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Makes: 15 Gingerbread Men Time: 1 Hour
- 140g unsalted butter
- 100g dark muscovado sugar
- 3 Tbsp golden syrup
- 350g plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp of gound ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 ball stem ginger froma jar
- 50g icing sugar
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix flour, soda, spices and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in the butter mix and chopped ginger to make a stiff-ish dough.
- Wait until cool enough to handle, then roll out dough to about 5mm thick. Stamp out gingerbread men, re-rolling and pressing the trimmings back together and rolling again. Lift onto baking sheets.
- Bake for 12 mins until golden. Cool 10 mins on the sheets, then lift onto cooling racks.
- To decorate, mix icing sugar with a few drops of water until thick and smooth.
- Spoon icing into a food bag, snip off the tiniest bit from one corner, then squeeze eyes and buttons, and a tiny smile onto 1 man at a time.
Makes: 30 Cinnamon Stars Time: 45 minutes
- 2 large white eggs
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 200g icing sugar
- 250g ground almond
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to whisk until foamy. Add the lemon juice and whisk again until they hold soft peaks.
- Slowly mix in the icing sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is stiff. Remove about a quarter of the meringue mixture and set aside to use for the topping. Put the almonds, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest in the bowl with the meringue and mix to form a stiff, slightly sticky dough.
- To form the stars, put the dough on a piece of baking parchment lightly dusted with icing sugar and dust the top of the dough with sugar, too. Place a second sheet of parchment on top of the dough and roll out to about 0.5cm thick. Peel off the top sheet of parchment and use a 5cm star-shaped cutter to cut out as many cookies as possible. Place them on your prepared baking tray.
- Using the reserved meringue mixture, spread a small amount onto the top of each cookie, covering the entire top – you may need to add a few drops of water to make the meringue a little easier to spread. Put the tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 mins until meringue is set but not browned. Allow to cool fully before storing in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes: 12 Mince Pies Time: 1 hour - 1 hour 1/2
- 350g high quality mincemeat
- 200g plain flour, sifted
- 40g golden caster sugar
- 75g ground almonds
- 125g unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- milk, to glaze
- Lightly butter a 12-hole pie or patty tin. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir so that the liquid is evenly distributed.
- Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process briefly until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg through the feeder tube.
- Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour or so. Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter, large enough to fill the base of the prepared tin. Press gently into each hole, then fill with the mincemeat.
- Cut out another 12 slightly smaller discs and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal. Make a small slit in the top of each, then brush lightly with milk. Chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- Bake the pies for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm.
Makes: 35 Shortbread Biscuits Time: 20 minutes
- 325g plain flour
- 200g chilled salted butter, plus a little more for the sheets
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 2 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
- 2large free range egg yolks
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Tip the flour into a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and drop them into the bowl, then whizz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks and whizz to a smooth dough.
- With your hands, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a sausage shape about 25cm/9in long and 5cm/2½in in diameter. Wrap the roll and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C and lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into slices, each a generous 5mm/¼in thick, then arrange them on the greased baking sheets, spacing the biscuits slightly apart so they have a bit of room to spread as they cook.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the biscuits are just turning pale golden around the edges, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust generously with icing sugar. The biscuits will keep fresh for up to one week stored in an airtight tin.
Mini Christmas Cakes
Makes: 24 Christmas Cakes Time: 2 hours & 30 minutes
- 3 cups dried currants
- 1 ¼ cups raisins
- 1 cup sultana raisins
- ½ cup candied red cherries, chopped
- 8 fluid ounces brandy
- grated zest of 1 large orange
- grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon molasses, or more to taste
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup self-rising flour
- ¼ cup ground almonds
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- ½ cup ground almonds
- 6 tablespoons apricot jam
- 2 ½ packages marzipan
- ½ box of white fondant
- 1 teaspoon blue food coloring
- Combine currants, raisins, sultana raisins, and candied cherries in a plastic container with a lid. Pour brandy over dried fruit; stir in orange and lemon zest. Close container and set aside to soak for 2 to 3 days. Stir or shake container every few hours as you remember.
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with 24 cupcake cases or lightly grease 24 ramekins.
- Combine 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Add eggs and molasses and beat well. Stir in all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, almonds, and mixed spice until well combined. Fold in almonds and soaked fruit; mix well. Spoon mixture into the prepared cases or ramekins.
- Bake in the preheated oven on the center rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean, about 90 minutes. Allow to cool in their cases.
- Store in airtight tins or wrap them tightly in greaseproof paper and aluminum foil for at least 10 days before decorating.
- Heat jam in the microwave for 10 seconds until warmed and brush onto each cake.
- Roll out marzipan between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Cut out circles with a round cookie cutter or a glass with the same diameter as the cakes. Arrange marzipan circles on top of the jam on each mini fruitcake. Store fruitcakes in an airtight container before finishing the final decoration, 8 hours to overnight.
- Roll out white fondant between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and cut out circles with the same diameter as the cakes. Press a cookie stencil with a snowflake pattern onto the fondant circles. Color in the snowflake pattern with blue food coloring using a small brush and place on top of the marzipan layer. Repeat with remaining cakes.