Foodie Friday: Christmas Pudding Cookies

christmas_pudding_cookies(Makes 18)

150g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

To decorate:
Icing sugar, for dusting
200g white ready to roll icing
50g green ready to roll icing
1 tube red writing icing

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together using an electric hand-held whisk. Beat in the vanilla.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda, then add to the butter and sugar. Mix until crumbly, then, with clean hands, gather the dough and knead until just smooth.
3. Turn out onto a work surface and shape into a 27cm-long sausage shape. Slice into 18 rounds and place, spaced apart, on the baking sheets. Flatten each with your fingertips to a 5cm diameter. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. To decorate, dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the white icing to a thin sheet. Use an 8cm-round cookie cutter to stamp out 9 circles. Cut each one to make two wavy-edged semi-circles. Lightly brush with water and stick onto the cookies.
5. Roll out the green icing and cut out 36 leaf shapes. Use the tip of a teaspoon to cut away the edges to resemble holly leaves. Attach two to each cookie with a dab of water. Use the writing icing to dot two ‘berries’ on each cookie.

Nuts & Bolts: Christmas Carol

We may enjoy singing them round a gaudily-lit Christmas tree, but once carols were considered so shocking priests and kings tried to ban them. Roderick Swanston unfolds their story.

Christmas may be coming, the goose getting fat, and we may be preparing to put our credit cards in the old man’s hat, but one thing is certain: at this time of year most of us will be singing, or listening to, carols, whether around the streets or in the candle-lit darkness of a local church or cathedral. But what exactly is a carol?

Once in Royal David’s City, for instance, is not a true carol, but a Christmas hymn, the words of which were published in 1848 by the Irish hymn-writer Mrs C F Alexander (1818-1895); they originally appeared in her Hymns for Little Children as a kind of sermon on the text from the Creed, ‘who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary’. The tune was written by the London organist and composer Dr H J Gauntlett (1805-1876), published separately in 1849, and then in a collection of settings of Mrs Alexander’s words in 1858.

True carols are much older, and their origins more pagan and secular than later Christmas hymns. Properly to qualify, a true carol dates from before Henry VIII’s English Reformation of the 1520s and ’30s.

Continue reading ‘Nuts & Bolts: Christmas Carol’

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Hanukkah!


Storytime: Snow White and the Seven Dart Frogs

dartfrogsYear: 2014
Author: Gemma Cary
Illustrator: Kelly Caswell

One day, in a faraway land, another mirror went crashing to the floor.

‘Stupid thing!’ shouted Queenie, stamping her foot.

‘Not again, m’lady…’ sighed the butler, reaching for the Super Shard Sucker.

‘These magic mirrors are maddening!’ said Queenie. ‘None of them will give me the right answer. It’s my wretched stepdaughter. Why is she so disgustingly pretty?’

Locked in her room, the wretched stepdaughter heard the commotion.

‘Another seven years of bad luck for Queenie,’ she said. ‘She must be up to at least 700 years by now!’

The stepdaughter’s name, if you haven’t already guessed, was Snow White. It’s true, she was extremely pretty. But Snow White wasn’t aware of her beauty, and that made her even prettier.

Buy to find out more!

Music Monday: Festive jukebox II

The second instalment, with a couple of repeats from years past (what can I say, I can be quite steadfast in my favourites). The ‘again and again and again’ ones will probably appear next week!

Month at a Glance

December 2014
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