Quick blog post before bedtime, can’t stay up late or santa might not come! Christmassyness is in full flow in my house now: all family together by the tree with a Yule Log waiting for dessert! Anyway, I thought I should probably share the gifts I’ve made before Christmas day, nevermind how last minute!
Knitted cacti are probably one of the most random of gifts I’ve ever made! A few weeks ago my former art teacher, who has since left to become a graphic designer, emailed me for a chat and to ask if my knitting skills could come in handy. Apparently a cactus fan in her life would love these for Christmas, and I agreed to lend a hand. They were a perfect quick gratification project haha, each little piece was done fairly speedily! I used various Rowan aran yarns and various stitch counts; if any knitters fancy making a bunch themselves then email me and I’ll let you know what I did.
On Monday I met up with my teacher at a pub to plant textile shrubbery. We looked quite odd with our pots and florist wire out on the table! Bex (feels weird calling my old teachers by their first names!) was very pleased so hopefully they’ll be well received on Christmas day!
I know you knitters are trying to figure out these cactus arms! I used short rows to shape the ends and mitred increases/decreases to make them bendy. Luckily they turned out really well and don’t flop or twist at all!
Promise I’m not totally crazy: I did make ‘normal’ little gifts as well as knitted cacti 😉 Edible gifts go down well with everyone – especially impossible-to-buy-for dads – and so I turned to some old favourites from the treasured cooking clips journal. Usually I’m all for experimenting in the kitchen, but sticking with what I know works seemed a better idea for quick presents. Cue the Cinnamon Snickerdoodles and Lemon Syrup Cakes! I’ve shared the recipes at the end of this post: they’re delicious so I definitely reccommend a try!
Colours were looking a tad samey with the lemon loaves and snickerdoodles, so I threw in some chocolate cookies to mix things up a bit. However in true Lily style, I realised we didn’t actually have any cooking chocolate haha. Clever me! Luckily there’s always an abundance of chocolatey treats at Christmas time, so I improvised with half a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and they turned out even better than expected. Think I should improvise more in future!
Bundled in cute bags and waxed paper, I think these make a pretty tasty gift all together. I decorated the bags for my grandparents and next door neighbour too – just adds that little personal touch that I love to send!
This time round I used cinnamon, but I’ve made these with nutmeg or crushed maltesers before. You can really add whatever you like, so experiment and let me know!
For the cookie mix:
- 175g butter, softened (I use salted)
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
For the coating:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat over to 200 C and lightly grease two or three baking trays.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sift the flour, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda together and blend into the butter mixture to form a soft dough.
- Break off pieces and roll into 1″ balls. Mix the sugar and cinnamon mix in a small bowl and roll each doughball in the sugar mixture. (Be generous – make sure every millimetre is coated!) Arrange on the baking sheets allowing a bit of room to spread. They don’t grow too much.
- Bake until pale golden, about 8-10 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Lemon Syrup Cake
The original recipe is for a 2 lb loaf tin, but I sometimes use 6 mini loaf tins. The timing is obviously very different, but the recipe stays exactly the same.
For the cake mix:
- 110g butter softened (I use salted but you can just add a pinch later)
- 175g caster sugar
- 175g self raising flour
- 4 tablespoons milk
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large eggs
For the syrup:
- Juice of 2 fat lemons
- 75g icing sugar
- Lightly grease your loaf tin(s) and preheat over to 180 C.
- Put all the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat for 3 minutes or so, until everything is blended nicely.
- Spoon the mix into loaf tin, and bake for about 45 minutes for one large loaf, and 15-20 minutes for smaller loaves.
- Start making the syrup as soon as the cake is out the oven – warm the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small pan until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Stab the cakes all over with a fork – be quite vicious and stab fairly deep! Then using a spoon, pour the syrup all over the stabbed surface. Make sure it goes right into all the fork pricks and not just down the sides!
Chocolate (Orange) Chip Cookies
- 35og plain flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 155g butter, softened
- 120g caster sugar
- 120g firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 120g chocolate chips (or smashed up chocolate orange!)
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together into a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Place rounded teaspoonfuls (about 1″ blobs) onto baking sheets leaving room for expanding.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes and leave to cool.
And now it’s gone 9 o’clock on Christmas eve so I should really log off the internet! Have a fabulous christmas everybody – eat lots of food and have lots of fun!