Cookbook: The Basics: A really useful cookbook by Anthony Telford
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas that was filled with a lot eating and merriment! We had a wonderful family Christmas day lunch with too much food as usual but everyone had a great time! It was our first year hosting the Christmas lunch, as it is our first Christmas in our current place. We used to stay in a tiny shoebox which tried to pass off as a one bedroom apartment, so Christmas, let alone any dinner parties, was never held at our place!
This week’s Cookbook Challenge theme was Christmas. It was a very broad theme which allowed for you to pretty much make anything you liked and give it a Christmas spin! A couple of weeks ago, I bought a set of 5 different sized star cookie cutters in anticipation for making a biscuit Christmas tree with them. The recipes for the Christmas tree I had seen online mostly use a gingerbread recipe, but the problem was, I don’t like gingerbread men/house/people!
I found a recipe for gingerbread people (non-sexist!) in “The Basics: A really useful Cookbook” by Anthony Telford. The book is actually very useful, but lacks any pictures except for the few tomatoes and the wooden spoon on the cover! This is a cookbook deal breaker for many people as they like to see beautiful photos of the food they are eating when they purchase a cookbook, but I liked it for the helpful “hints & tips” section after every recipe and the 96 page reference section at the back with useful information on ingredients.
I was thinking since I didn’t like the ginger spices but didn’t mind cinnamon too much, I would keep the cinnamon but replace all other spices with cocoa. This worked out surprisingly well and the cookies still tasted rather like gingerbread.
I made the star shaped cookies for the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and then assembled it on Christmas Day to display during our lunch. You are supposed to glue the individual layers of the Christmas tree with royal icing, but I didn’t bother so that people could pick off the cookie layers to eat during the day. For that reason, I also didn’t bother to decorate it beyond a dusting of icing sugar and I think it turned out quite well!
I only used 3 different sized star cutters and used 4 stars of each size to assemble the tree. They sit well on top of each other without the need to hold them into place with royal icing. If you would like a larger tree, use more different sized cutters.
No ginger gingerbread Christmas tree
450g self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp cocoa
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
160ml molasses (I used golden syrup but you could also use treacle)
1. Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon and cocoa into a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses (golden syrup) and beat until well combined.
3. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour mixture, working until thoroughly mixed.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
6. Lightly flour the work surface, cut the dough into half and roll out to 6-7mm thick. Using 3 different shaped star cutters, cut equal amounts of each shape from the dough. With a flat spatula or egg flip, lift the stars onto the baking tray placing a few centimetres apart.
7. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the edges are just starting to colour and they are firm to touch.
8. Remove from oven and cool on baking trays for about 2 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Assemble the stars on a plate, starting with 4 of the largest size on the bottom. Arrange the stars so the pointed ends are always in between the star below. Continue with 4 of the medium size and then finish with 4 of the smallest size to complete one tree. Repeat with remaining trees.
10. Dust over tree with icing sugar. You can also dust over individual star when warm before assembling and then dust again all over.
Results: The cookies had a nice dark colour like gingerbread are supposed to and smelt a lot like gingerbread because of the golden syrup and cinnamon. The cookies turned out a bit harder than I was expecting but that was probably because they were in the oven too long. They also weren’t that sweet so make sure you dust them with icing sugar. I didn’t mind the cookies but hubby didn’t really like them and we gave most of it away to family to take home, which they were happy to take. I think the taste would appeal to people who like gingerbread cookies but want a muted down flavour (ie. no ginger!).
Would I make them again? The Christmas tree was impressive so I would definitely try the star cutters again but as hubby didn’t like the cookies, I might use a different recipe.
Over & Out, Rilsta xx