The Christmas Holidays are soon approaching and being a family business we know how hard it can be to find things to keep the children occupied at the best of times let alone when they are excited for the festivities to come. We have collected together some of our family favourite makes and bakes to help you out with ideas and made a selection of colouring sheets, activity sheets and games to print out and enjoy.
If you haven’t already heard about our 2021 Colouring competition to win a personalised letter for your children from Santa compliments of RJC Designs then you can find more information on that here.
Our family favourite Christmas Recipies
We have over the years tried many different Gingerbread recipes but this one has been best for making our houses and best taste.
This recipe originally came from my mother in law’s Good housekeeping recipe book.
We have done houses of various sizes over the years but always simplistic designs however, if you’re into trying something more complex this will still work and templates can be found online for all sorts of different designs.
700g Plain white flour
10ml Bicarbonate of soda
20ml ground ginger (we also replace this for fresh ginger when making biscuits)
220g butter or block marg
350g soft light brown sugar
120 ml golden syrup
- Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl
- Rub in the butter until you create crumbs
- Stir in the sugar and then make a well in the centre of the mixed ingredients
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and syrup.
- Pour the syrup mixture into the well of the dry ingredients.
- Mix to create a dough
- knead the dough until smooth then wrap up airtight and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (we leave it overnight)
- divide the dough into 2, put one half to one side and split the 1st half into two again and roll out to fit your template. Repeat until you have made all 4 sides and both roof pieces.
- Cut out windows as you go, adding any excess dough into the unused dough to be incorporated until you have all your house pieces and any excess can be turned into gingerbread men (or ladies or reindeer by turning your basic gingerbread man shape upside down so the “legs” become the antlers).
- Line baking trays with greaseproof paper and carefully transfer your gingerbread pieces to them. Add the crushed hard boiled sweets at this point in the window holes if you are wanting glass windows.
- Bake at 190c fan gas mark 5 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- Leave on the sheet to cool for a few minutes before replacing templates back on and trimming if required and removing to cool leave to cool overnight before trying to construct your house.
Decorate your pieces the next day before construction off all the pieces.
To Construct Royal Icing:
2 Egg Whites
450g Icing sugar
Add egg whites to a bowl and with a clean wooden spoon beat them slowly adding in the icing sugar until a stiff mix.
Add into a piping bag and pipe up the insides of the house ensuring it is secured together until the icing has fully hardened.
We have used so many different decorations over the years some of our houses have glass windows others haven’t. You can let your imagination run wild however here is a list of some of our favourite decorations that really made the house taste amazing.
Hard boiled sweets crushed (these get added to the cutout holes in the gingerbread before cooking and create glass windows)
Chocolate buttons (milk, white or dark) roof Shingles
Melted chocolate to coat and mark on roof tiles with different types of chocolate
Strawberry laces (window decoration also used to mark roof tiles and then coated with chocolate on our first house)
Jelly tots along the top of the roof
Chocolate fingers make a great log cabin effect.
Smarties are great for all sorts.
Coconut flakes dyed green make great grass.
We have often saved sweets from Halloween to decorate our houses in the past.
We love a bit of Christmas pudding and what better way to spend “stir up” Sunday (which is the last Sunday in November before Advent) than making a Christmas pudding for your Christmas day?
We Have always used a recipe adapted from an old Mrs Beaton’s recipe book. Below is the recipe we now use which is a mixture of this and Mary Berry’s.
- 90 g self-raising flour
- 125 g grated chilled butter or suet (traditionally this was beef suet however you can use vegan)
- 250 g raisins
- 125 g currants
- 125 g sultanas
- 125 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 0.2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 60 g mixed candied peel, chopped
- 90 g light muscovado sugar
- 1 lemon, grated zest and juice
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup butter for greasing
- 75 ml dark rum or brandy (we always use Courvoisier)
Step by step:
- In a large bowl, combine raisins, currants, sultanas, lemon zest and cognac and cover to leave overnight to soak.
- Next morning take your zested lemon and squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and add eggs to this and whisk.
- Take your bowl and now add to it your flour, suet,breadcrumbs, nutmeg, candied peel, sugar and lemon juice mix and stir until well combined
- Now turn to your Pudding basin which should be at least 2pints (1.25/1.5 litres I believe is the Modern sizing ours has been handed down to us so modern bowls may vary slightly ours holds however 1.5 litres once full) thoroughly grease your basin with your butter or oil should you prefer making sure you go up the sides.
- Once thoroughly greased, spoon in your pudding mixture and ensure you level out the mixture on top.
- Now you need to wrap your pudding. With a layer of greased greaseproof paper then foil both with a pleat in the middle and then tie to the bowl under the rim of the bowl.
- We cook ours in our Slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with water ensuring it is half way up the bowl with your pudding in and put on high for 6-12 hours letting it steam until cooked.
- Once cooked, allow to cool and replace the paper and store in a cold dry place for up to 3 months, ensuring you feed your pudding on a weekly basis for the first month. To feed, prick the top and pour in more cognac over the top, recovering and storing again in between.
- To prepare for eating, simply microwave and serve with Brandy butter or cream.