The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas can be an overly commercialised holiday focused on spending money on gifts; many that that will sit in drawers for years to come. However, I think most people look forward to it through a rose-tinted haze of family, food and quality time.

One of my favourite things about Christmas is the gifts. But for me its all about the process of giving someone something special which shows how important they are to you, through gifting a thoughtful and individual gift. There’s very little that brings me more joy than seeing someone’s face light up when they unwrap a gift and are so completely taken in with how incredible it is for them. And I like to think I’m quite good at it!

Me and Stuart enjoying a Christmas cuddle

Me and Stuart enjoying a Christmas cuddle

With my little brother this can be somewhat of a challenge. He has autism amongst other special needs which means his abilities and interests are somewhat limited. There’s only so many Rosie and Jim or Madagascar toys we can get him! As Stuart lives in residential care a couple of hours away from where I live I get to see him rarely so I like to make sure I do my best to get him a present he’ll really enjoy. This year he has taken an interest in puzzles, so I decided to get a couple made for him: one of the Eiffel Tower and one of our local Tesco (not really anything special, but Stuart has a special affliction). He absolutely loved them! His eyes lit up as he peeled back the wrapping paper to see a little but of the picture poke out. It was very special that such a simple gift, which most people would not appreciate, bought Stuart so much joy.

My second favourite thing about Christmas is the food. Cheese, chocolates, roast dinners, biscuits, pâté, mulled wine, mince pies and so on! I always like to take control of my parents kitchen and cook the main roast; I’m in my element in the kitchen and reduces the amount of small talk required!

I was inspired by The Great British Bake Off and decided to make a couple of Swedish Courrones to give to friends and family. Paul Hollywood made it look relatively easy and so I embarked on my first (slightly complicated) enriched dough bake following the recipe in the link above.

I’m pleased to say that they came out well! It was so lovely creating the couronne with Christmas tunes playing in the background: weighing, kneading, proving, rolling, baking. The kneading of the dough and the marzipan was so therapeutic! Admittedly my blood pressure raised slightly when I realised I couldn’t fathom how Paul Hollywood had managed to make the twist look quite so good, however the end result looked great! Feedback was also positive and so I think this will become an annual fixture on my homemade Christmas treats.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas,

lisa sig

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