Christmas Baking for the Seniors Lunch Club
The first batch of mince pies, using home made Mincemeat (vegan) and a Swiss Roll for those who don't like dried fruits. This is what we ate as cake last week, when I also made the Gingerbread Houses as part of the table display for the Lunch Club.
Have a look at my recipe for home made mincemeat, November this year, and for mince pies, December last year, if you want to know how to make them. They really are so much nicer than shop bought ones.
I made a Chocolate Swiss Roll - sort of a Yule Log - in December last year and a plain Swiss Roll, like this one with home made jam, in April this year, so please have a look in the archive for the recipes if you're inspired. I will make this Swiss Roll again soon to serve as the cake basis for my Christmas Trifle - it seems to work better than making pieces of sponge and spreading them with jam, and does look lovely in a glass bowl.
When I made my German Oktoberfest hearts, I said I would use the construction grade, very hard gingerbread to make the Gingerbread House at Christmas. Have a look at my recipe from 18th September for the details. I used a half quantity of gingerbread dough and rolled it quite thin. I made a cardboard template for the houses first, to check the sizes, and then cut out the gingerbread round the templates. I did three houses, knowing that several pieces would break on the way, and in fact some did but were mendable so I was able to make all three cottages.
I let the gingerbread cool, and then made one-egg-white quantity of royal icing and started construction. I began with the chimneys as the smallest and fiddliest bits and let them dry firm. Then I decorated the fronts and backs of the houses as I knew they would be better done when I could lie them flat. As you can see I used candy cane sticks to outline the doorways and iced round the windows. I let it all harden slightly and then began the main construction. The royal icing hardened quite quickly and didn't need much help or holding pieces together. I then stuck the chimneys on the houses and started decorating in earnest.
I did another one-egg-white quantity of royal icing and coloured some green, some pink and left some white. I used jelly beans, sprinkles, smarties and coloured popped rice to decorate but you could choose anything you like. The only thing is that you have to get it onto the royal icing quite quickly or the sweets/sprinkles won't stick, so ice a little bit at a time, decorate that, and move on to the next part. You can have quite outrageous fun with the colours and shapes - just do what feels right!
The houses are quite sturdy and I wrapped them in clingfilm to take to my Seniors Lunch Club where they were much enjoyed, along with some candles and holly on the table to illustrate our theme of Advent this week. Our memories of advent were varied - some of the group are regular churchgoers and love the candle lit church at this time of year. Others remembered helping with the Christmas baking, and we all remembered the early style of advent calendars, which just had pictures behind the doors and no chocolate. We agreed that the chocolate ones are a big step forward!
I think the houses will last until Christmas and beyond as lovely table centrepiece decorations - not sure about eating them but you can always make some stars or little biscuits for eating with the off cuts of gingerbread. Or make some proper Christmas biscuits?
Some Changes - April 2022
Thanks to my friends and followers for your patience, and for your encouragement to start blogging again.