Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Christmas Baking Ideas to Impress

At this time of year most of us are thoroughly enjoying / getting totally stressed out by planning for Christmas and getting together with friends and family.  The bakers amongst us may well be planning something special to wow people with and those that don't normally bake might be tempted to have a go during the season of permissible overindulgence.

I'm constantly stumbling across new ideas that I'd like to try and I thought it would be nice to collate some of them in one place.  Hopefully it will also show some of you things you haven't seen before that are fun and tempting to make.

There's a real mixture of difficulty so if you're looking for inspiration there should be something to suit your skill and ambition.  If you have made any of these or do so in the future please share your thoughts in the comments so we can all admire your results.

Britt Whyatt's Rice Krispie Christmas Puddings

The video of how to make these adorable Christmas puddings has been all over social media this year and it's easy to see why they're so popular.  One of the easier bakes, they're no less impressive for it, and definitely one where you can get the kids involved if you like.

You can either make your own holly leaves or buy them ready done so this really is a straightforward make.  They'll also keep really well so you can have a tin of these at the ready for any visitors popping in.

Normal Kitchen verdict: easy but effective - ideal for those who are short of time

Heston Blumenthal's Christmas Cookie Tree

This edible tree would surely make a wonderful centrepiece on any Christmas table.  The star stencil is provided for you to print so that you can easily make the right sizes for all the different layers, and the only limit on decoration would be your own imagination.

The comments seem to indicate the recipe makes too much biscuit dough so you could either change the quantities or use the leftovers for extra biscuits.  It would also be extremely easy to swap out the recipe for a favourite one of your own if you prefer.  Just make sure your biscuits are rigid enough to hold their shape once assembled or your tree could end up being rather sad and droopy.

Normal Kitchen verdict: a stunning centrepiece that you can achieve at home

Tea Cake and Create's Bauble Biscuits

Packs of cookie cutters in festive shapes are easy to pick up in the supermarket so grab a selection for these gorgeous marbled cookies.  Whilst these aren't that difficult at first glance I can't help but think that it's the meticulous and tidy execution that Marina has achieved that make them look so attractive.

You could make all sorts of flavours for these biscuits and icing and even fit them into your festive colour scheme.

Normal Kitchen verdict: Take your time and use a steady hand for maximum impact

Santa Coming Down the Chimney Cupcakes

Just when you think it's all about cookies and biscuits these chimney cupcakes come along and take things in a different direction.  Use whichever chocolate cake or brownie recipe you prefer and bake these directly in the tin without using paper cases for smooth sides.

Whilst strawberries are totally out of season here in the Northern hemisphere they really do add a lovely splash of colour to these gorgeous cakes and frankly after all that chocolate you may well be glad of a touch of fruity refreshment!

Normal Kitchen verdict: Perfect for your party table

Mary Berry's Gingerbread House

Christmas baking simply wouldn't be the same without a good dose of Mary Berry and this gingerbread house is the perfect example of festive kitchen goals for me.  Those stained 'glass' windows, that snowy roof, the inviting open door.  Sigh.

A printable template is provided and if you've ever watched the Bake Off Masterclass programs you'll have seen Queen Mary making this and handing out plenty of tips for success.

Normal Kitchen verdict: Christmas personified

Lauren Caris's Rice Krispie Christmas Trees

Another recipe using rice krispies these trees would be ideal for giving kids a chance to show off their individuality and go wild with edible decorations.  That said I do think Lauren's version looks particularly elegant and grown up.

A few of these in different heights would be a lovely tabletop forest so they could double up as decorations as well as festive snacks!  If you're feeling especially inspired why not make these to go around your gingerbread house?

Normal Kitchen verdict: Create a forest full!

Beck's Bakes Skiing Gingerbread Men

Whilst Beck's Bakes Facebook page doesn't provide you with instructions for these skiing gingerbread men it would be super easy to find a great recipe and take inspiration from her fabulous creations.

Those candy cane skis are genius and for extra impact you can create a display with a white sheet.  Team them with rice krispie trees and pretend you're in Whistler.

Normal Kitchen verdict: Perfect for all ages

Moje Wypieki's Cranberry Macarons

More ambitious or experienced bakers might be tempted by these supremely festive macarons.  A little decoration transforms a brilliant red cranberry macaron into an adorable Santa outfit - surely this is what patisserie perfection looks like.

For an extra challenge the recipe itself is in Polish but these little delights were far too incredible to not include and there's always Google Translate.  If you've never tried macarons before or would like some extra tips (in English ha ha) I can't recommend Stella Parks at the Brave Tart enough.  I had real success following her tips and recipes so you can always take Moje Wypieki's wonderful idea and combine with the Brave Tart's recipes to give these a go.

Normal Kitchen verdict: A Christmas challenge for those who want to take things to the next level

Melted Snowman Cookies

There are lots of versions of these cute biscuits all over the internet but I'm a particular fan of the look of these Lakeland ones.  Their meltiness is just so sweet and the faces on the snowmen are adorable.

Get the kids involved and go colourful and bright for extra Christmas cheer.

Normal Kitchen verdict: Ideal for children's get togethers

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