Christmas is upon us again, and as per tradition, it’s when I channel my inner domestic goddess and whip up a bunch of baked goods as Christmas gifts. After last year’s Christmas cookies, I initially wanted to do a whole gingerbread Nativity scene, but just the thought of rolling out, baking and decorating three sets of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, sheep, cows, lambs etc got me exhausted. So instead, I took the easy way out and assembled a basket of baked goods. That way, I just had to prepare one of each item, divvy it up, and package it nicely.
Golden rule of baking – presentation is everything. What I lacked in the taste of the goodies, I made up for with the packaging, heh. A helped me design a name and logo – BakeTooMuch – and we printed out these cards with the names of the items and storage/reheating instructions. I also bought nifty little muffin and cake boxes, cos they just look so much prettier than disposable plastic takeout containers.
Sundried tomato and parma ham focaccia
Blueberry crumble cake
Banana and chocolate chunk muffins
I’m quite pleased that I managed to bake everything within a day – just over 4 hours, actually. I planned all my tasks to maximise my time, so I was baking the blueberry crumble cake whilst the focaccia was resting/proofing, chopping the chocolate and bananas while the cake was baking… you get the picture. Not to mention washing up everything in between. Of course I’d practised everything at least once beforehand, so it went fairly smoothly without major hiccups. And yippee, I finally managed to achieve a whopping muffin top on the muffins!
After a day to recover, it’s back to the kitchen on Christmas Eve, this time for the turkey. Again, I planned everything in 30 minute blocks, so from about 1 pm I was pretty much checking my list and functioning on autopilot – 1.30: prepare flavoured butter and truss turkey. 2.00: Put turkey in oven. 2.30: Baste. 3.00: Baste and tent with foil. Etc etc.
I also made the stuffing this year, because I don’t like the taste of pre-packaged stuffings. There’s always too much herbs or chestnuts or dried fruit for me. I got sausage meat from The Butcher (where I also got the turkey), and made a sausage, bacon and mushroom stuffing. I baked it in a loaf pan rather than stuffing the turkey with it, because I didn’t know how the stuffing would affect the cooking time of the turkey. The stuffing turned out ok, albeit a bit too crumbly. At least the taste was alright.
As for the turkey, I should have trusted my gut instinct, but my paranoia got the better of me as usual. Those additional 5+ minutes in the oven were its downfall, and as a result it wasn’t as moist and juicy as I would’ve liked. I keep telling myself this, but next time I swear I’ll do better.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!