Tag: christmas

Mince pies

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 45 minutes + 15 minutes baking

Serves: makes 24

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

375g plain flour
260g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
800g jar mincemeat

 

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It wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies. So far this year we’ve made about 4 batches and I think there is probably time for some more! We use a jar of mincemeat but you could make your own. Don’t be put off making your own pastry, it’s not as hard as you think, although you could use shop bought shortcrust pastry if you wanted.

Method

Make the pastry
Get your toddler to weigh the flour (375g) out and put it in a large mixing bowl. Measure the butter (260g) and cut into small pieces before adding to your bowl.

  

Rub together until it looks like breadcrumbs.

 

Get your child to measure the sugar (125g) and add to the bowl. Crack the egg into the bowl.

 

Mix everything until it’s coming together then tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold until the pastry comes together – try not to over mix, as soon as it happily forms a ball you’re done. Wrap the pastry up in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 15+ minutes or so.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/200 fan.

Make your mince pies
Lightly flour your work surface then get your toddler to help you roll the pastry out to 3mm thick.

 

When you’re rolling it out, be sure to turn it 90 degrees between turns – it helps to stop it sticking to your work surface, and also ensures you get an even thickness. When it gets a bit bigger, roll it round your rolling pin before rotating it to stop it tearing.

Use a round cutter (about 10cm) to cut out 24 bases and place them gently into muffin trays. Put a tbsp or so of mincemeat into each base.

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Re-roll the pastry and either use another round cutter to cut some lids (7cm) or if you have stars like we do use them. I prefer using stars as they look nice and Christmassy and I also think it’s a nicer ratio of mince pie meat to pastry.

 

Get your toddler to crack an egg into a small dish. If you are using a full lid brush the edges of your mince pies with a little egg before placing the lids on and pressing them down to seal. You don’t need to worry about the egg at this point if you are using stars.

Use the egg to glaze the tops of the mince pies. If you are using a full lid, cut little slits in the middle.

 

Bake your mince pies
Bake them for 15-20 minutes. They’re ready when they are golden brown and bubbling.
Remove your tray from the oven. Cool the mince pies on a wire rack. I find it easier to remove the mince pies from the muffin tray before while they’re still hot.

mince pies

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Super simple Christmas tree decorations

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 minutes + 10 minutes baking

Serves: 10

Ingredients
75g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
200g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
To decorate
Writing icing tubes

 

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Christmas biscuits

These biscuits are really simple to bake and make great Christmas tree decorations. Little ones will also enjoy getting the chance to decorate the biscuits and see them hanging on the tree.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C / 170C Fan and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar

Get your toddler to measure the butter and cut into small pieces before adding to your mixing bowl.

Weigh the sugar and add that to your bowl.

 

Using wooden spoons, mix the butter and sugar together until it’s soft and well beaten.

 

Add the rest of the ingredients

Crack the egg into your bowl. Get your child to measure the flour out along with the baking powder and salt, then add to your bowl.

  

Mix everything together

We used our hands to rub it all together and then into a nice ball of dough.


Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it in your fridge for half an hour or so to firm up a bit.

Make the biscuits

Get your child to help you roll the mixture out until it is about 1cm thick. If you do it between two sheets of baking paper it will stop it sticking.


Using Christmas shaped biscuit cutters, cut out different shapes and pop them on your prepared baking tray. Use a straw to pierce the top of each cookie to make a hole for the ribbon/thread.

 

Bake the biscuits

Pop the biscuits in the oven for 8-10 minutes. They’re ready when they are turning golden brown.

Remove the trays from the oven and place the biscuits on a wire rack to cool. If you need to – re-pierce the holes before they harden.

Decorate the biscuits

Give your toddler the writing icing and get them to decorate each biscuit.

Thread each biscuit/Christmas tree decorations with ribbon or thread and hang on your tree.

Christmas tree decorations

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Christmas biscuits

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 minutes plus 12 minutes baking

Serves: 12

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
40g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
To decorate
50g each dark and milk chocolate or white chocolate
Sprinkles

 

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These Viennese fingers are buttery, melt in the mouth biscuits. We made them Christmassy with the addition of Christmas sprinkles, but if you swap the green, white and red sprinkles for a different colour you could make them at any time of the year.

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C / 160C fan and prepare a baking sheet

Get your toddler to cover a baking sheet with baking paper.

Mix the sugar and butter together

Get your toddler to measure the butter and sugar and pop them in a bowl or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract. If your child has a relatively steady hand they could do this on their own. If not, they can just help you.

  
Mix together until the mixture is light and pale. It’ll take a few minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients

Measure the flour into a bowl along with the cornflour, baking powder and salt. Sift it in to your large bowl/mixer and mix together again until it’s smooth and thoroughly mixed.

 

Pipe your biscuits

Get your child to help you spoon your biscuit mixture into a piping bag with a large star shaped nozzle. Pipe tight s-shaped spirals onto your baking tray. I normally do the first few then as the mixture softens it gets a bit easier to pipe so Hannah has a go. I don’t worry too much about shapes she pipes.

  

Bake your Christmas biscuits

If you want your biscuits to maintain their shape, pop them in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking them.
Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes or until they’re a pale golden colour. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes or so then carefully move them on to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

Decorate your biscuits

Get your toddler to help break the chocolate into a bowl. We melted ours in the microwave – giving it short blasts until it was all done. Alternatively, you could do it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring it until it’s smooth.


Pour your sprinkles into a bowl. We got some Christmas coloured one from the baking section of our supermarket.
Dip the underside or the end of each biscuit into the chocolate then dip them in the sprinkles. Hannah enjoyed this part, but be warned – it’s a wee bit messy!

 
Let them set on baking paper before serving them.

Christmas biscuits

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Yule log

Difficulty: A wee bit harder

Time: 30 minutes + 10 minutes baking + 10 minutes icing

Serves: 8

Ingredients
Butter, for greasing
5 eggs
140g light muscovado sugar
100g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
caster sugar, for dusting
For the icing and filling
285ml carton double cream
450g fondant chocolate, (we used a mixture of regular chocolate and Lindt Lindor)
icing sugar, for dusting

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What’s more Christmasy than a Yule log? I’ve never actually got round to making one before but have always wanted to. This year Hannah and I (with a bit of help from Daddy and Lewis) gave it a go using a nice easy recipe from BBC Good Food. It was delicious – a definite centrepiece for your Christmas table!

Method

Preheat your oven to 190C/fan 170C and prepare a swiss roll tin.
Get your toddler to butter and line the base and sides of a 30 x 35cm Swiss roll tin with baking paper.

 

Separate the eggs
If your child is older they may be able to help with this. Hannah is a bit young, so I did this step while she measured out the sugar.

Separate your eggs into two bowls. Pop your egg yolks straight into a stand mixer/mixing bowl.

Whisk the eggs and sugar
Get your toddler to weight the sugar into a bowl, then add to your egg yolks along with 2 tbsp of water.

 

Whisk the eggs and sugar using stand mixer or electric whisk until the mixture has thickened, is light in colour and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted. It took us about 5 minutes.

 

Add the flour and cocoa powder
Get your child to measure out the flour and cocoa powder. Sift them into the eggs/sugar. Fold in very carefully using a metal spoon or your whisk blades.

 

Whisk the egg whites
Clean your whisk/stand mixer (we had to put the cake mixture into a different bowl.) Add your egg whites and whisk until they are stiff.

Add them to your cake mixture, folding it in a third at a time, again using a metal spoon/your whisk blades. Try and keep as much air in as possible while thoroughly mixing the whites in. We probably didn’t mix it enough as there were still a few lumps of egg white – we didn’t notice that while we were eating it though!

 

Bake the cake
Get your toddler to pour the mixture into your prepared tin and spread to the edges.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cake feels firm to the touch.


Put a large piece of baking paper on to your work surface, sprinkle with caster sugar then turn the cake out on top. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to cool completely.

Trim a little cake from all the edges to neaten it up, then score along the edge of one of the long sides of the cake. Get your toddler to help you roll it up from there, using the paper to help you, rolling the paper up inside the cake. Do it as tight as you can.

Make the icing and filling
Pour the cream into a small pan and bring to the boil.

While the cream is warming get your toddler to help you break 400g of the chocolate up. Remove the cream from the heat, then add the chocolate. Stir it until it has melted and smooth.

 

Leave it to cool, then chill it until it is spreadable – about an hour.

Cut up the remaining chocolate,

Spoon a third of the icing into a bowl with the chocolate pieces then stir together to make the filling.

Form the yule log
Carefully unroll the yule log, then spread all the filling over to within 2cm of the edges. Roll up the cake again using the paper to help guide you, then set on a board or serving plate.

Cut a thick diagonal slice off one end of the yule log. Spread a little icing over cut side of the small piece of cake and fix it to the large roll to make a stump. Spread remaining icing over the cake, then dust with icing sugar to serve.

 yule log

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Christmas shortbread

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 25 minutes + 20 minutes baking

Serves: approx 12 biscuits

Ingredients

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
110g cornflour
Pinch of salt
110g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

 

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I never quite got round to doing anything for St Andrews day last week but as we had some friends coming round at the weekend I thought I would use that as an excuse to make a tasty Scottish inspired snack. Hannah just got a new snowflake biscuit cutter and wanted to use it so we turned a basic shortbread recipe into something a bit Christmassy. I’ve not made shortbread for years because it didn’t used to go well, but I think these turned out quick well.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 160C fan and prepare your baking trays
Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Add the ingredients a mixing bowl
Get your toddler to weigh the flour (225g) into a small bowl then add to your mixing bowl. Do the same with the cornflour (110g). Add the salt (pinch), then give everything a quick mix.

 

Weigh the sugar (110g) and add it to the bowl.

Get your toddler to weigh the butter (225g) and then cut into small pieces. Add to your bowl.

Form the shortbread dough
Using your finger tips, rub your mixture together until you have fine breadcrumbs, then bring it together kneading it lightly until you have a smooth dough.

  

Roll out your biscuits
Roll the dough out between two pieces of baking paper until it is about 1cm thick. We’ve never done it using baking paper before but found it definitely helped stop it sticking.

Cut into any shape you want and place them on your baking tray. We used our new Christmassy snowflake cutter. Prick the biscuits with a fork.

 

Re-roll the scraps and cut more out.

Chill the baking trays for at least 30 minutes (to stop them spreading too much during cooking). The fewer times you re-roll the dough the better. Ours started to turn a bit greasy as we re-rolled them out loads but they still tasted nice!

Cook the shortbread
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. They’re ready when they’re just starting to turn golden brown at the edges. Leave them on the baking tray for a few minutes then pop them on a wire rack to cool.

Christmas shortbread

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Snowman cupcakes

Difficulty:Easy

Time:15 minutes + 16 minutes baking + 10 minutes decorating

Serves:12 cupcakes

Ingredients

250g (8oz) caster sugar
250g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
250g (8oz) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the snowmen
24 white marshmallows
125g (4oz) butter, softened
250g (8oz) icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 matchmakers
Drawing icing pens

 

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Hannah and I were looking for something festive to take to her Playgroup’s Christmas cake sale and found these adorable snowmen cupcakes. The cupcake is pretty straightforward – you could use any cupcake recipe you like, and just add the snowmen on top. They were simple and fun to make and were a hit at the cake sale.

Method

Pre heat the oven to 150C / 130C fan and prepare your baking tin
Get your toddler to line a 12 hole cupcake tin with paper cases. Use festive colours if you have them.

 

 

Mix the butter and sugar

Get your toddler to measure out the sugar (250g) and add it into a large mixing bowl (we used our stand mixer.)

Measure out the butter (250g), cut it into small pieces and add it to your bowl. If it’s not soft (ie left out of your fridge for a while) give it a tiny blast in your microwave – a few seconds or so – just so it’s easier to mix.

  

Beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. If you don’t have a stand mixer use a hand-held whisk, or even just a wooden spoon.

 

Add the eggs

Get your toddler to break the eggs, one and a time, into a separate bowl. Add to your butter/sugar mixture and beat again after each addition.

 

Add the dry ingredients

Measure out the flour (250g) then add to your bowl. Add the baking powder (1/2 tsp) and vanilla extract (1tsp). Give everything one last stir with a large spoon until it’s just combined. We just used our mixer on its lowest speed as Hannah was enjoying using it!

  

 

Bake the cakes Divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cupcakes are a nice golden brown colour and spring back when you lightly touch them.

Cool them in the tin for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

  

Ice the cupcakes

Get your toddler to measure out the butter (125g) and icing sugar (250g), then add to a large mixing bowl. Beat them together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract (1/2 tsp) and beat again until well mixed.

  

Using a small palette knife (or a butter knife or the back of a spoon) spread the butter icing over each of the cooled cupcakes.

Make sure there is a little bit left to stick the snowmen together!

Make the snowmen

Stick two white marshmallows together using a little icing.

Break the matchmakers into four pieces and insert one on each side of the bottom marshmallow to make the snowman’s arms.

Draw faces on the top marshmallow using icing pens, or use a small piece of candied peel for the nose if you have it.

Carefully press each snowman on to the top of a cupcake.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

snowman cupcakes

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Gingerbread men

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 minutes + 10 minutes baking

Serves: approx 30 men

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
100g butter
175g light muscovado sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg

 

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I would normally think of making ginger bread men at Christmas, but the kids quite like the shop bought Organix ones so during a quiet nap time recently Hannah and I made a batch. You can make it into a longer activity if you choose to decorate them. You can use shop bought coloured writing icing tubes to draw on faces, buttons and anything else you fancy.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C / 170C fan and prepare your baking trays
Get your toddler to line 3 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

Add the ingredients to a bowl
Get your child to measure the flour into a bowl. While they are doing that add the bicarbonate of soda and ginger. Weigh the butter then chop it up into a few pieces before adding it to the flour.

  
Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. This is a step that Hannah always likes getting involved with as she gets to get her hands messy.

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Get your child to measure the sugar then stir it into the flour mixture. Add the golden syrup.
Crack the egg into a separate bowl then add it to the flour (or if you’re feeling brave do it straight into your mixture).

 

Make the gingerbread men
Mix everything together until you have a smooth dough.


The recipe makes quite a lot so divide the dough in half then roll out one half on to a lightly floured work surface until its about 5mm thick.

Cut out your ginger bread men using a cutter or use any other shapes you have to hand – we tried a few different ones. Place them on your baking tray.

 

Gather up any scraps and roll out again. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake the gingerbread men
Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they become a slightly darker shade. Cool slightly then lift on to a wire rack to cool.

gingerbread men

You can enjoy the ginger bread biscuits as they are or add some icing decorations. Hannah used wee ready made icing kits to pipe on eyes, mouths, buttons etc.

gingerbread men 

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