Becky aka English Mum is one of our favourite foodie members. She publishes scrumptious, inventive recipes on her blog. She was shortlisted for Red magazine’s Red Hot Women Awards this year – something that didn’t surprise us at BritMums. We were aware of her contributions to blogging long before that and recognised her with a Brilliance in Blogging award last year.
Here, she shares an inventive alternative to the usual Christmas cake and stollen: a cookie tree that you’ll find it hard to keep in one piece. Don’t miss out on the English Mum’s Big Christmas Bakeoff, taking place RIGHT NOW on her blog. In the meantime, find out how to make your own Christmas cookie tree from Becky here:
As far as I’m concerned, the best bit about Christmas is all the cooking and baking. Now, I know this fills some people with horror, but tinkering around in the kitchen, surrounded by twinkly lights (and maybe a few Christmas tunes on the radio) and I’m made up.
This Christmas cookie tree is great as it’s very easy to make, lends itself well to little helpers, and has the added advantage of being improved by liberal application of icing and glittery sparkles. What’s not to love about that?
You will need some star cutters of various different sizes. Cox & Cox do lovely star cutters, and Lakeland do an entire set, but you can also make small trees out of maybe three or four different sized cutters that are very cute. This basic ‘sugar cookie’ mix is a good one to have around. It makes nice biscuits that don’t spread, so is perfect for cutting out shapes. This mixture makes a lot, so if your tree is quite small you can save half in the fridge wrapped in foil for another baking session.
250g butter (at room temperature)
300g caster sugar (use golden for more flavour)
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
Firstly, whizz the butter and caster sugar together in a food processor or with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a tie and then the vanilla.
Sift the dry ingredients together and then add them in to the mixture. Combine to form a dough.
The secret here is to use tons of flour, so liberally flour your board, your rolling pin, your cutters and your children (well, their fingers). You can keep the dough quite thick if you don’t mind sturdy biscuits, as this will make them easier to handle. Pop your stars onto non-stick baking parchment on a baking tray.
Cut out two of each shape and bake for 180 degrees/gas 4 for about ten minutes, depending on their thickness.
When completely cool, mix up a thick batch of icing by combining five or six tablespoons of icing sugar with a few teaspoons of water (you can also use orange juice which adds a lovely flavour). Cover each star with icing sugar and liberally apply your glitter and sprinkles (or if you’re a minimalist, you can keep them plain white).
To assemble, stack the biscuits, adding a little blob of extra icing between each one, rotating them slightly as you stack to give a Christmas tree effect. Add extra glitter and baubles as you see fit. Well, it is Christmas.