As Christmas approaches and decorations go up, the desire to bake Christmas goodies suddenly increases. Here are two easy recipes to get you into the festive spirit without much effort, but which taste amazing and can even be given as gifts.
The classic Christmas mince pie. Here you have two options depending on the time you have: homemade or premade pastry – both taste good. Likewise, you could make your own mincemeat but this can get slightly complicated so I would recommend you buy a jar. If you want to make your own pastry you will need:
225g cold butter
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar (normal caster sugar will also work)
1 small egg
Begin by using your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it forms breadcrumbs. The best way to achieve this is to try to only use the tips of your fingers as it prevents the pastry from getting too warm. Once breadcrumbs have been formed, add the sugar and a pinch of salt and combine the pastry into a ball without using any liquid. At this point it’s a good idea to preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6/180C in a fan oven. You can then roll the pastry, regardless if you have made or purchased it, and cut it. You want to use round cutters but if you don’t own any you can always cut around a glass. Then, place the pastry into a cupcake baking tray and add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each one. It’s then up to you what you do with the lid; you can either create a full lid (but remember to pierce a slight hole with a knife or fork to allow the steam to leave) or you could cut out a star. If you fancy something a bit different, you can even put some of the pastry when it is still in breadcrumb form to the side and use it to sprinkle over the mincemeat as a lid; this creates a crumble-style mince pie and is potentially my favourite. You can then beat the egg and brush the tops of the pastry (if you have made crumble style mince pies leave this part out) to give it a nice shine when baked. Finally, bake for 20 minutes until golden and if you are feeling really fancy sprinkle with some icing sugar.
The gingerbread biscuit is a simple Christmas bake, but can look extremely impressive. It’s up to you if you make gingerbread men, simple circles (but nonetheless tasty) or even a gingerbread house; I would recommend looking online for some templates if you wish to do the latter. Regardless of your design idea, to make the dough you will need:
350g plain flour (plus some extra for rolling)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tsb ground cinnamon
175g light brown sugar (normal caster sugar will suffice if you don’t have any)
4tbsp golden sugar
To decorate, you will need some writing icing, which you can either make yourself with icing sugar or buy.
Begin by sifting the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into a bowl. Add the butter and mix with your fingers (or a food processor if you are fancy) until it forms breadcrumbs. Add the egg (after beating) and golden syrup and mix until it clumps together. You then need to knead the dough so it’s easier if you remove it from the bowl. You want to ensure it becomes a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for around 15 minutes. Then, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with butter or grease-proof paper. You can then roll the dough (a thickness of around half a centimetre is best) and cut into your desired shapes, before baking for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden-brown. Leave to cool, then decorate as you wish; this is your chance to really be creative and make them look really pretty. This last step is an especially important step if you want to give the biscuits as a gift.