With the weather being so grey and dreary, this time of year is the perfect excuse to stay home, keep warm in the kitchen and try out your baking skills. Whether you want to present your loved ones with handmade gifts, enjoy quality time with the kids, create party food or simply want the mouth-watering smell of festive baking to spread throughout your home, why not try some of these easy Christmas baking recipes? Pop on some festive tunes and get cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Stained Glass Biscuits
These festively shaped treats look fantastic hung on the Christmas tree as well as being deliciously moreish too. While the stained-glass centre looks stunning, they are surprisingly simple to create using a packet of boiled sweets.
Create your biscuit mix by creaming 150g of butter with 100g of sugar (light muscovado or golden caster sugar work best), then add one large egg and mix thoroughly. Slowly sift in 25g of plain flour and one teaspoon of baking powder. Then add your favourite Christmas spices, this could be one teaspoon of mixed spice, ginger or cinnamon. Also, add one teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix to create a biscuit dough.
Roll out the biscuit dough onto a floured surface, so the mix is 1cm thick. Using two cutters of the same shape, one smaller than the other, cut the biscuits out with the bigger cutter, then cut a hole in the biscuit with the smaller cutter. Place each biscuit onto a lined baking tray. Pop a boiled sweet in the hole of each biscuit. If you’d like a mix of colours, crush the boiled sweets and layer your chosen colours in the space.
Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes at 180C. Once the biscuits are golden brown with the sweet melted, take the biscuits out to cool. At this point, you can create a hole, if you want to hang them up. When cool and the sweet has hardened, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. You can then decorate the biscuits further with icing. Then hang your biscuits, if you can resist eating them.
Mulled Wine Brownies
A fancy, decadent and very adult take on a brownie; who can resist?
After preheating the oven to 180C; grease and line a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin. Create the batter with 100g of plain flour, 50g of cocoa powder, a pinch of salt and a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves. In another bowl, beat in 150g of butter and 200g of golden caster sugar until the mix is light and fluffy. Then add one large egg and one extra egg yolk. Add the wet mix, 100g of melted dark chocolate and 100ml of red wine to the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 15-20 minutes. The brownie should feel just set, with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool, if you can resist! Serve the brownie warm with a dollop of thick cream.
If you’re fed up with mince pies, this mincemeat baklava is a new twist on an old classic.
Mix together one jar of your favourite mincemeat with 100g of chopped pistachios, 100g of ground almonds and the zest of one orange. Add a pinch of salt, stir thoroughly and set aside.
Grease a baking tin then press one sheet of filo pastry into the tin. Brush the pastry with melted butter. Continue to layer pastry and butter into the tin until you’ve used one pack of filo. Then, evenly spread your mincemeat mixture over the pastry. Then continue layering filo and melted butter on top, until you’ve used up another pack of filo pastry. Brush the top generously with melted butter.
Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines deeply into the pastry to create a diamond pattern. Bake for one hour at 160C.
While the baklava is baking, make a syrup from 75ml of water, 150g of sugar and two tablespoons of orange liqueur or brandy. When the baklava is baked, pour the syrup over the top. Increase the oven temperature to 180C and cook for a further five minutes.
Leave to cool and serve in the pre-cut diamond pieces.
Make sure you have all dietary requirements covered with these cute dairy-free gingerbread people.
Soak one tablespoon of chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water. Leave for ten minutes until the mix if gloopy. Rub together 400g of plain flour with 200g of coconut oil, until the oil seems to disappear. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of ground ginger and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the chia seed mix, 50g of maple syrup, 200g of dark muscovado sugar and two tablespoons of water. Blend until smooth. Add to the flour and knead well.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out your chosen gingerbread shapes. Bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes until slightly darker at the edges. Leave to cool.
Create your icing by mixing the icing sugar with a splash of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then transfer to a piping bag ready for you to decorate your shapes. You can also add vegan sweets such as Jelly Tots for decoration too.
If you prefer savoury festive treats, then a whisky baked camembert is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. What’s more, it’s really quick and easy to prepare too.
Cut into the top of a round of camembert. Pour over a tablespoon or two of whisky then top with 25g of mixed nuts, and a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of maple syrup over the top and then bake in the oven at 220C for 20 minutes. Serve with freshly toasted bread and crudités.