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Christmas baking, in my opinion, is the best kind of baking. I love turning on the Christmas carols, making a pot of tea and putting aside some time to enjoy the process. Gingerbread is a great option for two reasons: it is a simple recipe that is easy to multiply and the cookies keep well for up to three weeks if stored in an airtight container. Plus, they look so lovely when decorated with icing and wrapped in cellophane for handing out to friends and family. Although the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger pair well with this time of year, by no means should gingerbread be reserved only for the festive season. These sweet love hearts would work very well as bonbonniere – try decorating the cookies with your initials, or if you are adventurous, make a gingerbread bride and groom. In any case, you will love this recipe – enjoy!

Makes approximately 36 cookies.  Double if required. 

You Will Need:

2 x large baking trays
Baking paper
Rolling Pin
Love heart cookie cutter
Scone cutter
Wire rack for cooling

 

125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

 

1 cup Icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white
Snap-lock bag

Step One. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius, line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Step Two. Use a mixer to beat sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add egg and golden syrup and mix until combined. Fold in dry ingredients until dough consistency forms.

Step Three. Lightly flour a flat surface and tip dough out onto it. Knead gently until smooth. Press into a rough disc-like shape and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

Step Four. Remove from fridge, place dough between two sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to roll out until the dough is approximately 3-4mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to gently cut out shapes. I used a small love heart shape and a medium sized scone cutter. Use a spatula or butter knife to transfer shapes to baking tray. Space cookies 2-3cm apart on tray.

Step Five. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Bake in batches if required. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Step Six. Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Spoon in icing sugar while beating until stiff peaks form. Spoon icing mixture into snap lock bag and seal. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Step Seven. When cookies are completely cool, snip the tiniest bit off the corner of the snapback bag and use to pipe decorative icing around cookies. Try different patterns and styles and see which ones you like best. Allow icing to set for around 15 minutes then either place into cellophane bags or a large airtight container until ready to enjoy!

Recipe and image by Jessica Derrick

Ms Zigzag says: These little love heart gingerbreads get me in the mood for Christmas, for baking, and I pray the next wedding I attend gifts these as wedding favours – I wouldn’t be able to resist gobbling them up on the way home from the wedding.

About Jessica Derrick: I’m a writer and a lover of words and stories, pretty papers and flowers. I find great satisfaction in creating something beautiful from the simplest of materials. I’m happiest in a home bustling with conversation and music, sitting at a beautifully decorated table surrounded by good friends and delicious food – with a glass of champagne in hand, of course!

I, for one, always look forward to the delicious delights that are served at bridal showers and hen’s day parties. There’s nothing more inviting than walking into a do when there’s a grazing table set up with bites such as dips, sausage rolls, mini pizzas, and of course, something sweet like this healthy cake from Australia’s favourite nutritionist, Lola Berry. We love the pretty addition of the flowers that make this cake extra inviting. We hope this recipe inspires you to get busy baking for your next wedding celebration!

Lola says, “I know this sounds more like a savoury vegetable dish, but bear with me here; it’s a lovely treat that not only feeds the skin but also encourages the whole body to thrive. Extra-virgin olive oil is a bit of an all-rounder and delivers many health benefits to the body, whether applied topically or eaten, like this. When consumed it’s said to aid the digestive system, help to reduce our levels of bad cholesterol and even help lower blood pressure.”

Ingredients 

coconut oil, for greasing

3 cups (300 g) almond meal

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt flakes

1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

5 large eggs

1⁄2 cup (125 ml) maple syrup (or honey or coconut nectar)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups (210 g) grated parsnip 1 large granny smith apple,

grated

1⁄2 cup (60 g) sultanas

1⁄2 cup (60 g) raisins

1⁄2 cup (60 g) roughly chopped walnuts, plus extra to serve

1⁄2 cup (60 g) roughly chopped pecans

Icing

2 cups (500 g) ricotta

1⁄2 cup (125 ml) maple syrup

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped (or 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract)

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20 cm cake tin with a little coconut oil and line the base with a circle of baking paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Make a little well in the centre and crack in the eggs, then add the maple syrup and olive oil and mix together really well to get rid of any lumps. Stir through the parsnip, apple, sultanas, raisins, walnuts and pecans.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface, then bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

While the cake is cooling, whip up the icing. The easiest way is to mix the ingredients in a food processor or blender, but you can do it by hand; you just want to make sure everything’s mixed evenly and there are no lumps.

Slather the icing over the top of the cooled cake, then slice and serve.

Serves 8–10

Images by Armelle Habib

Recipes and images extracted from Beauty Food by Lola Berry, published by Plum, RRP $24.99, available in all good bookstores from 31 October.

About Lola Berry: Leading Australian nutritionist Lola Berry appears regularly on television shows such as The ProjectThe Today Show and A Current Affair. She is a spokesperson on nutrition and general wellbeing in print and on radio, and has a huge and interactive online following. She is the bestselling author of nine cookbooks: Inspiring Ingredients (2010), The 20/20 Diet (2012), The 20/20 Diet Cookbook (2014), The Happy Cookbook (2015), LolaBerry‘s Little Book of Smoothies and Juices (2015), The Happy Life (2016), Lola Berry‘s Summer Food (2016), Food to Make You Glow (2017) and Beauty Food ( November 2017).

I adore a Bellini for a breakfast celebration, so we decided to combine two of our favourite fruits for this celebratory cocktail. Rhubarb is tart and delicious and when combined with strawberries, giving this cocktail a flavour that is just the ticket for a bridal brunch or the morning of the wedding when bubbles are flowing en masse!

Ingredients

  • 15ml strawberry liqueur
  • 30ml rhubarb compote or puree
  • Champagne or prosecco
  • Fresh strawberry for garnish

Method

If you can’t find rhubarb compote in your local supermarket, try creating it yourself. Combine fresh rhubarb with caster sugar (6:1 ratio) in a pot and bring to the boil. Cook slowly over low heat until the rhubarb breaks down and the sugar melts.

Once your compote has cooled, strain it for later.

For your bellini, pour 30ml rhubarb compote into the bottom of a Champagne flute and add the strawberry liqueur.

Top with cold Champagne or prosecco.

Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

Recipe and image by Ms Polka Dot.