A little bit of seasonal pottering in the kitchen and a round up of our favourite Yuletide recipes…..

almond biscuits 005

I know not everyone likes pottering about in the kitchen but I’ve always enjoyed using my time in there to mark the seasons…we try to eat seasonally with our vegetables and I find my baking or jam making shifts accordingly too…..I’m always happy to try out new recipes but over the past some years I find myself returning to the following tried and trusted recipes, which for us, have become a big part of our seasonal celebrations….I’m currently writing up a selection* of our favourite recipes as part of a Christmas/New Year present for some friends that live a really long way away which means we only get to see them very occaisonally… (I thought they could add to what we send with favourite recipes from their family)….I’ve gone through the things we like the most and thought I’d round them all up and put links to them here tooo which makes it easier to share them with other people too….

Citrussy almond biscuits…..(light and delicate and all citrussy, these aren’t only nice and refreshing but if you get a gippy tummy at all or wake up a bit nauseus due to overindulging rather the night before then they seem to very good at helping to calm down the flutters)

marmalade 006

While you probably won’t see the seville oranges pre Christmas, for some reason I always think of this as a Christmas make…..the smell of those oranges is so wonderful and fresh…just watch out for little bears who may want you to make them a sandwich…..

A slow simmering marmalade…..

gingerbread man 003

You can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man…sticky and dark or crisp and biscuitty…I love both versions of gingerbread…the spicier the better….

dark and sticky…slowly filling the house with good smells while it bakes….

crisp and biscuitty…good for building houses and cutting little figures from…

homemade mincepies

I love mincemeat, the smell of it wafting up throughout the house while the fruit is simmering away on the stove is such an evocative Christmassy smell….while I have a really silly amount of different recipes for making it, these are the two I find I use more than any other…..

mincemeat made with cider…..

mincemeat made with vegetable suet….

breakfast buns

And I don’t just save mincemeat for the mince pies….. a good old dollop or two of mincemeat makes for an instant fruity loaf if you fancy baking some bread, and if you enrich the dough with butter milk and eggs you can easily make a sort of panettone style mufffin…..I also like adding a heaped spoonful or two of mincemeat into a plum or apple crumble……

It also works well in this recipe for fruity breakfast buns…..so good with salty butter and a smear of dark jam…..but you could also use it in a dough mix for hot cross bun style buns…..

And if you have bits of pastry left after making any mincepies then this recipe for tiny spiced biscuits makes use of every last scrap……

cinnamon swirl biscuits…..

Hope you enjoy baking and cooking these as much as we do……….

*The book will include recipes that we regularly cook and bake such as casseroles and breads, cakes etc but will also include recipes for jams and jellys, furniture polish and hand salves…..

Ridiculously easy and quick but very nice to eat Cinnamon biscuits….

cinnamon biscuits

 

 

Generally at least once a week I find myself making pastry for a pie, sometimes savory, sometimes to cover apples or fruit.  Inevitably I always make a bit too much and rather than put it in the compost (it’s a Japanese one with bran so won’t encourage mice) I tend to make a little batch of these cinnamon biscuits….they are so ridiculously easy to make and bake on a tray on the shelf below the pie…..

I’ve found it even quicker to have a jar of cinnamon sugar to hand so I have less jars to open (that makes me sound very lazy but I tend to do these while I’m cooking tea and less jars out mean less overall clutter and a bit more space in an already small kitchen.)

 

Cinnamon sugar 

In a decent sized clean jam jar, fill about halfway with soft brown sugar.  Then add some caster sugar (golden or white, it doesn’t matter), I use about half the amount of the brown sugar.  Then add a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon.  Put the lid on and give it a good shake up and down so the ingredients are properly mixed.

 

The world’s quickest Cinnamon Biscuits

ingredients

some pastry dough*

(when I make dough I usually use the cake and pastry flour from Shipton Mill but plain is fine)

cinnamon sugar

light olive oil, or melted butter if you have the time to melt some.

method

Roll out your dough, I find rolling pastry out between two pieces of clingfilm stops me having to add too much flour to the dough, the pastry can be rolled out pretty thinly.  Try to keep the pastry squares, if it gets a bit odd shaped, remove the top piece of clingfilm, cut the pastry and lay the pieces over each other then clingfilm over and roll out so it’s sort of oblongy ….it doesn’t have to be exact….remove the top piece of clingfilm, lay it down and sprinkle with a little flour, turn the pastry over and peel off the second piece of clingfilm.

Brush over some light olive oil (or if you have time, melt a little butter…it doesn’t make a big difference in taste to be honest) and then sprinkle over a generous layer of the cinnamon sugar. Briefly flatten it down and evenly spread it.

Fold up the pastry along the edge closest to you (it will roll up off the floured clingfilm pretty easily.)  Dab a little olive oil along the top and roll a bit more so it becomes like a swiss roll.  Add oil accordingly.  When you get to the end, tuck the bottom underneath.

With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into slices on the diagonal.  Place on a baking parchment lined tray and bake in the oven, I find gas 6 for about 20 minutes is good on the second shelf but it depends on what you are baking already.  Check after 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.

I think reading the instructions takes longer than making them……these are so super quick and my boyfriend can wolf down half a dozen in the blink of an eye.

 

I use half butter and half t-rex when I make pastry, if I have them I also add a beaten egg (saving a little back to coat the pie top) but if not I just use chilled water from the fridge.

Once the flour and fats have been “bread crumbed” together, I quickly add the eggs/water, mix with a butter knife and then divide the pastry in to two balls, flattening them both between my hands and then wrap them in clingfilm and rest them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  Flattening the dough out a bit makes it a whole lot easier when it comes to rolling it out, especially when you then roll the dough out between two layers of clingfilm*

*thank you Raymond Blanc for that tip.