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12 Days of Christmas – Homemade Cards

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Generally when it comes to Christmas I’m not at all organised.  This year I’m pretty impressed with myself, I’ve got all of my presents bought, wrapped and most of my homemade presents are finished.  Now all that’s left to do is count the days I have left of work before the holidays – ONE DAY LEFT!

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Whilst we’re on the subject of present wrapping I wanted to show you the theme I went with this year.  As mentioned in the last Mid-week Moment post the colour scheme was gold and white, a change from my usual red and white.  It was the tags that inspired the whole look, which were bought in Fortnum and Mason, only to be found a few weeks later much cheaper in John Lewis, where I found the wrapping paper.  I was delighted when I spotted the wrapping paper because it is exactly what I wanted.  The only problem is it was a nightmare to wrap, the glitter goes everywhere!  It was worth it though, look how pretty they look.  So sorry to everyone whose floor I mess up on Christmas day!

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Christmas cards are always my downfall and I’m certainly never organised to be able to use second class stamps, those people whose cards you receive on the 5th of December, that will never be me!  As always, I’m late with my cards this year too, but they are homemade for the first time so I think that excuses any tardiness. (more…)

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12 Days of Christmas – Mince Pies

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Bringing you a quick and easy recipe today, because sometimes you need mince pies NOW!  I’m sure that’s not just me.

I had bought a jar or mincemeat to make an apple and mincemeat crumble, after one of my friends had it for dessert when we were out to dinner the other day, and I had some left over.  Also, whilst in the supermarket earlier in the day I was compelled to buy two packets of ready rolled puff pastry which was on special offer.  So it seems I was destined to make these mince pies.

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12 Days of Christmas – Gingerbread Cupcakes

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Gingerbread is one of my favourite types of cake.  I’m not even that fussy about it being homemade, McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger Cake is amazing with a spread of butter on top.  Home baked is best though, especially when paired with this nutty, caramel-y brown butter frosting – delicious!

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I baked these cupcakes this past weekend for the Glasgow Baking Club Christmas meet up, which was a very lovely Sunday afternoon round at Bex beautiful flat!  It was just a small gathering of us this week but that made for a cosy chat around the kitchen table with good laughs and great cake. It was fun to see some of Bex decorations in ‘real life’ too after reading about them on her blog, they looked fab!

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My favourite part about these cute little cakes is the way they look.  I spotted those tartan cupcake cases in Paperchase last week and snapped them up right away.  The only problem with the dark gingerbread is that you don’t pick up on the tartan too well, next time I would probably double line them with a white coloured case first so the tartan would show up better. (more…)

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12 Days of Christmas – Stollen

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On the second day of Christmas, Bake Good gave to me…Stollen!  Yeah, not exactly how the song goes but you get the picture.  Don’t worry, I won’t make that joke for all twelve posts, I don’t think anyway.

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My mum had requested I make stollen when I’m back home for Christmas, so I thought I better get a practice run in beforehand to avoid disappointment.  As usual, I brought this in to work to save eating the whole loaf myself, which could have happened because it tastes amazing!  To my surprise, although it went down well, almost nobody had actually heard of stollen before.  I assumed everyone had this in their cupboards at Christmas but perhaps it was just my family!  Basically it is a dense, sweet fruit bread filled with marzipan.  According to my sources (read: Wikipedia) it is originally from Germany.

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There were various recipes, some using plain flour and some with bread flour, different levels of spice, different fruits, with and without nuts.  Complicated.  So I went with one of my kitchen idols Delia….and then went ahead and changed it to suit the ingredients I’d bought!  As per a Nigel Slated recipe, I added cardamom  which was a really nice touch of soft fragrant spice that seemed to pair very well with the sultanas, cranberry and apricot.  This loaf is a little lighter than the shop bought alternative, which is a good thing in my opinion, and is further enhanced by a light toasted before serving.

If you’ve never had stollen before I hope you give it a try and an alternative baked treat this Christmas! (more…)

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12 Days of Christmas – Homemade Vanilla Extract

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So Christmas is here in a big way.  I’ve spent the weekend doing some of my favourite thing about the festive period – spending time with friends, decorating trees, visiting a Christmas fair, making presents and, of course, baking.  I spent this weekend with a couple of friends and we had a wonderfully festive time buying and decorating a tree.  Despite my controlling ways threatening to dampen spirits (sometimes I just can’t help myself)  we were all pleased with the end result.

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Over the next few weeks I have a collection of twelve seasonal recipes and gift ideas for you to try out, hence the ever so clever title of this series ’12 Days of Christmas’.  These are mostly homemade foodie gifts but I’m also going to attempt my own cards this year.

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First up is DIY Vanilla Extract, a very simple but practical gift for any of your baker friends.  The most difficult part for me was purchasing the alcohol as a non-drinker – there is A LOT of choice out there when you don’t really know what you’re looking for!

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I got these cute little bottles and the vanilla pods on Amazon.  The alcohol is up to you, vodka, rum or bourbon would all work here, I chose dark rum because I wasn’t really sure what Bourbon was and the rum, which I know my family enjoy, was on offer! (more…)

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