Getting Ready for Christmas: Home Baking and Homemade Decorations

This year I’ve been busy on my own homemade Christmas (not a patch on Kirsty’s though). I failed to do the Christmas cards in time, but have had a go at some decorations and more than made up for it with the mass scale baking!

So far I have baked…
– double quantity of apricot and almond flapjack my recipe
– sour cream chocolate cake (actually for babes birthday) from Nigella’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess‘ book – cake was a success, domestic goddess bit failed.
– 24 cappuccino cupcakes (gifts and for Xmas day) nigellas recipe
– giant Quiche (for postponed birthday party) made up as I go along, not sure whats its like (I hate that, its like playing russian roulette with my pastry making skills – or lack of)
– banana bread (for Saturday night visitors) rachel alens recipe
– 12 plain cupcakes (for postponed birthday party) another nigella effort

All this within the last week – and I still have at the very least, an onion tart to make.

Decorations
So we (well mainly me), have been having a go at some natural homemade Christmas decorations this year. I like to include babe in the equation as, a) it gives me an excuse as to why they look so pants and, b) it is more likely that hubby will tolerate my shoddy craftmanship if I say that his darling daughter helped create them.

Mini natural garlands
Made by drying oranges and lemons on very low oven for 2/3hrs, drilling holes in walnuts (drill bit 5 or 6), emptying egg and spray painting gold, then stringing together with fir cones (some painted gold and bronze) with some sprigs of rosemary.

Sorry for the bad picture quality - this one resides in the bathroom

And this is what we did with the left over fir cones and cirtus fruit…

Fab Flapjack Time

I am diabolical at making pastry, I could in theory, make excellent armory with it – bullet proof shields and all. But I’m not bad at cakes, because it’s all about beating them like hell – no gentle handling required. I have recently moved into the world of flapjack, which is about as easy as it gets. Chuck stuff (butter, sugar and syrup) in pan, heat, add oats and anything else you have lying around the kitchen (baking beads, pen caps, pastry cutters etc not recommended), squidge into tin and whack in the oven for 20 minutes.

I made this first about a month ago, special for my mum because she has a Gluten allergy and it went down particularly well. Then get this, I even heard hubby the other day making noises of appreciation about my flapjack – this is a rare occasion, but symbolized to me that I should share the recipe and secret with you. I am rubbish at keeping secrets, I don’t believe in mama’s old secret recipe – if its good, share the love is my opinion.

I took one basic flapjack recipe and then did some stuff to it. I’ll tell you now that no dance to the flapjack god was involved – I tried that with the snow god and he didn’t approve (much).  The secret was all in simmering the fruit in orange juice in the microwave for 2/3 mins and leaving it to get fat for a little while – 15-30 mins is good.

Ingredients

125g/5oz dried apricots (dark organic ones are the best in this recipe) or sultanas
100ml orange juice (enough to cover the fruit above)
75g/3oz butter
50g/2oz/3tbsp golden (light corn) syrup
100g/4oz soft brown sugar
175g/6oz rolled oats
75g/3oz flaked almonds

Instructions

1) Turn oven on to 180C and grease your tin (about 8 cm square)

2) Put fruit in bowl, cover with orange juice and microwave on full heat for 2/3 minutes – then leave to stand and get fat

4) Put all butter, syrup and sugar in a pan and put on medium heat till melted – takes about 5 minutes

5) Add oats, flaked almonds and fat fruit (be sure to drain the orange juice first)- stir together then squidge into the tin (about 8 cm square)

6) Put tin in oven and cook for 20 minutes

7) When removed from oven, let it cool for 30 minutes then cut into slices. Leave till cold before taking out of the tin.

DONE – Now eat and share the flapjack love!