Stepping around the festive season gingerly…


I know it is only October but, as many a baker will tell you, the recipes will be scattered about the kitchen, being ‘re-organised’ in the hope that next year it won’t be such a hassle to find that one recipe you used four years ago and would love to do again. There should be a slight aroma of spice and dried fruit, candied peel and scribbles of ideas and adaptations. And why, you may ask, is this happening in October? One word…


I know, I’ll try and keep my usage of this word down to a bare minimum, but it needed saying early on to get it out of the way.

At the moment, my kitchen has an odd aroma of Amaretto Mincemeat (this year’s experiment #1) and my cakes; a traditional Ch*@!£mas Cake (from a very decrepit recipe of my grandma’s) and a Chocolate and Ginger Ch#?+&mas Cake (adapted from the same recipe). I’ve also managed to surround myself with jars of Speculoos Spice mix (another one of those large-pinch-of-whatever concoctions), cookie cutters and patterned boxes.

But, aside from the organised chaos, there is also the pornography to look forward to.

Simply NigellaBefore anyone gazes in shock at their screen, please consider that, to a baker, pornography has a completely different meaning. ‘Simply Nigella‘ is already well-thumbed, and tufts of torn paper escaping from various pages, Mary Berry has had a light fingering (steady now) in preparation for the big days dining dessert (if the little people of my rabble can decide on what type of sugar-induced coma they’d like to partake in this year) and, thanks to the well-stocked shelves of my local M&S Food, I’ve glimpsed the first sight of ‘Good Housekeeping‘, which I’m sure will end up with more dog-ears than a luxury boarding kennel.

I look forward to the festive season every year, with the blind stupidity of someone who has shot themselves in the foot, but then cannot wait until they shoot themselves in the foot again. I can barely remember the hectic baking, re-baking, decorating and delivery of tasty morsels that took part in a mass exodus of my kitchen last year, but I do recall that all of my favourite flavours were involved. Not that I need to justify making gingerbread in the height of summer, but there is something about the atmosphere in winter that makes it taste better. The boiling of treacle fudge on a dark night (when it’s actually only 5pm), the gingery-cinnamon-y wafts from the oven on a bleak Sunday afternoon seem all the more enticing when the days become shorter and the weather a little nippier. They are most definitely mood-foods! You even find yourself rationalising the consuming of Mince Pie Brownies at 10am (FYI, I think it perfectly acceptable to eat sweeteries for breakfast, as my standard Sunday munchies of early morning Digestives and Jammy Dodgers will attest). I also think that supper can constitute a slice of Coffee & Almond Bakewell Tart without the guilt of calories or added faddy-diet points/days/carbs* (delete as appropriate). I am a firm believer that calories do not count if eaten standing up, although I don’t recommend that as a ‘diet’ to follow – it is my own way of advocating my own eating habits.

I’ll keep posting various bits of information on my winter progress, and, if you have any questions or would like the recipes of anything you read about, drop me a line, a text or an owl and I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I’m off to make Salted Caramel buttercream for my Speculoos Sandwich Biscuits (and maybe eat them…).


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