Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Big Christmas Bake Off ..... part one!

And so it begins!

In previous years I’ve gone all out baking all sorts of pastry nibbles and canapés, and of course sausage rolls.  Last year I decided that enough was enough and it was time to cut back.  We don’t really want all those rich and calorie laden snacks.  With all the rich food that abounds at Christmas, all I craved last year was fresh fruit.  For some peculiar reason I had an insatiable craving for oranges – which I hadn’t eaten whole for years!

This year’s Christmas baking is considerably reduced, and much easier to tackle.

I’m going to make a Stollen, which I love.  I’ll cut it into three pieces before freezing as it doesn’t keep terribly well.

I’ll make and freeze some of Delia’s fabulous savoury palmiers.  I made them last year and they were delicious.

I’ll also make a pate to freeze for my Mum & Dad.

I’ll make and freeze ahead a lovely stuffing roll.  My friend Julia gave me the idea for this last year and I adjusted it to my own personal taste.  It’s bacon, sausage and stuffing accompaniment all in one.  Even better, you can slice up the leftover and have it in a bun with the leftover turkey in the days after Christmas.

Rather than have a whole Christmas cake hanging around ad infinitum, I’ll make a 1lb loaf of bara brith in the few days before Christmas, marzipan and ice it on Christmas Eve.

Hubby doesn’t like Christmas pudding, and to be honest I’m so stuffed after my lunch that for the last number of years I haven’t wanted anything so rich and heavy.  Last year I made Delia’s Cranberry Queen of Puddings – although I left out the spices as I prefer the crisp tart flavour of cranberries.

For the first baking day though I concentrated on Stollen, and my bacon and stuffing roll.  I also made my first ever pumpkin pie as Hubby and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving this year!  As if that wasn’t enough, I promised a good friend that I’d make a batch of faggots as well so that was going on as well!

If I’m honest, the thought of spending a day in the kitchen, pottering quietly, gives me nothing but pleasure.  Although I do need to get myself ruthlessly organised beforehand! 

I had written myself a list (of course!) of what I need to do, and what ingredients are needed and got those all ready.  Then, to dovetail the operations most efficiently, I attempted to tackle the jobs in the most logical way.  Usually, the soundtrack to my Christmas baking days is Christmas carols, but I just can’t bring myself to do that until 1st December so for today it’s the soundtrack to Love Actually – which always reminds me of Christmas!

First job on the list was to prepare the pecan pastry and filling for my first ever Pumpkin Pie.  I cut down on the spices in this as neither hubby nor I are very keen on strongly spiced sweet dishes.

Second job was to prepare my stollen.  This is one of my favourite Christmas sweets and the recipe is from my original Delia Christmas cookbook, which has seen 20 years service this year!  Again, thank you Auntie!!  I’m cutting it into three as it doesn’t keep terribly well out of the freezer.

The third job on the list was sausage and bacon stuffing roll.  I’ve made this ahead of time as we decided to do Thanksgiving this year so we had half of the roll for that and the rest has gone into the freezer for Christmas lunch.  I’m stuffing and rolling a turkey breast joint for Christmas lunch so the bacon stuffing roll will just be a side.

Finally, faggots.  Very much an acquired taste, but I know a few people who love them and they are next to no effort to make.  I promised a friend of mine I’d make them and he’s been salivating ever since!  My Uncle and Father have also been looking forward to them.  Very economical to make, just ox liver, breadcrumbs, onion, sage and suet – and seasoning of course!  They are messy rather than laboursome.  Lazily, rather than shape little rounds, I just tip the entire bowlful into my roasting tin and cut into squares when cooked!

And that was that!  A spot of clearing up and then feet up with a cup of tea! 

Hubby rewarded me for my hard work with a whirlwind trip to London!

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