This year I've been a bit more prepared than I usually am and have been ahead of the curve on the baking front with Christmas food. Of course it helps that I'm at home and therefore able to prepare food while my son is either at nursery or sleeping, rather than after a day at work and a horrid commute. On cold days like these I prefer to be in the kitchen weighing out sugar and rifling through the cupboard for a suitable baking tin to line for delicious fudge.
Which brings me neatly to the first recipe with I found courtesy of a lovely friend who directed me to the BBC food website where I found Sophie Dahl's recipe for Peanut Butter fudge which is really simple and requires very few ingredients, but enough sugar to make you diabetic with one bite !
The only difficulty was in finding a suitable jar to put it in for gifts, but once I'd located these it was all good. Oh, that was until I discovered that one of my intended recipients has a nut allergy so I've had to rethink that - I mean how selfish is that ?
Homemade sweets are a great luxury item and presented in a lovely glass jar makes them even more of a treat so I'm dead chuffed that I haven't scoffed the lot as the recipe make a lot of fudge - even for someone as greedy as me !
I had a bit more of a trial with the Christmas cake. I mentioned in a previous foodie post that I bought a mix from Waitrose that I've used twice before - it's been a bit hit and miss for me in the past as it's taken so long, but this time the box said it would take 2-3 hours so I had high hopes - even with an unpredictable oven that I've blamed in the past.
We had a rare night out planned and my sister was coming to babysit so I popped the cake mix into the oven around 2pm thinking it would be done in plenty of time. When it was still soggy 4 hours later I was becoming more than a little concerned that we would have to miss the Idiot Bastard Band to stay in and watch my cake not cooking ! Instead I left the oven on low and gave instructions to switch it off whatever happened after 5 hours had passed.
It did look ok eventually (if a little damp on the bottom, but less said about that the better) so I turned it out onto a board and covered it in marzipan and icing and my traditional snowmen decorations and festive ribbon. All I can do now is hope that when we finally cut into it the middle isn't gruesome !
Then this week I finally got round to making some mince pies and used up the marzipan that was left from the cake as mini stars for the topping of the puff pastry fancies. They're ok, but not quite as neat as I'd hoped they'd look. They taste fine, but I did already buy some fancy ones just in case my homemade ones weren't quite up to scratch. I have a bit of mincemeat left in the jar so I might do some festive palmiers based on the recipe I saw that uses marmalade and brown sugar - I'll let you know how they turn out when I finally get round to them.
So these are the advance guard of the food prep. In a week I'll be making the stuff that won't keep so well. Sausage rolls (meat and veggie) the aforementioned palmiers and the gingerbread stars that I hope my son will help decorate. His budding culinary skills were at the fore today as he created the taste sensation of chow mein with onion bagel (surprisingly good) and then stabbed the leftover bagel half and announced it was a 'helicopter' (propeller).
I may just let him plan our Christmas meal. My lad is a gastro-genius !