With the Great British Bake Off becoming a distant memory, and Christmas fast approaching it will soon be time to dust off our own aprons, switch on the oven and get mixing.
With so many sweet temptations to choose from how do you decide what to serve up this year? Would Christmas not be the same without your traditional Christmas cake, or are you looking for something new to leave out for Santa and Rudolph on Christmas Eve?
Whether you are baking alone, or with the family; have time on your hands to create a real show-stopper, or looking for a quick fix; we have our favourite picks for the festive period.
A Christmas staple in a lot of homes, this easy recipe from Good Housekeeping is a great option for baking with little ones. The cookies smell and taste delicious and whether you want some cute gingerbread men, little stars like these, or ornaments to hang on the tree; the recipe is the same - you just need a cookie cutter (and some icing to decorate).
- 75g butter
- 3 1/2tbsp golden syrup
- 60g light soft brown sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tsp ground ginger
- Add butter, golden syrup and light brown sugar to a pan. Stir on a low heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Add flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger to a mixing bowl then stir together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the sugar and butter mixture.
- Stir together to form a dough (it might be easiest to use your hands).
- Wrap in clingfilm and let chill for 30mins to firm up.
- Lay the dough between two sheets of baking parchment. Press dough lightly with a rolling pin. Give a quarter turn than repeat.
- Give it a final quarter turn, then start to roll backwards and forwards, giving regular quarter turns. Until dough is roughly thickness of a £1 coin.
- Using a biscuit cutter cut out the shapes. Bake at 190°C (170°C fan) mark 5 for 10 to 12min, until lightly golden brown.
- The biscuits won't be firm but will harden when left to cool outside the oven.
This is another fantastic option for baking with children - especially when it comes to the decoration. A simple search on Google will provide you with countless flavours, as well as hundreds of ideas and designs from melting snowmen (just like Olaf) to really effective Christmas trees.
For the easiest decorations though, you could try some of our festive cupcake toppers available on our website here. We have a wide range of designs, including that cheeky chap that is always up to some mischief - the Elf on the Shelf. Alternatively you can upload your own photos or pictures and design your own cake toppers.
Rich, decadent, chocolatey goodness - flavoured with rum, your favourite liqueur or splash out on champagne, this is definitely NOT one for the kids. Easier to make than you might think, just melt dark chocolate, mix with 1/2 the amount of double cream and leave to cool. Once set you can roll into balls and coat with cocoa powder, coconut or even cover in smooth white chocolate.
These would make the perfect gift for a friend, to nibble on in front of a Christmas movie, or a special treat for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Simple to make and even simpler to decorate with A4 printed icing from My Cupcake Toppers. We tried a great recipe from Wilton (find it here) to make our sugar cookies, and then decorated them with an A4 icing sheet that had been printed with Christmas patterns and cut to the same size and shape. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, flooding icing cookies is all the rage just now, filling up Pinterest quicker than anything else. A little tricky to get the hang of, but once you get to grips with the technique you can get the most beautiful results.
Baking a panettone from scratch can be quite a daunting challenge, so we are lucky that many traditional Italian restaurants in the UK fill up their shelves with the real thing for us to buy and enjoy. An Italian sweet bread loaf that originates in Milan, panettone contains candied orange, citron, and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked. Many other variations are available such as plain or with chocolate and it's usually served in wedge shapes, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine.
That said, it is also amazing cut up into slices and turned into bread and butter pudding. I can personally vouch for that!
Every year at Christmas when I was growing up, my mum used to make our Christmas cake months in advance and feed it brandy every week religiously. A walnut cake with white fluffy icing was also served alongside, and it was always the hardest decision to make choosing which to have. Obviously the answer now is both, but that wasn't allowed back then.
Whether you are a traditionalist with a rich fruit cake, a chocoholic with a yule log, or a master in the kitchen turning out a real showstopper, every home should be serving up a proper cake at Christmas.
We would love to hear what bakes come out of the oven in your house around Christmas time. Is it something traditional that you have always had, or do you like to get creative and try new things? Are they specific to where you live, or do you look further afield for inspiration? And are they for just you, or do you prefer to spread the Christmas cheer and share with all your friends and family?