I find that most traditions are never actually passed down in their purest form. Everyone moulds the learnings of yesteryear and adds their own little spin before passing it along… and that’s the fun of it all!
Here are three of the main festive traditions in our household. It’s fun each year to find a fresh new way to incorporate them into the bigger Christmas medley.
So the plan for last weekend was to gather a few girlfriends and cook up a storm for Stir Up Sunday. We had our dried fruits ready, the brandy, we put on our aprons… and then… well, life just got in the way. We started with a drink, then a few more and before we knew it the brandy was gone but we were happy chatting away and the baking was swiftly forgotten. Whoops! (Note: I do not endorse drinking and baking. No one wins with a tipsy baker!)
It was safe to say that instead of the planned bake-a-thon, we cheated! But as most of you regular readers would know, I don’t think that’s a bad thing… at all. In fact, I’m regularly sharing shortcuts as tips and tricks for entertaining.
Our lovely friends at Bakers Delight helped out by sharing their scrumptious Christmas Cake and 6 pack of Fruit Mince Tarts. They retail for $20 together, so are a great option for those that don’t quite make it to baking stage. (Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of this post because you could win what you see in these photos).
Here are some quick and easy ways of making your Christmas cake one of the stand-outs during festive entertaining.
The cake already comes in a really cute tin, so you could keep it simple and tie on some twine. Add some earthy sprigs (like these basil and thyme flowers directly from my recently blossoming herb garden – hurrah!) or keep it traditional with a pine tree cutting and pine cones. The hand made gift tag is a H&D original which will be available in a pack when our online store kicks off in 2014… and we’ve included gift tags into the competition prize outlined at the end of this feature.
It’s the traditional way and oh so simple. Cherries are in abundant supply throughout Australia at the moment and they taste delicious. They add the perfect burst of festive colour when clustered on top of a cake. Dust the cherries with some icing sugar for a frost-looking finish (I couldn’t find any in my pantry on this occasion). Serve with custard in a cute jar. I like to add ground nutmeg and a hint of brandy to my custard mix.
This mini truffle and pudding pair are a cute alternative to the full sized cake.
The Bakers Delight cake is nice and moist already so making these are really simple. All you need are some mini cupcake papers, thick custard, chocolate sprinkles, mint for garnishing and a few drops of oil (vegetable or rice bran is best because it won’t leave behind any flavour like olive oil will).
For both these versions, scoop out a tablespoon sized chunk of cake and roll firmly between both hands to make a dense ball. One cake should give you around 30 balls.
MINI PUDDINGS: Put the hand rolled balls straight into the paper holder and refrigerate till they are nearly ready to serve up. Then slowly dollop about half a teaspoon of custard on top so it runs down the sides and add a few small mint leaves on top to garnish. Serve within a few minutes so the custard doesn’t thin out and run off to the sides.
TRUFFLE BALLS: Simply brush on a very thin coat of oil on the hand rolled cake balls and then and toss in a container of sprinkles so it is coated evenly. Then place in the paper cup and refrigerate before serving.
These are easy to dish into single serves, are cute wrapped up as gifts and you can create a nice little Christmas table-scape by scattering them across your table.
You can gift these directly in the boxed six pack, but I like splitting them up into single serves as individual gifts. A square of clear cellophane and our little H&D Gifting Pack is all you need to create a really sweet gift that can double as a place setting for the Christmas feast.
I love using what I already have from around the house to style centrepieces for my feasts throughout the year, and the festive season is no exception. I only had to wander over to my fruit bowl, the herb garden on my balcony and to my toddler’s toy box for these styling bits. Arrange the tarts and your collection of items on a crisp white platter, mirrored or wooden tray and just have fun with it. There are no rules, just arrange them until you like the look. It’s quick, easy and charmingly personal to repurpose what you have.
Now that my little girl is nearly two, she understands a bit more about jolly Santa. So I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate Santa’s post-chimney snack into what Maya would understand… and one thing she definitely understands very well are milkshakes. Specifically ones from glass bottles with stripy paper straws – that’s how our local milkshake bar serves them up for her and she is a big fan.
We’ll be incorporating our little munchkin’s favourite treat into the mix for Santa this year along with the other goodies we’ll make. And we couldn’t resist making our own chalkboard labels with some left over paint from our last project. With that, I think we’ve just started a new family tradition – milkshakes for Santa.
So grab yourself a Bakers Delight Christmas Cake or 6-pack of Fruit Mince Tarts, and go on a hunt around your house to find interesting knick-knacks you can incorporate into your festive styling this season.
Each pack comes with six of the following:
- Recycled paper goodie bags
- “Eat Me” labels with red and white twine
- Mini paper cupcake holders
- Small wooden spoons
- PLUS one $20 Bakers Delight gift voucher so you can sample the cake and tarts yourself.
The competition will be announced on our Facebook page so make sure you ::LIKE US ON FACEBOOK:: for your chance to win one of three packs.
A big thanks to Bakers Delight for partnering with H&D on this feature and for contributing the gift vouchers for our competition!