Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas fairy

I'm sure you've been wondering what I plan to do with all that baking. The thing is, every year I do a lot of baking and take trays of goodies into work. I blame Bex for getting me into the Christmas baking habit, but it's an established tradition now. The upshot of this is it gave me an excuse to tick off a number of Edmonds recipes.

Today was the day I'd decided to bring in my Christmas offerings. It would need to be a bit more excessive than usual, as our staff are spread out in temporary premises around town, and I didn't want anyone to miss out. I decided that 5 trays would do the trick.

First, I wanted to make a couple more recipes to include on the trays. The sweets chapter is a bit of a bugbear to me, as I'm not keen on sugary home-made sweets myself, and seldom have any excuse to make them. I figured this would be the ideal opportunity to get a couple completed.

I started with coconut ice (p220), since I wanted to use up the coconut I'd bought for the brandy balls. It wasn't difficult to make, just heat icing sugar, milk, butter and salt in a pan until the sugar dissolves, then boil until it reaches the 'soft ball' stage. Then just add coconut, split the mix in half, coloured one pink, beat each half briefly then spread them in two layers in a tin.

The recipe didn't specify what size tin to use  - in fact, none of the sweets recipes seem to do so. I expected it would need to be quite small, though, and used my adjustable tin as small as it would go. Even then, it took a lot of coaxing with a wet teaspoon to spread it enough to fit the whole tin. I later found that my coconut ice was very thin, but it still tasted fine.

The final recipe on my list was chocolate fudge (p219). The procedure was quite similar to the coconut ice, except with cocoa instead of coconut. I upped the cocoa content a little bit, since I wanted the predominant flavour to be chocolate, not sugar.

Incidentally, the chocolate fudge was a bit of a milestone: my 200th recipe (assuming I'm allowed to count the rumpot, which is underway, but not finished yet). Only 376 to go!

Soon enough I had both the coconut ice and the chocolate fudge setting in the fridge, and I sat down to watch some TV. I stupidly thought it wouldn't take long to put the trays together, so I didn't make a start on it until the movie ended at around 10.30pm.

I started with the coconut ice and chocolate fudge, but decided I better get some of the more bulky stuff on the plate before I went too much further. The obvious place to start with 'bulky stuff' was the Christmas cake. Taking a deep breath, I got out a knife and made an attempt to cut through the rock-hard icing. I must say, it wasn't easy to do while trying to hold a camera steady in my other hand!

With a little effort, I successfully cut the first slice, which turned out to be almost entirely icing. Even at that point, I had chunks of icing all over the kitchen. When I went to cut slices of the cake itself, it got even worse: the royal icing just shattered every time I cut through it.

I had my first taste of the cake, which turned out to be a bit like taking a shot of rum. I probably didn't need to pour that extra rum over the cake before I iced it: the result was fairly potent. It was still tasty, but very rich. I ended up cutting it into quite thin fingers, partly because larger slices were too bulky for the trays, but also because I thought people would have trouble getting though a whole slice.

By the time I'd added the cake, Christmas mince pies, shortbread, spice biscuits and brandy balls to the trays, it was getting very late. I even went onto my computer to print off a little card to put on each tray, but my silly printer refused to print - even in greyscale - because one of the colour cartridges was empty. I had to do without the cards in the end.

So finally I had 3 large trays and two smaller plates of goodies to take in to work. I also had shattered bits of icing all over my kitchen, and less than six hours in which to get some sleep. Six hours turned out to be a generous estimate, however, when the cat uncharacteristically went exploring and I spent half the night trying to sleep but instead wondering where she'd got to.

Shortly before 7am this morning, I was blearily loading trays of baking into the back of my car. Appropriately attired in a Santa hat and plaits, I dropped into a couple of the other sites on my way to work, playing the 'Christmas fairy' and dropping off baking, much to the appreciation of various colleagues.

Come the end of the day, all that was left to do was collect up the empty trays, then come home and clean up the mess. Who would have thought that being a Christmas fairy would be such hard work?


  1. Looks very festive! Cutting the cake reminds me a bit of trying to get thru gib board, oops that's not very complimentary eh, sorry. well done yet again.c

  2. Those trays look amazing!! Good job!

  3. "look at that. We'", Hahah :)

  4. Are you mocking me, oh skinny brother?


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