It’s time for the most delicious day of The Hoot Advent Calendar 2022! Some fantastic OU students have kindly sent us some delicious recipes, lovely baking stories, and some fantastic photos of their bakes! If you’re after a bit of festive baking inspiration, you’re in the right place. Keep on reading for:
- Esme’s Christmas Cookie Tree
- Lou’s Gingerbread House
- Alexis’s Lebkuchenhaus
- Rachel’s Gingerbread Bridge
- Eric’s Christmas Cake
- Rochelle’s Sugar Cookie House
Esme’s Christmas Cookie Tree
Esme is part of the Baking Club and kindly shared a beautiful Christmas Cookie Tree with us. Esme said “I used the cutters and recipe from Lakeland and this was my first attempt. I went for a more autumnal theme with the colours, but if my tree inspires anyone else, I’m sure that it can be made in a whole host of different decorations and themes!”
Very impressive for a first attempt, Esme!
Lou’s Gingerbread House
Lou Robinson, Vice President Engagement at the OU Students Association, shared her fantastic gingerbread house with us. She told us about her festive baking tradition: “Me and my partner use one Saturday in the run up to Christmas to make a gingerbread house. They’re definitely not showstoppers but it’s always a good laugh. He’s an engineer so takes the construction far more seriously than I believe is necessary but it’s always an enjoyable day. It’s been cancelled the last two years as the place we’ve been renting had the world’s teeniest oven but we’re moving this week and Gingerbread Day is back on ”
We can’t wait to see this year’s gingerbread house Lou!
You might remember our Festive Bake Off Competition in 2021. We spoke to the winners again to find out a bit more about their bakes!
Alexis shared a fantastic Lebkuchenhaus, and has kindly provide the recipe used for the base and some tips:
“Make a practice-batch of the biscuits, trying out different thicknesses, so you can figure out which texture you like the best, as they go from thin and crispy to thick and fluffy very well!”
“Make more than you think you need, as if you want to build quite a big structure, as I did, you might need to add some internal supports, and it’s great if they’re edible!”
Did you spot Santa stuck in the chimney? Amazing detail, Alexis!
Rachel’s Gingerbread Bridge
Rachel was the winner of the England category in the Festive Bake Off Competition 2021, and we can see why!
The structure is based on the Palladian Bridge at Stowe and is made almost entirely of gingerbread.
Eric’s Christmas Cake
Eric’s festive fruit cake won in the Ireland category. The perfect blend of dried fruit, cinnamon, and lots more goodness makes this a great festive dessert.
Eric has kindly shared the Christmas Cake recipe:
8 oz. Butter (or margarine)
8oz. Demerara sugar
3 tbsp. Black treacle
12oz. Plain Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Mixed Spice
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. Alcohol (brandy or whisky is best)
4oz. Candied peel
4oz. Glace cherries (chopped)
2lb. Dried Fruit (1lb. Currants, 8oz. Sultanas 8 oz. Raisins) (Best to soak in alcohol overnight before)
4oz. blanched almonds chopped
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Cream the butter, sugar and black treacle until soft.
Whisk the eggs and alcohol together.
Sieve together all the dry ingredients.
Add the flour and egg mixtures alternatively to the creamed mixture.
In a separate bowl mix peel, cherries, fruit, chopped almonds and lemon rind. Add the creamed mixture to this and stir until all the fruit is completely mixed in with the mixture.
Line the inside of the cake tin with a double thickness of greased paper around the side and brown paper and greased greaseproof paper on the bottom of the tin. Tie a double band of brown paper round the outside of the tin, standing well above the top of the tin.
Add the mixture to the tin.
Put in the middle of a very moderate preheated oven. 180 degrees for 1½ hours and then 150 degrees for 1½ hours.
Cool in the tin then store in an airtight tin. Alternatively securely wrap in tinfoil.
If a very moist cake is liked, then prick the cold cake and pour over the alcohol at intervals before icing.
Ideally this should be made about 6 months before required but can be left until about 3 weeks.
Rochelle’s Sugar Cookie House
Last but not least, Rochelle’s brilliant Sugar Cookie House based on a family recipe, which won in the Scotland category for the Festive Bake Off Competition 2021. Keep on reading for the recipe!
Rochelle said: “One important tip is to put a house like this somewhere where your inquisitive puppy can’t get at it… because dogs apparently like the look of the cookie. (Fortunately this happened after I had taken the photos. I caught him before he could actually eat anything! )
In terms of baking tips, I found that even after using a perfect template, the cookie does expand a little so you have to allow for that in your planning. For the icing “glue” I used egg whites (beaten) with icing sugar since that combination hardens well (and tastes great with the cookie).
The recipe I used was a big-family sized one, but it can be increased or decreased as long as the ratios are right. It’s a great recipe that works well for making shapes/houses, and isn’t hard to get right. It’s the go-to for us when kids come around want to bake something.
The recipe came from my Great-Grandma, who gave it to my Grandma, who used it to bake cookies with my Mom when she was little, who in turn used it with me when I was little.
Now I use the recipe for “Ouma Lubbe’s sandkoekies” (Translated into English from Afrikaans that means “Grandma Lubbe’s sand cookies.” She called it “sand cookies” because the sugar crystals feel like sand when you knead the cookie dough). ”
Rochelle’s Great-Grandma Lubbe’s sugar cookie recipe:
500 g butter
2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
7-8 cups of plain flour (How much you put in depends on the consistency)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1. Mix together butter, sugar, and eggs.
2. Add vanilla.
3. Add the dry ingredients: Add the flour bit by bit until the dough has an easy-to-roll consistency.
4. Roll out into a sheet and use cookie cutters/ a knife to get the shapes you want.
5. Put baking paper on to a pan and place the cookies on top.
6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately ten minutes.
7. Let the cookies cool and decorate as you want! You can also put sprinkles/chocolates/jam on top of the cookies before baking for a different look.
Tip: Use a little plain flour on your hands/rolling pin/cookie cutters to stop the dough from sticking.
Thank you to our fantastic festive bakers!
Let us know in the comments if you try any of the recipes or if you have any favourite festive bakes of your own.
Happy baking everyone!