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Blogmas Day 22 – Baking

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By Abbey Morton
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Blogmas Day 22 - Baking

MINCE pies - bleurgh.

Christmas cake – yuk.
Figgy pudding – no thanks!
Unfortunately I don’t like dried fruit so these traditional Christmas treats are a no-no.
I inherited my dislike for all things raisin filled from my mum and I’ve passed it onto the rest of the family.
So it means we’ve had to invent our own Christmas treat and that has always been krispy cakes.
In the the days before the 25th we whip up a batch as festive tunes hum in the background.
It’s a simple concoction of melted marshmallows, toffee, butter and Rice Crispies, but it tastes oh so good.
You can’t just have one slice.
I’ve flirted with a Cornflake version too, involving melted Rolos, butter and the flakes.
Equally moreish.
In fact, I might make both this year. What the heck, it’s Christmas!

(by Fiona Reid)
UNLIKE Fiona I love mince pies, have a flourishing relationship with fruit cake and can’t wait to tuck into my figgy pudding!
Christmas is the only time I eat dried fruit, it’s probably because it is drowned in alcohol and coated in extra sugar and pastry.
I made my Christmas cakes back in October — one following my mother-in-law’s old recipe and the other using kitchen goddess Mary Berry’s advice.
On Christmas Day I will taste them both and see which I prefer.
One is laced with brandy and the other with my husband’s aged Havana Club (ssshhhh, don’t tell him!).
We have also held a household bake-off this week.
I made my usual mince pies and my husband tackled gingerbread biscuits for the first time.
Both bakes were a roaring success and have been wolfed down by family and friends.
In fact we have been requested to make them again before the 25th.
If anyone would like to have a bash at the biscuits and pies below are the recipes we used.

Mince pies

I used a jar of mincemeat but made it a bit more luxurious by adding a splash of brandy, the juice of half a clementine and 50g of ground almonds to soak up the extra liquid.
For the pastry, rub together 225g cold, diced butter and 350g of plain flour.
When fully combined stir in 100g of caster sugar and bring together as much as you can.
This pastry is very short and crumbly, almost like shortbread.
It cannot be rolled out and do not be tempted to add any liquid, this will make the pastry tough.
Line 18 holes of two shallow 12-hole pattie tins with the pastry, press it in evenly.
Share about 300g of your mincemeat between the pastry cases.
For the tops flatten a small amount of the pastry between your hands and lay on top of the mincemeat, gently pressing the edges together.
If you like, you can try to cut them into shapes — they won’t be neat, but that just adds to the home-made look!
Brush with a little beaten egg and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.
To serve, dust with icing sugar and a dollop of brandy cream —\!q delicious!

Christmas homemade gingerbread cookies on wooden table
Christmas homemade gingerbread cookies on wooden table

Gingerbread men

In a bowl sift together 350g of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 3 teaspoons of ground ginger and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
Add the dry ingredients to a food processor along with 125g of butter and pulse the mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Gently stir in 175g of light soft brown sugar.
In a cup, lightly beat one egg and four tablespoons of golden syrup together.
Add the wet mix to the food processor and pulse until the mixture forms clumps.
Tip it onto a floured surface and knead briefly, just until it comes together smoothly, then wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 15 mins.
Set your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a couple of trays with greaseproof paper.
Roll your dough out to about half a centimetre thick of a floured surface and cut your biscuits into Christmassy shapes — bells, stars, trees, reindeer, etc.
If you have space, chill the biscuits on a tray before baking to stop the mix spreading too much.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown.
Leave on the tray for 10 minutes to harden slightly and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate lavishly!

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