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.
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.