Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Home-made Presents from the Kitchen!

Home-made Presents from the Kitchen! 

At Christmas, more that at any other time of the year, it’s useful to get hints and tips on how to make things easier in and around the kitchen. Of course, these ideas can be applied to any time of year, but with extra guests and visitors turning up out of the blue at Christmas, this is when we tend to feel the pressure and need just a little help in the right direction.  

There is always a great interest in ideas for home made gifts, home baked and beautifully packaged gifts to give to family and friends.  These can range from quite advanced crafts to simple home made cookies and cakes, but they are always welcome! 

Dress them well, pack neatly or place your hand made gifts in cellophane bags, add ribbons and a lovely gift tag to make an amazing first impression, your effort won’t go un-noticed!

Kilner Jar gifts - 
Those of you who have been to my kitchen, will know that I'm a huge fan of Kilner jars, the traditional preserving jars. I have shelves full of them, containing everything from sugar, spices, pasta, right through to ribbons and buttons. They are available in most cook shops, craft shops and even supermarkets during the jam making season. 

To make a stylish and useful present, fill a Kilner jar with all the ingredients needed to make chocolate cookies, brownies or Welsh cakes, add a little parcel label with the instructions on how to make them, and you have another sweet and useful gift. The storage jar can be used again and again, whilst the contents offer and activity and a sweet treat, three pressies in one!!  By the way, just like the packet mixes in the shops, don't add the wet ingredients!! Don't add eggs or butter, just the dry stuff!! 

For gifts to make now and give and use on the day, try making your own cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, orange zest, sugar and a drop of port. Store the sauce in a Kilner jar and take it with you as a gift for the family ready for the Christmas dinner. If you have a little more time on your hands, how about making special friends a decorated Christmas cake? Wrap it in a pretty box and tie shut with a ribbon... what could be better?

Here's my favourite luxury Christmas Cake recipe, and although stir-up Sunday has now been and gone.... it's really not too late to bake a cake!

Luxury Christmas cake


1kg mixed fruit

1o0g glacé cherries
75g of mixed peel
50g chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons mixed spice
300g butter
300g soft brown sugar
5 eggs
300g plain flour
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 orange rind & juice
a drop or two of brandy


  • Wash your hands!
  • Grease and line a 20cm cake tin
  • Measure out and mix fruit, orange & lemon rind and orange juice
  • Add brandy and soak overnight
  • Measure out the dry ingredients, the nuts, spices, sugar and flour
  • Place the softened butter, beaten eggs into a mixer, and mix well, add the remainder of the ingredients.
  • Stir in the fruit and treacle and finally, spoon into the prepared tin
  • Cook on the middle or low shelf for 3½  - 4 hrs at 140˚c. 
  • Check the cake after 3 1/2 hours especially if using a fan oven.  
  • Check that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer or a knife into the centre of the cake - it should come out clean
  • Have fun decorating with marzipan, icing and Christmas sprinkles / holly / silver balls and a ribbon!

It’s easier to make some mini cakes to give as gifts.  The ingredients are the same,

but we use recycled small food tins as cake tins.  Cooking time will be about 30-40 minutes.