Day 9: Baking
Today's email will be short and sweet. And sometimes savoury. Today, I want to encourage you to do some Christmas baking...
- Not to feed guests (although of course you're welcome to do that),
- Not to give away as presents (although you can obviously do that too),
- But just for the joy of it
For me, Christmas really starts to feel like Christmas once the baking tools come out. I like to make sugar biscuits. For others, it's gingerbread. Or a plum pudding. Christmas cake. Shortbread. A yule log. Fruit mince pies.
Whatever it is you like to cook or bake at Christmas time, see if you can carve out some time this week to do it. The reason I said "not for guests or as gifts" was because I want you just to enjoy the process, not to feel that there's a deadline or a quality standard or a minimum quantity that you have to create.
Put on music, gather the family, and bake together if they're up for it. The reason I love Christmas biscuits is because the children can bake them with me, and choose all kinds of shapes (or create their own). One day I'll learn to make a proper gingerbread house - in the meantime, I've bought a kit that we'll put together later this week instead.
When you're done, share your Christmas baking around, to spread the cheer. Maybe plonk down in front of a Christmas movie with a plate of whatever you've baked on hand. Wonky stars, burnt edges, sunken cakes and all. I bet it still tastes great, and the festive joy will have been in the making and the company.
In case you're looking for one, here's my sugar biscuit recipe (it was adapted from Lunch Lady magazine, which I absolutely adore. If you have kids and like cooking, you'll love this magazine!).
A little note: these biscuits like the cold, and become difficult to manage once warm. If you're in the southern hemisphere, choose a cooler day to bake, or pick a room that's not too hot or sticky. If you're in the northern hemisphere, turn down the heat.
190 grams (6.5oz) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon of salt
330 grams (11.5oz) plain flour
MAKE THE DOUGH:
1. Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly
2. Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat well
3. Add in the salt, and half of the flour
4. Mix until the flour has been absorbed. If you are using an electric mixer, do this on a low setting
5. Add in the rest of the flour, and mix it into a dough
6. Turn the dough out onto a board, knead it lightly, then divide it into two equal balls
7. Here you're supposed to wrap the balls in plastic and put them in the 'fridge to chill. If like me you are trying to cut back on the plastic in your home, two alternatives are either to wrap them in beeswax wraps, if you have them, or to wrap them in tea-towels and put them in airtight glass containers. Leave them in the 'fridge for at least an hour
MAKE THE BISCUITS:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350F), and line some baking trays with baking paper
2. Take the dough out of the 'fridge, and let it stand for five minutes. You'll only need to wait a minute or two if the room is warm
3. Roll out the dough until it is about half a centimetre (1/4 inch) thick. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin, place it between two sheets of baking paper
4. Start cutting the dough into any shoes you like, placing them on the baking trays as you go
5. Put your biscuits back into the 'fridge, still on the baking trays! Leave them in there for about half an hour
6. Now pop them in the oven, and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes.
7. Cool on wire racks. If you want to, sprinkle sugar over them while they are still warm and soft. Alternatively, you could ice them or pipe decorations onto them once they've cooled
And now as promised, here are some of the delicious recipes from other people on this Calm Christmas journey with us, that they have generously shared for everyone. The recipes are:
- Shortbread cookies from Kaitlyn Webb Patience
- Cinnamon sugar-coated cashews from Annmarie Sellars
- French Iced Coffee from Mindy Harmon
- Skating cookies from Louise Macdonald
- Tiramisu from Nanette
- Oyster Dressing from Mary Jo Piwetz
- Parmesan tiles from Anonymous in France
- Pistachio Rosewater Cookies from Linda Kazel
Just click the link below to download all the recipes, and I wish you happy making and baking!
I hope you have fun baking, and that it makes you feel Christmassy through and through. Let me know how you go! You can write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you tomorrow!