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Pulled pork brioche buns

So it’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2015. I’m not big on new year; I don’t make resolutions or feel the need to reinvent myself because the date is changing, although having a few quiet days at home over the Christmas holidays has given me chance to reflect a little as I mooch about the house. It’s nice to have a change of pace once in a while, to feel you have the time to do things properly and to enjoy the process, rather than rattling along getting things done, ticking off the list and dashing on to the next thing. It’s a feeling I’d like to have more often, so perhaps I’ll see if I can dedicate more of 2016 to taking my time over things.

This recipe is perhaps the definition of taking your time. There aren’t many recipes I’d recommend you start a day before you want to eat, but some things can’t be hurried. The inspiration for this came from a beef bun recipe I found online, but I was feeding non-beef eaters the day I made these and so the pork made a very successful substitute. It strikes me as I write this, that maybe these would have been an ideal new years party recipe, but they would certainly be a welcome addition to any weekend with friends or family. Read more

Cranberry clementine shortbread sandwiches

Christmas seems to creep up faster every year – I feel like I’ve barely done any Christmas baking this year and suddenly it’s here! This lack of baking hasn’t exactly translated into a lack of eating though. There is a near constant supply of mince pies in the office, fuelling me through those mid morning and mid afternoon slumps, which meant that when a baking opportunity finally arose I was actually feeling a bit mince pied out. So I made these little jam sandwich biscuits instead, an easy little mince pie alternative. They’re that perfect combination of light and fruity, yet satisfyingly buttery and crisp, with the added bonus of looking like little Christmas jewels.

You’ll need two Christmas shaped cookie cutters for this, one smaller than the other to cut a window out of the top biscuit. I used snowflakes, but any shapes will work.

Soften 250g butter then add 150g caster sugar. Mix for a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon or in a food mixer until pale and creamy. Add 1 egg yolk and the zest of 2 clementines. Finally mix in 300g plain flour until just combined. Roll into a ball, wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

Heat your oven to 160C (fan). Lightly dust your work surface with flour the divide the dough into two. Roll out the first ball until just a few millimetres thick and cut out shapes using the larger cutter, re-rolling the offcuts as needed. These will form the base of your sandwiches. Lay these onto a couple of non-stick baking trays and bake for around 10 minutes until light golden and crisp. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Meanwhile roll out the other ball of dough and again cut shapes out using the larger cutter. Then take your smaller cutter and cut out a shape in the middle. Carefully transfer these to more baking trays, they will be quite delicate with the middles cut out. Either re-roll the centres to make more biscuits or just bake them to eat as your little cooks treat whilst doing the icing.

Once all batches of biscuits are baked and cooled then they can be assembled. Put a small spoonful of cranberry jam into the centre of the bases and then add the tops.

Mix a cup of icing sugar with just enough water to form a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag and ice the tops as you like. My icing is far from neat but it still looks pretty. Add silver balls or other decorations as you like.

The jam with soften the biscuits a little so they’re best eaten fresh. I don’t think they’ll last very long anyway. Merry Christmas!

Makes about 20, depending how big your cookie cutters are. Takes about an hour, plus half an hour for the dough to rest in the fridge.

Shopping list:

250g butter

1 egg (just the yolk needed)

150g caster sugar

300g plain flour

2 clementines

1 jar cranberry jam

1 cup icing sugar

silver balls or other decorations


Equipment needed:

Festive cookie cutters

Baking trays

Piping bag