So my previous post was from July and there's so much stuff from before Christmas but I thought I better at least get Christmas out of the way before Valentine's and Easter comes around! (Still have another few posts after this). So Christmas baking started with my gingerbread house, followed by my orange, cardamom & pistachio cupcakes. I also wanted to make some edible gifts to give away at work seeing as it was now my 3rd Christmas there and I'm always getting little gifts at work from other people. Though my gift was small in size it was big in heart! Everyone loved the gesture and I reckon home made edible gifts beat a box of chocolates =).
Trying to find the the right thing(s) to bake was hard! I had to make a lot of whatever it was I was going to give away. I had planned to give gifts to at least 15 or so people if not more. I thought cookies were cheap and easier to make in bulk. But what type of cookies? What flavours? Which ones were easy and quick to make masses of? I finally settled for a recipe I had used a long while ago for slice and bake cookies from my Women's Weekly Cookies book. I'll post up the original recipe along with the flavour variations provided.
Slice and Bake Cookies
• 250g butter, softened• 1 ¼ (200g) cups icing sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 cups (300g) plain flour
• ½ (75g) rice flour
• 1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
• 2 tablespoons milk
1. Beat together the butter, icing sugar and extract until light and fluffy, sift the flours together and stir into the butter mixture.
2. Divide the mixture in half and knead on floured surface until smooth. Roll each half into a log about 25cm long and wrap in cling wrap then refridgerate until firm (about 1 hour).
3. Preheat oven to about 160degrees celcius, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
4. Cut logs into 1 cm slices and place about 3cm apart on the trays. Bake for 20 minutes and then cool on wire rack
Orange and Poppy Seed
In place of the vanilla extract, beat in 1 tablespoon of finely grated orange rind with the butter. Add 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the flours.
Lemon and Craisen
In place of vanilla extract, beat in 1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon rind with the butter. Add 3/4 cup (120g) coarsley chopped craisen (dried cranberries) with the flours.
Pecan and Cinnamon
Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to the flours. Stire in 1 cup (120g) of chopped pecans. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking.
Stire in 70g of mini M&M's with the flours.
I chose to go with Lemon & Craisen as my first flavour.
This is what drew me to the recipe, slice and bake! You're guaranteed to have almost perfect looking cookies and it's so quick to go from dough to tray without having to try and shape the cookies.
The second flavour I chose was Orange and Poppyseed, a classic but a goody.
Cookies baked and almost perfect.
I did find that the craisens were slightly hard to cut through, the knife kept getting caught and wouldn't cut properly. Possibly because I didn't finely chop my craisens enough. I ended up having to shape them by hand to get a nice round cookie.
They smelt so good straight out of the oven, just wanted to eat them all!
Geared with my big bucket of cookies ready to be packaged up.
I saved some gingerbread men from the leftovers I baked from the Gingerbread house to add to my little cookie packs. I gave each person 2 Orange and Poppyseed, and 2 Lemon and Craisen cookies plus a gingerbread man. I was a bit worried my gifts were a little small but everyone was suprised by the fact that I made the cookies myself (and so many of them) and individually packaged them all up myself too. It just goes to show that the labour of love behind home made gifts does pay off =).