A baking blog with nothing at Christmas? What sort of blog is that? Well unfortunately one of someone rather harassed with work again. Christmas has rushed upon me this year and I am more unprepared than ever. That project I mentioned a while back finally went live a month ago, but as is the way with IT projects, we then had to fix all the unforeseen problems. Net result – constant work and little time to plan for Christmas, apart form a quick trip to Cologne for the fabulous Christmas markets with our very special friend Richard and his lovely daughter Mary.
The beloved has been a trojan over all this and quietly got on with getting us ready for Christmas. The ultimate delight was coming home to the house completely decorated. 16th Century cottages seem designed specifically for Christmas. All those wood beams with 400 year old nail holes in them mean you can pop in decorations wherever you fancy, especially when you have brought back gorgeousness from Cologne. I have added a few photos to give you an idea.
Now normally by Christmas Eve, the Christmas baking would have started well over 2 months ago with preparations for the annual Christmas cake.
The British Christmas cake is a dense fruit cake soaked in alcohol (opinions differ between brandy or rum) , and then after 2 months it is covered in marzipan and icing (Royal king is the real deal but fondant is gaining in ascendancy), and decorated with a Christmas theme. It is a classic piece of slow food. Soak your fruit in booze for at least a week, bake for hours on end, allow to mature for at least a month feeding weekly with spoonfuls of chosen brown spirit (I’m a brandy man), cover in marzipan (and then leave for a week at least for it to dry), ice (and if you go for smooth royal icing that takes a week just to get the base on), and then decorate.
You will have guessed that this year there has been no time for that, but I have found a very successful last minute Christmas Cake recipe which I will post about over the holiday period. However just to prove I can do it if time allowed, here are a few from past years.
There are other British Christmas classics like the mince pie which if you have a big family you need hundreds of, and which are delicious at the start of the season and by the end of the season you are heartily sick off. Home made is the only way to go and I will post my own way of doing them soon.
My other Christmas preparations usually involve baking various loaves specially designed for the cheeseboard, the eternal hunt for an alternative to the Christmas pudding (a ghastly steamed version of the Christmas cake which is the very last thing you want to eat after a Christmas meal), the game pie for Boxing Day and of course there have to be macarons not to mention a desire to venture into homemade toffees, sorbets, nougat and any other gorgeous thing that you can only justify eating at Christmas.
I had plans this year to build a construction in Gingerbread having been inspired by this beauty when we were in Prague in the summer.
Needless to say very little of any of this actually happened, but I have spent the last 3 days in serious catch up mode. So far I have knocked out 2 stollen, 50 mince pies, 3 loaves of bread, 8 meringue nests (the base of this year’s pudding), another 2 failed attempts at sourdough panettone (I am now at failure number 5!), my first ever Lebkuchen and my first ever gingerbread biscuits (the beloved has described them as “artisanal”), and we still have New Year’s Eve coming and I really must venture onto new ground for that one.
So please check back over the next week or 2. I will be posting (somewhat belatedly) on the ups and downs of the last 3 days. It is almost midnight on Christmas eve and I am completely exhausted, but Happy Christmas to you all, and Happy Baking.
happened over the last