big deal. A
large part of that, especially in Germany in the lead up to Christmas, was the food.
On the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas we would have coffee, cake and Christmas biscuits,
and light a candle for advent. My mum always had a wreath made of real fir trees especially
for this purpose - there were four deep red candles, and to this day the smell of fir trees
transports me back to that time.

I have tried to continue the tradition of Christmas baking in the lead up to the
festive season. Usually I bake for my son's class so that each child gets a little gingerbread man -
I had to let that go this year as we were getting ready to move house in the last
week of term - so supermarket bought candy canes it was. But I have been revelling
in the new kitchen and have enjoyed baking with the boy of the house for friends and colleagues.

I always think there is something a bit special about making something yourself - it's like
lovingly cooking a meal for friends. It was a nice way to spend a few hours with the boy
of the house, without it involving trampoline or pool action....

boy of the house carefully measuring ingredients


some spice biscuits just out of the oven

little gingerbread man ready to go

two of my parcels with biscuits ready to be distributed

This year I have added a new recipe to my Christmas baking - shortbread with cinnamon.
Being half Scottish I was deeply sceptical about any messing about with
shortbread - why meddle with something so perfect - but Mum assured me that
it was fabulous. She is right. Recipe follows.

Cinnamon shortbread

225 gm butter, softened
75 gm caster sugar
225 gm plain flour
50 gm cornflour
1 tsp cinnamon (I often use more than this)

Beat the butter and sugar together, though not so much that they are fluffy.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, cornflour and cinnamon, then
add them to the butter/sugar mixture.

Press the mixture into a 23 cm shallow square cake tin and smooth the
surface with the back of a wet spoon. Prick all over with a
fork then chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170 (150 fan forced) and bake for 55 min or until
pale golden. Remove from oven, cut into fingers
and sprinkle with golden caster sugar ( I usually don't sprinkle).

Leave to cool for 15 min in tin then finish cooling on rack.

Enjoy !

1 comment:

  1. So few people bother with any kind of Christmas baking or baking at any time, it depresses me. I've never bought a cake for either Alex's or Sam's birthdays but I wonder if that's for my benefit or theirs' - will they remember that when they're older, realise that some effort and love goes into it and/or care?!

    I recently made almost 100 assorted biscuits and cakes for a school fayre only to discover at the end of it that my contributions hadn't been put out because they'd had too many so just put a few things at a time and restocked as necessary. They hadn't prioritised home-made over shop bought stuff, though, so I was absolutely furious. And they wondered why the cakes sale hadn't done very well - maybe the lure of a pile of Mr Kiplings wasn't that strong! Anyway, Sam's football team and their opponents enjoyed them the next day but I may not do do that again.

    At Christmas, I always make four small Christmas cakes - I keep one or two and give the others away to either friends or family. I also make an extra two small Christmas puds, usually as gifts or sometimes to put in the choir ha,per that we raffle at our Christmas concert. I also make mincemeat with the left-over 'stuff' and some kind of biscuit for the tin. jamie Oliver's orange and polenta biscuits are a bit scrummy but I might try your shortbread! Suspect we might be a bit shortbreaded out, though, as mum arrives tomorrow and she usually brings a tin of heart and star shaped shortbread.

    So glad you bake (that sound ridiculous!) - and with the boy of the house too. Sam likes a spot of baking still, I'm glad to say!