Monday, 10 December 2012

bah humbug

so i'm feeling a little overwhelmed by christmas and paralysed by my To Do list. i can't figure out where to start and how to prioritise my tasks. they are all fun christmasey tasks but they do need to get done. i foolishly agreed to bake 80 mince pies and 40 cookies for the local preschool because i'm on the committee and haven't done anything all year. we are having a christmas drinks party so i'll need lots of mince pies for that... plus extra for general consumption over the next few weeks. 
we are hosting christmas this year. i have never cooked a christmas lunch or christmas pudding so it's all a new adventure. with a huge list of ingredients, i did look longingly at the £5 christmas puddings in tesco today and think why not? why not just buy one? how easy would that be? why torture yourself with having to make one? but i couldn't do it. something in me said it HAD to be homemade. as with the pizzas for the kids at our house party... why not buy pizzas.. i couldn't bring myself to do it... and the granola and bread for the christmas period..... so now i'm left looking at mountains of ingredients and zero baking-labido... help!
i have a headache and sore throat and feel totally unmotivated to do anything other than sit on the sofa and watch tv... while maybe writing and re-writing the odd To Do list. i will get an early night and tackle it all afresh tomorrow. sorry for the bah humbug blog post.

to help me feel better (and more in control) i will at least start by recording here the recipes i have chosen for my first few baking exploits.

mince pies:

pastry (makes 12)
rub together with finger tips: 200g flour (sifted), 120g chilled unsalted butter and 40g caster sugar, (optional - 75g ground almonds) until the mix resembles breadcrumbs
gently stir in 1 large egg, then push together to make a pastry ball
add a few drops of water if micx is too dry to stick together
wrap pastry in cling film and put in fridge for at least 1 hour

to make the pies:
roll out the pastry and cut with a round cookie cutter
put the pastry rounds in a cupcake tin and add a large teaspoon of mincemeat
cover the top with a smaller round or a star shape
brush with a little milk on the lid of the pies and put in the fridge for 40mins
bake at 180C for 20mins

here are last year's pies. they were a hit. 
let's hope i can get some mince pie mojo tomorrow and start baking!

Here's is the BBC Rich Christmas Pudding i'm going to attempt:

Make this pudding a couple of months (2 weeks will have to do!) before Christmas day. Feed it with booze regulary for the flavours to develop.
  • Ingredients

    225g/8oz golden caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz vegetarian suet
  • 340g/12oz sultanas
  • 340g/12oz raisins
  • 225g/8oz currants
  • 110g/4oz candied peel, chopped
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 55g/2oz flaked almonds
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 5g/1 level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 150ml/5fl oz brandy

Preparation method

  1. Lightly grease 4x600ml/1 pint or 2x1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basins.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the eggs and brandy and mix well.
  4. Spoon the mix into basins. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string. Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it is easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking.

    Wrapping a pudding for steaming
    2:01 mins
  5. Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary. If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before.
  6. Cool. Change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a cool cupboard until Christmas Day.
  7. To serve, steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, rum sauce, cream or homemade custard.


  1. Oh, Becca! I am so in awe of you and your creativity and productiveness!! As always, I'm glad to hear that you are really human!
    It seems to me that you've already done lots of lovely Christmassy things - bought and decorated a beautiful tree, made glittery decorations, etc. And Christmas is still a while give yourself a few days to cool off, have a bath/pedicure/movie/all of the above, and come back to it all in a few days.
    And know that you'll get there and on Boxing Day be able to relax with that glow of pride that you did it all wonderfully!

  2. yes you're right Rach. thank you! time just flies when there isn't much of it that's not filled with the kids. am going to attempt to have fun making mince pies with M today. and yes just relax a little too :) i don't want christmas to be stressful - it should be the opposite right! a nice bath, pedicure etc is just what i need.... :) love xx


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