Growing up, we had a red tinsel Christmas tree. It didn't matter what decorations you put on it’s sparse branches, you could not make it look any good. As the saying goes, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and this tree was more pig’s arse than sow’s ear.
The first Christmas Bearhands and I shared at the farm, I bought a department store-worthy tree on Grays Online. When it arrived, I discovered that you had to assemble each branch individually, before inserting it into the trunk of the tree. 140 stems x 8 leaves = pain in the wreath. Erecting this monstrosity was such a behemoth effort that it completely took the fun out of decorating the tree. The results were beautiful, but what should have been a bit of festive fun left me muttering curse words under my breath (and we all know that Santa doesn’t deliver Sav Blanc to sweary mummies!)
One of my fonder childhood Christmas memories are stained glass window biscuits. I hadn’t thought about them in forever, but once they were in my head, I couldn’t get them out. I’d heard mixed reviews about the level of difficulty in making them work, but I’m pleased to say that this method worked beautifully first time. We won’t be hanging these on the tree though, the kids leave enough ant invitations under the table without dangling them in the lounge room.
stained glass window biscuits
Yield 24 biscuits
Stained glass window biscuits are a childhood Christmas classic and the way the boiled lollies transform into stained glass is a little bit of kitchen magic! Use them as edible gift tags for something a little out of the ordinary.
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbs milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ½ cups plain flour
300g boiled lollies of various colours (I use red, green, yellow and orange).
Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add the extract and milk and beat until combined. Sift the flour and powder into the mix and stir until just combined. Turn the dough out and knead it for about a minute, then divide the dough into two balls, wrap them in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Using a food processor, crush the boiled lollies by colour and place in the small bowls. Don’t do this too early if you’re in a humid climate. The humidity makes the crushed lollies clump together.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roll out the dough onto baking paper, lay out your cookie cutters for the windows of the biscuits - leaving plenty of space around the shape for the window frame. I find it easier to cut and remove dough from between the biscuits than to lift them and place them onto another sheet of baking paper. Remove the centre of the cookie cutter and carefully add the crushed lollies to the centre hole. Re-roll the offcuts and repeat.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Allow to cool on the biscuit tray for five minutes, before transferring the biscuits on baking paper to cooling racks. Once they have cooled completely, carefully peel the baking paper from the back of the biscuits.
Courses Baking, Dessert
Can we have a quick chat about baking paper? There’s good baking paper and there is really lousy baking paper. The good stuff makes all the difference. If you accidentally buy bad stuff, give it to the kids for tracing paper and get some more. I’ve spent hours in the kitchen in the past, only to have all my hard work undone by being a cheapskate and buying bad paper. I don’t cry over spilt milk, but stuck biscuits are an entirely different matter. Learn from my mistakes, lovelies!
This year, we’ve chosen a little pine tree that’s growing in the back paddock. The Big Sister is disappointed; I can tell from the sow’s ear expression on her face. But the big Christmas tree will stay boxed up until she’s old enough to use a few swear words of her own.