It’s been a busy few weeks leading up to Christmas. Even though sometimes you feel as if you’re meeting yourself coming backwards and life is a whirlwind, I do love all the exciting lead up and all the baking I do. I’ve put my Sam’s Smart Cookies and Cupcakes business on hold for the moment until my son leaves school but baking is very much in my blood and I couldn’t imagine not doing it. It would be like losing a part of me. Instead, I turned to baking for friends and family making foodie presents as well as donating mince pies and other goodies to Christmas events at work.
I made several batches of these mince pies during December. In previous years I’ve used various recipes, including Nigella’s Domestic Goddess recipe and the one featured in the very first Great British Bake Off cookbook. Compared with shop bought mince pies they are smaller and the mincemeat is sweeter but they are how I imagine homemade mince pies to taste. I baked some mince pies to serve after our school Nativity performance and also for a grandparents’ Christmas tea party. Sadly, when I was baking for the first event I was carrying a rack of two dozen pies from the oven over to the worktop and knocked them all onto the floor. Oh dear! It didn’t help that my greedy but gorgeous Labrador ran in while I was getting the brush out and “hoovered” them up! We only had half the mince pies on that night! I can see the funny side of it now!
I love baking cupcakes at Christmas and although I don’t have much spare time to make my own toppers and decorations I was pleased that my local Sainsburys could help me out. I got the gingerbread men and Christmas pudding toppers in special packs and the snowmen came from somewhere else. I was also pleased to find TKMaxx selling sprinkles and found some great crushed peppermint pieces in a tub.
For our school Grandparents’ Christmas Party during the last week of term I wanted to serve Christmas Cake but hadn’t left enough time to bake a traditional cake. I found this ideal alternative in Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, a light fruit cake baked as a traybake. You then ice the top with marzipan and sugarpaste and cut it into small squares. I thought this was a brilliant idea and the cakes went down well even though some people don’t like the sweet icing, it was easily peeled off. I decorated the tops with snowflakes, trees, stars and other Christmassy motifs.
When baking for Sam’s Smart Cookies and Cupcakes I made these gingerbread Christmas Trees to order. Each one I made was unique and I loved putting them together. This year I only made one which I donated as a raffle prize. I originally bought the cutters from Selfridges as a set from Wilton when I was in London a few years back. Now Lakeland Limited sell them and they are very popular. For the recipe I use 2 batches of a gingerbread cookie recipe and bake two of each size of cookie. Once these have been baked and cooled they are covered in roll out icing. I used the white Renshaw icing for this project and added Skittles and Toffee bon-bons.
Here’s hoping you all had a great 2013, fantastic Christmas and that you’re looking forward to what 2014 may bring.
Love Sam xx