DIY Christmas disaster!

Operation ‘Bake Christmas’ is not going well. I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t read the full recipe before I started to bake. I didn’t read the full recipe before I went to the shops, I didn’t read the full recipe before deciding that it would be a brilliant idea to make my dad, grandad and sisters boyfriend mini stollen for their Christmas gifts.

I didn’t read the full recipe until I was prepared and ready to bake. I had my bowl on the side, wooden spoon at the ready, I had bought the full list of ingredients. I had bought scales, baking trays, cutters and bun tins … I. was. sorted.

So at this point I read the full recipe.

First panic, I had to put the miniature stollen into some posh kinda baking dish tray type thing which I have never heard of and more definitely do not own!  I considered using my new bun tin, but when fully formed they were too big so in the end I went for baking tray… I think Mr Paul Hollywood may refer to them as free formed.

However, the tray issue wasn’t my biggest problem.

I hadn’t fully read the recipe, so when I started baking at 8pm last night (with 3 batches of stollen to produce) I may have sworn, you see the recipe said to combine raisins, sultanas, lemon zest, nuts, spices, vanilla essence into a bowl and put to one side before making the dough (which I did.) Then I had to make the dough (no problem) knead for 10 minutes (good exercise) and then lead to rise for 1 – 1.5 hours, before kneading in the fruit, leaving to prove for a further 30 minutes, forming into shapes, leaving for a third prove, then baking in the oven for 20 minutes.  And I had to make 3 batches of these.

I made one batch last night and combined the fruit and nut part for the other two batches. That means that tonight I have to make 2 batches of mini stollen, 1 batch of diabetic biscuits, 1 batch of dairy free melt in the middle cookies and 1 batch of millionaire shortbread.

Oh and I need to do some wrapping, pack for heading to my parents straight from work tomorrow, drop my neighbours cards in with them and try and leave the house in a clean and tidy state (clearly that last one isn’t happening!)

Do you think Santa has some spare elves?

DIYing Christmas – because I am an idiot!

Like an idiot I have decided to make Christmas gifts for my nearest and dearest this year. Partly, it’s because I thought it would be nice to do something different, but mainly because I am terrified that Christmas is going to bankrupt me!

DIYing Christmas has kept me up at night. To begin with I was worried about what I was going to make. My original thought was Cinder toffee, mints and some chocolate truffles for everyone, with an addition of diabetic biscuits for my Grandma. However, I couldn’t find any way to cheaply package them, I considered hampers. I trawled pInterest for ideas and found a cool folded paper plate thing, which would have been cheap, but no good for anything other than the biscuits. Then I found a pack of 3 masonry jars in Asda, for just under a pound each. Having spent ages searching for nice jars for my own kitchen I knew this was the best value for money, and I hoped that by splitting up the 3 jars, so each recipient only got 2 jars, I could save some cash. But then I worried that two of these jars looked a bit stingy, and also they are a little big and so would take an awful lot of stuff to fill. So I went back to the drawing board…

Then my dad sent me an email, and I had a lightbulb moment. I will make each person their favourite ‘biscuit’. One jar per person and I could stuff the jars full without breaking the bank. I thought with a little tag and some decoration around the neck I could look generous enough and keep my bank balance healthy.

However, this gave rise to problem number two. What do bake? Some people have been so easy to assign a cake too; for Dad, Grandad and Sisters Fella Stolen (yes, I cheered when I realised I could bulk bake!) My mum will get some Caramel Slice, one friend will get the mints mentioned above, another will receive some lovely chocolate digestive gunky cake thing I made a while back which was not only a huge success with everyone who tried it, but I still have all the ingredients for as I massively over bought when I made it previously. All I had to do is find the safe place I put the recipe. So other than a lactose intolerant sister and one Aunty I am about there.

But this then brought up another issue.

I have no idea how long any of this stuff will keep. I want to make sure it is nice and fresh when I gift it and so at the time of writing I have not yet started baking. In fact looking at my diary I have the evening of the 22nd and 23rd to shop and bake and that is it.

Next year I might just abuse my credit card!!