We’ve gone baking mad the last couple of days. My sister-in-law reminded me that this christmas challenge thing is all about doing things with the kids… whether we get gorgeous works of art – edible or otherwise – or not. Nonetheless, Louis and I have embarked on some projects which were perhaps a little out of his league. The stick tree was the worst as he could hardly do a thing. Yesterday we tried for a salt-dough nativity scene. It started really well: Louis loves to bake. He poured in all of the ingredients (from cup measure to bowl) and only a tiny bit went on the floor – but you’d be surprised how well salt spreads out. Anyway, it’s a very forgiving recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup warm water, and some recipes said to add 2 tbsp oil… but I didn’t. I put a bit of extra flour in but it’s possible we’d spilt some rather than that the recipe requires it. Making the figures was a team effort. Louis helped make the bits: balls for faces, big flat shapes for cloaks and for baby Jesus’ blanket, little balls for feet… His favourite bit was slapping the dough to flatten it – not overly surprisingly.

All the figures, ready to bake!

I rested the manger on the edge of a loaf tin so that it would have a curve: a little creative problem solving. Well done, me. I tried to get Louis to help paint and he did a little white on the sheep before he got bored. I finished them today while Louis was having his sleep. We collected some more sticks en route to the halte garderie so we’ll fashion them a stable this evening. Obviously the nativity making turned out to be a bit adult-centric. Louis had his moments but I thought today we could do better… by simply focussing on the side of things he loves: the baking!

First, selecting a recipe. There was no clear winner.

One of the choices was gingerbread reindeer. I used Mum’s christmas biscuit recipe. No idea where she got it but it’s fabulous, as long as you put everything in in the right order, and very low on dishes.

Here it is:

Melt 50 grams of butter in a large saucepan with 1 Cup of honey and 3/4 Cup of Brown Sugar.

When the sugar is no longer grainy, remove from the heat and add, in the following order, mixing…

Squeezing the lemon. Like a boss.

– 1 tbsp lemon juice
-1 tbsp lemon rind
– 2 tbsp cinnamon
– 1tsp ground cloves
– 1tsp nutmeg
– 1tsp all spice
– 1/2 tsp baking soda (or more, turns out, oops!)
– 3 cups of flour

Mix till smooth-ish.

The recipe says, roll out till 3-5mm thick. Cut shapes using cookie-cutters.

But today, for something different (for someone without cookie cutters):

Ball up teaspoon-fulls and squash into circles.

Balling up the dough.

For the reindeer variation: press pretzels into the top, as shown below…

Bake at 160°C for 15 minutes. Then cool and decorate. 

Bit of a snack.

All finished baking, and very soft, untill they cool. You were warned.

Couldn’t decide what colour eyes reindeer should have.

Now, what shall we do with all the leftover smarties??? First world problems, I know, but nevertheless…

Snowmen! If I’m honest this was probably Louis’ favourite from the pictures but he was being very contrary…

The ‘recipe’ online says to coat the marshmallows in ‘candy coating’. A bit of research revealed that this is something a lot like melted chocolate buttons. Too sweet for me. I went with the lemon icing and embraced the messiness. Louis helped with a couple of smarties and put the marshmallows on the sticks. And then ate a lot of smarties. Hm.

There was quite a lot of dough leftover but we’d done two whole trays of reindeer so I decided to get artistic, while Louis napped, and made a giant cookie:

Santa sleigh spiced biscuit.

And then I decorated it.

As you can tell, I got into it today. At one point there was icing, paint water and dishes from three different meals all on the kitchen bench… oh wait, there still is.

It’s the last day of work/school/halte garderie before the Christmas break. I ordered the ‘buche’ for christmas day, and delivered our christmas present to the Gardienne (our building caretaker). The house is a shambles but I’m feeling rather onto it. Always a nice delusion 🙂

One thought to “embracing messiness”

  • Wiedie

    those cookies (and sleigh) look awesome!

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