The Christmas Chronicles, Part II – ginger cookies, homemade gifts and new tuck tins.

Whilst my daughter skated with her netball teammates at the ice rink recently I did a rare bit of shopping in the food hall nearby and picked out a replacement tuck tin for all those homemade cakes and biscuits I might have time to rustle up over Christmas when friends pop in. Flapjacks are a favourite at this time of year – apple flapjacks usually make an outing for bonfire night and regularly until the end of December. But stem ginger, cloves, star anise and cinnamon find their way into most recipes around Christmas.

I’ve blogged before about stem ginger shortbread. Today I might whip up some ginger cookies, the very ones which proved such a boon many moons ago when I had a touch of morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy and whereas I’ve never been able to face camomile tea since those heady days, I love these beauts. Now I have an enthusiastic baker daughter vanilla fudge, gingerbread and mince pies are also on the cards. The fudge is likely to make their way into some pretty bags as a homemade gift for her friends who have birthdays this week. My own friends know that at this time of year I usually turn up clutching something edible.

The best stem ginger cookie recipe is this one from The Great British Book of Baking. Turn up with these over Christmas and you’re guaranteed a warm welcome

350g self-raising flour

1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g caster sugar

115g unsalted butter

85g golden syrup

1 medium egg, beaten

35g stem ginger, drained and finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 170c/350f/gas 3

2. Melt the butter and syrup over a low heat. St aside to cool.

3.Sift the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Once your butter and syrup mixture is barely warm, pour this into the flour mixture and add the beaten egg and stem ginger. Mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.

4. Roll the mixture into 24 walnut-sized balls using your hands. Arrange them on three baking trays lined with baking parchment. If you only have one baking tray (like me) you can arrange them on baking parchment and swap it out once your previous batch is done.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (they shouldn’t be too pale). If your cookies brown unevenly, you could turn the tray halfway through.

6.  Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store these in an airtight container. If your cookies turn crunchy because you’ve left them out too long, you can add a slice of fresh bread to the airtight container to soften them.

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