Today is the Winter Solstice, or Yule. Today is the shortest day and the longest night. Today we welcome the return of the sun, and look forward to the wheel of the year turning and bringing us back to spring and eventually the Summer Solstice. Today was also the end of the Mayan Calendar and the predicted end of the world. Well, here I am typing up my blog, so clearly the world didn't end. You can't be too careful though, so Lucy and I decided that we'd rather die together happy, festive and baking, then on our own, so we got together at my house and together with Niamh, we did my annual Christmas Bake Off.
For starters I made some Hazelnut Crispies (recipe here) to give as gifts. I have two lots of friends who are dairy and/or wheat free, so these were a no brainer. I used doves farm wheat free flour and they were easy peasy. Taste great too!
Then iced biscuits (recipe here), these are a simple gift to make and I like to hand them out to our neighbours, as well as have plenty to take to my parents house. I made two lots, one of which was dairy free - substituting the butter with 'Pure' a soy alternative.
Lucy was the star of the show, making me some of my favourite Christmas treats - lemon curd tarts! She made a sweet pastry and used a small, but deep tart tin and I can assure you that these will not last long! I have yet to use the mincemeat I made back in September (see at the bottom of this post here), but it is tradition that I make the mince pies with my Dad on Christmas eve and its an event I look forward to. So don't worry, we aren't lacking in the mincemeat department, I just haven't made them yet.
Lastly, the other traditional thing that I make is what we call 'Praline' but is actually just a chocolate biscuit cake. The closest recipe is here although I use rich tea biscuits, I use a mix of dark and milk chocolate and I add dates to break up the richness a bit. These are currently setting in the fridge and I will then ice them ready to go to Reading. This is Paul's absolute favourite treat at any time of year, so much so that I make it for his birthday instead of actual cake. These are the only two occasions when I make it.
Niamh was an absolute delight today, eating more ingredients than were possibly added!
School finally broke up today, and I am excited to have Lochie and Brenna at home for two weeks without a timetable. End of term is so late this year that we haven't done any of the things we usually do for Yule. Like walk up the hill at dawn with the tippers and make pancakes, or this weekend, the weekend of Yule, we normally take the kidlets to Glastonbury and celebrate the Solstice there. However the weather warnings for the rain due over this weekend mean that we shall re-think our plan and celebrate at home.
Whatever you do, wherever you spend it, I hope you are full of glad tidings. Happy Solstice, I hope the sun warms your face as it returns, leading us into spring xxx