Keeping yourselves and the children occupied in the run up to Christmas might take a bit of imagination this year, but with a bit of preparation you can make it even more special than usual!
Making edible decorations for the tree is fun and practical and they can also be given as gifts to friends and family.
• 175g dark muscovado sugar
• 85g golden syrup
• 100g slightly salted butter
• 350g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 1 tbsp ground ginger
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 egg , beaten
• 200g royal icing sugar
• STEP 1
Put the sugar, syrup and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then bubble for 1-2 mins, stirring. Set aside to cool for 10 mins.
• STEP 2
Tip the flour, bicarb and spices into a large bowl. Add the syrup mixture and the egg, stir to bring everything together, then gently knead in the bowl until smooth. The dough will feel a little soft, but will firm up once cooled. Wrap and chill for at least 30 mins.
• STEP 3
Remove the dough from the fridge and leave at room temperature until softened. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line two baking trays with baking parchment.
• STEP 4
Working with half the dough at a time (keeping the remaining dough well wrapped), roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut out shapes – circles, stars, trees etc. Arrange over the trays and bake for 8 mins until a few shades darker and puffed up a little. Cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Before they totally cool make a small hole at the top with a knife or the end of a straw to thread ribbon through and hang from the tree. These will keep, un-iced, in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Local walk of the Month
Circular Rodmell Walk nr Lewes, Rodmell is a very pretty little village situated on the road from Lewes to Newhaven and famous for being the home of Virginia Woolf. It is close to the banks of the River Ouse and you can do a circular walk which will take you about 1½ hrs across fields and then along the river back to Rodmell. From Rodmell village walk through the churchyard to a stile at the far end and follow the signs to Southease (a tiny little village with a 12th century church having a very unusual circular tower, 17th century farms and cottages overlooking a village green). Walk down hill to the River Ouse and follow the footpath along the banks of the river heading North (you will see Lewes and its’ castle in the distance). The footpath then turns left back towards Rodmell. Virginia Woolf’s house is managed by the National Trust and is normally open to the public during the summer months.