The festive spirit is building in our house and everyone is looking forward to a well deserved break. I'm just back from visiting my childrens' School Christmas fair. It is lovely to see so many handmade gifts on sale. The festive season provides so many opportunities to spend time together as a family. One tradition my kids adore at this time of year is creating a winter wonderland table centrepiece. Together they cover a cereal box, with tinfoil and collect little twigs for trees, cones for bushes and some holly. A dusting of spray snow transforms everything into a magical lakeside scene. What better way to get your house looking and feeling festive than creating a gorgeous chalet style Ginger Bread House scene. The simple A-frame structure is foolproof so you will be able to construct it with minimal fuss and spend more time on those extra details that make it look so pretty.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE WITH ROYAL ICING
I always make...
By now the house will be strewn with tinsel and glittering baubles. It is the perfect time to indulge in a bit of festive baking alongside a playlist of holiday tunes. These red velvet cupcakes are show stoppers! The cocoa powder in the sponge gives them a mild chocolate flavour and rich colour. For the fabulous red icing I use cream cheese which lends a contrasting tangy taste to these sweet cupcakes.
Red velvet bakes have an intriguing trompe l’oeil effect signalling to the brain ‘red fruit’, whilst the flavour of the cake is actually chocolate, due to the addition of cocoa powder. Commercial bakers achieve a vibrant deep red sponge purely by adding artificial red food colouring as it maintains a stable colour after baking which doesn’t fade. However the manufacturer’s labelling indicates it should be used sparingly (so it’s wise to ask mum to supervise the amount used). In this recipe, I have kept the red colouring to a...
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A chocolate roulade makes an elaborate centrepiece at this time of year, so why not give your family a fabulous festive treat with this chocolate roulade. My flourless chocolate roulade is deliciously light and gluten free. Combining cherries, orange and a rich chocolate mousse like filling, it is the perfect prepare ahead dessert as it tastes even better when made the day before. Flavours such as brandy, cointreau, coffee, sweetened chestnut purée and even ginger can be added to the chocolate sponge or filling.
Decorate into a Yule log for an elaborate, luxurious seasonal centrepiece.
200g dark chocolate (max 55% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
5 eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g dark chocolate, broken into squares
250g butter, softened
40g icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp milk
Mince Pies play such a big part in a typical Christmas. My grandma made them every year and while she always made her pastry by hand, she only ever used a jar of mincemeat. I start to bake mince pies at home from the first week in December. While my kids love the taste of them, they love making them even more with this easy recipe. They make gorgeous presents wrapped up in florist cello-wrap and tied up with a festive ribbon.
Since I bake alot, I find my muffin tins have the perfect size hollows for filling deep mince pies. If you have a shallower tins, be careful not to fill them to the brim as the mincemeat filling will expand while being baked. Make them in advance and leave in the freezer uncooked and bake them when you need them.
There are lots of ways you can add your own signature to mincemeat. You can add some extra crunch with toasted chopped hazelnuts or bitter...