A christmas cake they all will eat


By 9.30am today I had had enough. Enough of the dodgy weather. Enough of the arrangements. Enough of the stress. Enough of the cooking. Enough of the making presents and enough of Spider. He is so wound up its untrue. Husband is taking this in his stride as he’s been dealing with over excited children for 20 years now, this is my first year as last year Spider didn’t really understand this christmas thing…now he does…and let me tell you, it’s hell!

I’ve also been feeling bad about letting luscious Lullabelle down. We had arranged for me to pick her Mum up and bring her to the midlands as my journey home from Reading takes me virtually past her door. But although the office was open today, they were advising staff not to drive…it was at 9.30am that I had the phone call with Lullabelle telling her that I was working from home and would her Mum mind getting a taxi to Reading station…I feel rotten, but I’m not a confident driver in bad weather in this new car, it’s so light and skittish, the old one was like a tank !

So at 9.31 I decided that was it. I was going to stop. If it hasn’t been done yet, it’s not happening. Except some mince pies and maybe some small apple ones and…no it stops here. Got some wrapping to do, but otherwise I’m not touching any of the not done presents until after the 25th – fortunately not seeing the majority of friends and relatives until after Christmas.

So as a result we have inherited the gingerbread I made for Lullabelle and I will make something fresh in the new year when I finally venture the 13 miles down to Banbury – so I’m a whimp in bad weather, but I’m an alive whimp…it is not my accident I’m afraid of it’s other people who think they can drive…

Anyway, enough winging, here is our sweet encrusted cottage – all it needs is a witch to lock over excited children up in cages, where they will be fattened up for christmas until their sister pushes the witch in the oven and they both run back through the forest to the safety of their father’s woodcutter’s cottage… hmmm, we never did get around to providing Spider with a little sister…and after today’s behaviour I don’t think we ever will !

The Woodcutter’s Tale or a bad workman blames his tools…


I have been delaying starting the christmas cooking as long as possible, because I’ve committed myself to a number of things that scare me, my Mum’s christmas present will have to wait for a later date as it’s not unknown for her to drop in on these pages from time to time (“Hello Mum” waves frantically in an interweb direction) the friend I have been cooking for this afternoon does not…so…

I have been making a lot of gingerbread lately, it’s easy to do and you can freeze the dough until you are ready to use it. When it’s cooked it will store until you are ready to decorate it and turn it into iced biscuits, christmas tree decorations or a gingerbread house.

I’d chosen to start with a very simple house. Since its made by rolling lots of “sausages of dough together which then spread on the tray and give you something resembling a log cabin I thought Spider would be interested – he also might enjoy the fact that chocolate gingerbread when uncooked looks a lot like “poo”, a substance that 4yo find hillarious…but no, ITV2 had decided to put “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on and I couldn’t entice him into the kitchen.

So I set to alone….things I have learned

  • trees consisting of 5 parts each are fiddly and time consuming to cut out and to put together
  • sheets of gingerbread made up of rolls of dough joined together have a habit of coming to pieces in your hands
  • I was right to be scared of having to play with icing…

Confession time:  I do not like icing things. Mainly because my icing set has a habit of coming to bits when faced with anything harder than cream or butter icing…today was no exception, royal icing was a step too far, I squeezed too hard and ended up with icing everywhere except on the gingerbread.

I scraped out the icing into a bowl and then dumped the icing set in the bin…should have done it years ago…

Continuing with a palate knife and some hot water I just about managed to get the house to stick together and disguised a lot of the crumb that now littered the plate by sprinkling the lot with icing sugar snow – ahhh, finished, but wait, wasn’t the cottage meant to be surrounded by trees ? How on earth can I stick the trees together when i can’t pipe a thin line of icing ?

Fortunately there was a teenager around, a teenager who likes playing with food…Teenager introduced me to the joy of microwaved sweet sugar glue which we smeared over as many of the tree pieces we could and bunged them on the plate – covering our bodging with even more sugar snow…Teenager was pleased to accept the remains of the gingerbread and the flakes in payment for his inspiration and went away happy…I collapsed with a pint of tea !

It looks very much as if Spider made it with my help…if people assume that I won’t tell them otherwise…tomorrow I’m shopping for icing equipment I can rely on as the next 2 cakes involve much more icing.

It’s a wrap

Last night I had a happy potter around the kitchen and made the Toffee Brownies – verdict ? Very rich, very addictive. Raspberry goes so well with chocolate. Not too sure about the toffee, think next time I might use some form of commercial toffee bits as I prefer my toffee a bit chewy and more caramel in taste.

Hidden Brownies
Hidden Brownies

Forgot to take a photo of these before I cut them up into small pieces for delivery to the lovely Mrs Zee and Mrs OD  – Mrs Zee is the main reason I can relax over Christmas and forget about my finances (despite the fact I paid too much off the credit card this month and am back to watching the pennies until payday), Mrs OD has been introducing colour back into my life with large doses of purple objects appearing on my desk…

Anyway hidden beneath the pink there are Brownies – the recipe says cut the tin into 15 pieces, these are very rich – I would recommend more pieces of a smaller size…would I do this recipe again, yes as a variation but I’m begining to think that its hard to beat my favourite Nigel Slater Brownie recipe…

Today has been quite quiet on the cooking front, but  large doses of Ikea has left me considering baking some cookie decorations for the tree and perhaps making a gingerbread house…what I will be doing this weekend is making a ginger cake as my entry into the office Christmas cake competition – the question is, which ginger cake ?

The main event today was watching Spider be 1 of 2 kings in the nativity (3rd king was a victim of budgetary pressures), I was in tears, for no reason, I mean there he was just being Spider, happy vivacious little Spider, and I’m in tears watching his love of life – it’s so weird this Mummy lark !