Christmas is a great time to head to the kitchen to prepare some home-made gifts, particularly when the children break up from school and need a bit of entertaining.
The gingerbread recipe below is so easy and can be made into Christmas shapes using Christmas cutters (available from most supermarkets), decorated with icing and sprinkles, which can then be placed into cellophane bags or small gift boxes tied with ribbon. If the biscuits have a hole made at the top before cooking then a ribbon can be threaded through and they can be hung on the Christmas tree as decorations.
350g plain flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsp ground ginger
100g butter, at room temperature
175g soft brown sugar
4 level tbsp. golden syrup
1 medium egg, beaten
300g icing sugar
A few tsp cold water
- Grease 3 baking sheets and preheat the oven to Gas 5, 190°C.
- Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl, rub in the butter to resemble breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar.
- Beat the syrup into the egg and stir into the flour mixture. Mix to form a dough and then knead until smooth on a floured worktop.
- Roll out to a thickness of ½cm and using Chrismas cutters e.g. stars, bells, snowmen, santas etc cut out the biscuits and place onto the baking trays (the mixture can be re-rolled several times so no wasted mixture). If making tree decorations, make a hole in the top with a cocktail stick, big enough to thread ribbon through
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, transfer to a rack to cool.
- Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough cold water to make a thick icing which can be spread on to the biscuits. Decorate with sprinkles and leave to set before packing into bags.
My Tip for Cooking a Moist Fresh Turkey
Years ago I discovered a Christmas book by Josceline Dimbleby who recommended cooking a turkey covered with buttered muslin (muslin can be bought in kitchen shops or fabric shops). I have used this method ever since for cooking a fresh turkey as it keeps the bird moist and adds lovely flavour.
On Christmas Eve, melt 225g butter in a pan. Take enough muslin to cover the bird in a double layer and dip the muslin in the butter so that it is all absorbed. Put the bird in a roasting tin and lay the buttered muslin over it. Leave in a cool place.
On Christmas Day preheat oven to Gas 3, 170°C, cook the turkey for 3-3½ hours for 8-14lb bird. Three quarters of an hour before the end of the cooking time remove the muslin to expose the bird and pour a glass of white wine into the pan. Test the bird in the thickest part of the leg with a skewer and if the juices run clear it is cooked. Transfer the bird to a warm serving plate to rest and make the gravy using the juices in the pan. Whilst the bird is resting the oven temperature can be turned up to cook the roast potatoes.
About Our Expert Contributor
Wendy Strang has been working as a consultant Home Economist/Food Stylist for over 20 years for a variety of food and appliance manufacturers, writing recipes, styling food for stills photography and film for advertising and editorial purposes. Wendy also gets involved with cookery demonstrations for appliance and houseware companies. Prior to working on a freelance basis She was Head office Home Economist for Iceland Frozen Foods and before that for Kraft Foods. Wendy has recently been on the judging panel for The Grocer Own label Food and Drink Awards and been developing recipes for Whitworths and Pyrex PR.