Christmas baking & traditions
12 December 2022
It’s that exciting festive time of year when you get the kids together and show off your baking skills making delicious family favourites and following those recipes passed on through generations.
From timeless classics to new inventions, it's always lovely to share this time of year with the kids and family. Ask your child to throw on their apron, roll up their sleeves, and get ready for Christmas with festive recipes for kids, whether you're making edible Christmas gifts with them or encouraging them to help you in the kitchen, or even a Christmas bake off if they are brave enough!
Christmas cake is a long-standing tradition that started back in the 16th century. The tradition has been carried on through families for years. Some people have even adapted the recipe. In addition to frosting, mixed spices, powdered sugar, orange zest, and other ingredients, there are many varieties of Christmas cake that are particularly popular throughout the holiday season.
There are many benefits of baking with kids and that makes it even more fun:
- Improves motor Skills
- Aids communication and social skills
- Helps with reading and writing
- Improves maths skills
- Helps with science
- Healthier than shop bought
Baking is like art at home and a moment to get creative with children. And, of course, there is the added benefit of creating something simply delicious for the whole family to enjoy!
We caught up with a few of our team and #frogsquad to see what their delicious traditional bakes are this time of year:
Spiced pecan pie
(as seen on Saturday Kitchen)
Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL
We caught up with celeb chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL who regularly appears on cooking television shows such as BBC One’s Saturday and various other shows on television and radio. In 2018 Cyrus appeared on BBC One’s Royal Recipes to recreate the pudding that was served by him at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee function.
Cyrus shared a delicious warming spiced pecan pie recipe perfect for this time of year. Cyrus suggested less sugar for the pastry,
Prep time - 30 minutes
Cook time - approximately 30 minutes
Total time - 1 hour
Serves - 8
For the pie filling:
- 125g (4 ½ oz) butter
- 100g (3 ½ oz) golden syrup
- 100g (3 ½ oz) muscovado or soft brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 300g (10 ½oz) pecan halves (divide into two lots; 150g that will go in the pie, and 150g that will be used as decoration)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to personal taste)
For the pastry:
- 185g (6 ½ oz) plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 90g (3 ¼ oz) salted butter (chopped)
- 2 small cloves (finely crushed)
- 3–4 tablespoons chilled water
- Serve with vanilla ice or fresh cream (optional)
- First, make the pastry. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the ground cloves.
- Using a spatula, mix in the measured water a bit at a time until a dough forms. Bring it together with your hands, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 15–20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry so that it’s large enough to line a 23cm tart tin and overhang the sides by about 2cm.
- Crumple a sheet of greaseproof paper and use it to line the pastry case. Fill with baking beans, uncooked rice, or chickpeas.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and bake for 8–10 minutes.
- Set aside to cool slightly, then remove the paper and beans.
- Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
- To make the filling, put the butter, syrup, and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl until light and frothy.
- Gradually pour in the warm sugar mixture, folding it together with a spatula as you do so.
- Chop half the pecans and stir them into the egg mixture along with the cinnamon.
- Pour into the baked pastry case and arrange the remaining pecan halves on top.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 12–15 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
- Set aside to cool and firm up.
- Trim off the excess pastry, then remove the pie from the tin and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh cream.
Festive Dairy-Free Yule Log
Taberna, Frog Team
For those of you who follow a dairy-free diet fear not….we have this amazing tried and tested yule log which Taberna bakes around the festive season. We have to say it’s passed the test, as The Frog Team is always up for food tasting in the office. Why would you miss out on a delicious dessert during this season?
Prep time - 30 minutes
Cook time - 10 - 30 minutes
Total time - 40 - 60 minutes
For the sponge:
- 4x large eggs
- 65g self-raising flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g caster sugar
For the ganache:
- 1.5 cups of chocolate chips
- 6 tbsp of coconut milk (the cream from a can of full-fat coconut milk)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the sponge:
- Scoop the cream from a can of coconut milk and heat in a saucepan over low heat
- Place chocolate chip in the pan and stir well until melted
- Add the vanilla extract
- Let sit to harden up (Put in the fridge if necessary)
- Uncurl the Swiss roll and remove the paper
- Spread the ganache inside and re-roll tightly
- Spread the remaining ganache on top and sprinkle with icing sugar
For the ganache:
- Preheat oven to 200c, light grease a 13x9in swiss roll tin, and line
- Whisk eggs and sugar until frothy (about 4-5 mins)
- Sift flour and cocoa powder into the bowl & fold with a metal spoon
- Bake for 8-10 minutes
- Dust the work surface with icing sugar and put the cake onto the paper and roll
- Leave to cool completely
Frog Squad Venla and Jaakko- Finland
Our Frog squad Venla and Jaako loved preparing oat cookies with dad their dad, Tuomas. These warming oaty cookies can be baked all year round. For the festive season, why not leave them all plated up for Santa and his reindeer with a glass of milk? This recipe is easy to make without adults' supervision (except for the baking)
Prep time - 15 minutes
Cook time - 8 - 10 minutes for baking (per sheet)
Total time - 45 minutes (one hour with dishes)
- 100 g butter
- 3/4 dl sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2dl wheat flour
- 1 dl oat flakes
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanillin sugar
- (a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom)
You can add some dried cranberries or raisins to the dough if you prefer.
- Melt the butter
- Add sugar and egg and the mixed dry ingredients. Mix into a smooth dough.
- Take small blobs with two spoons and lift them onto baking paper.
Snowmen Stacked Biscuits
Frog Squad Katie- UK
Our newest member of the Frog squad has been enjoying baking with her mum, Louise. They bake these lovely treats during Christmas. Katie loves stacking the snowmen and the best part is eating them!
Prep time - 25 minutes
Cook time - 12 minutes (decorating time 12 minutes)
Total time - 60 minutes
- 200g plain flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 100g (4oz) butter, softened and cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 1 medium egg
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 1 x 500g pack ready to roll white fondant icing
- 2 tbsp seedless jam
- black writing icing
- orange colouring or orange fondant icing
- Preheat the oven to gas 5, 180°C, fan 160°C. Place the flour into a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix it together. Add the butter and rub it with your fingertips to form fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively whizz in a food mixer. Add the egg and mix well to bind into a soft dough.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 4mm thickness and stamp out 8 x 11cm rounds, 8 x 8cm rounds, and 8 x 5cm rounds, placing them onto 2 lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 8-12 mins until the edges just turn golden and the centre is still pale. The small biscuits will cook quicker than the large biscuits so watch them carefully during cooking and take them out when ready.
- Allow cooling on a wire rack. Roll out the fondant icing on a surface lightly coated with cornflour, to a thickness of approx 4mm and, using the same cutters, stamp out the same sizes and quantity of rounds as the biscuits.
- Lightly brush the tops of each of the biscuits with a very thin layer of the jam right to the edges and place the relevant icing circles onto the same size biscuits.
- Now place all the large 11cm iced biscuits onto a board and top with a tiny smear of jam in the centre. Then top with the 8cm iced biscuit and again top with a tiny smear of the jam in the centre, then top with the 5cm iced biscuits to make the snowmen. Draw faces on each using black writing icing and make tiny carrot noses with any icing remnants coloured orange or ready-made orange icing.
Granny’s Rich Dark Christmas Pudding
Shelley, Frog Team
We caught up with Shelley from Frog Bikes who asked her mother for a copy of her “famous” Christmas pudding recipe. It is best if mixed and left to rest for a week, then cooked well in advance of Christmas. It then only needs re-heating on the big day. Once cooked, the puddings last for a long time.
“We’ve had really delicious ones more than a year later!”- Shelley
Prep time - 45 minutes
Cook time - 4 - 6 hours in advance and then 2 hours on the day of consumption
Total time - approximately 7 - 8 hours
Makes one large pudding (2lb basin) and one small (1lb basin)
- 85g plain flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 85g white breadcrumbs
- 85g vegetarian suet
- 50g ground almonds
- 150g soft dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp each of mixed spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon
- 50g prunes
- 50g carrots
- 250g sultanas, raisins, or other dried fruit
- 1 apple
- Juice & zest of 1 orange
- Juice & zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- ¼ pint (150ml) stout
- Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add the breadcrumbs, suet, ground almonds, soft dark brown sugar, and spices.
- Finely chop the prunes and grate the carrots and add to the mix with the dried fruit, mixed peel, apples, lemon, and orange zest.
- Beat the eggs and stir into the pudding mix, with the lemon and orange juice, treacle, golden syrup, and stout. It should have a reasonably moist and loose texture but if it appears dry, add more stout, or fruit juices. Taste it to check for full flavour and richness. Add more spices to taste, if it needs a little “livening up”.
- Now the uncooked mix can be refrigerated for up to a week to mature.
- To cook the puddings, butter and lightly flour the pudding basins. Fill each one ¾ full with the mix and lay a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the mixture. Cover with baking parchment, muslin, or foil and tie it on firmly, leaving a fold to give the pudding room to rise; you’ll need to tie the string firmly around the top of the pudding bowls to keep the lid on. Steam over boiling water for 4-6 hours (the longer you leave it, the richer it will taste). Keep topping up the water from time to time. You can also steam each pudding in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid in an oven at 120’C for 4-6 hours, with the pudding bowl sitting in a few inches of boiling water. Again keep checking that it’s not boiling dry.
- Once cool, you can keep them in the fridge or a cold, dark place for months. Keep the original greaseproof paper/foil wrapping on, don’t be tempted to unpack them.
- When you want to eat them, keep the wrapping in place, and steam in a saucepan as per the original cooking method, for 1½-2 hours and serve with lots of custard, cream, or brandy butter.
Nadine, Frog Team
Nadine loves baking these sticky sweet treats during Christmas, especially with the kids passing on the tradition which originally came from her mother-in-law. These have been tried and tested by the frog team and were delightful.
Prep time - 30 minutes
Cook time - 40 minutes
Total time - 1 hour 10 minutes
For the syrup:
- 600ml water
- 600g sugar
- 200g honey
- 3 cloves
- 3 sticks of cinnamon
For the dough:
- 500g flour
- 150g fine semolina
- 150g sugar
- 250g sunflower oil
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tbsp baking soda
- 150g fresh orange juice
- orange zest
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
For the topping:
- 1 bag of chopped walnuts
- sugar and cinnamon to taste
- Prepare the syrup, boiling water, sugar, and spices for about 10 minutes. Add the honey and let it cool down.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Mix flour, semolina, sugar, and baking powder in one bowl.
- Mix orange juice, spices, and baking soda in a second bowl. Add in the oil.
- Mix all the ingredients together (by hand or on the lowest setting).
- Form balls, place them on a baking sheet, and press them down gently with a fork. The form should be oval and about 4-5cm long.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Immediately, soak each hot Melomakarono in the cold syrup for about 20 seconds and then place it on a platter (There might be some leftover syrup that can be added depending on preference or used to sweeten something else)
- Sprinkle with chopped walnut, cinnamon, and sugar mixture.
Pepparkakor Swedish Ginger Thins
Frog Squad, Elis, Alves, and Ines- Sweden
In Sweden, our frog squad has been super busy with their mum Emelie. They were working incredibly hard to get their Pepparkakor Swedish ginger thins ready for the season.
Prep time - 40 minutes
Cook time - 36 minutes
Total time - 1 hour 16 minutes
Servings - Makes 110-130 biscuits, depending on the thickness
- 250 g Butter, salted at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tsp Ground Cloves
- ½ Tbsp Ground Ginger
- ½ Tbsp Freshly Ground Cardamom
- 180 g Caster Sugar
- 40 g Golden Syrup
- 60 g Molasses (Black treacle)
- 75 ml Water
- 500 g Plain Flour
- 1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- Royal icing
- Blend the butter and all the spices in a large bowl.
- Heat the sugar, molasses, golden syrup, and water until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes and pour over the butter mixture. Cool to room temperature.
- Blend the flour and bicarbonate and then stir into the butter and sugar mixture. The mixture is fairly loose but it's now going to be refrigerated for roughly 8 hours, divide into 4 and wrap in clingfilm. This dough can be kept in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Oven 190°C fan. Take only a small amount of the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough 2mm thick. Stamp out your shapes with your chosen cookie cutters. With the help of a thin-bladed knife, transfer them carefully to lined baking trays. Bake once you’ve filled a tray. Bake the biscuits for 5-6 minutes. They should start to feel hard around the edges as they cool and eventually become really crisp – they need to have a nice ‘snap’. Store in an airtight container for several weeks.
- If you would like to ice your biscuits, take 30g of royal icing and add a small water until you have a smooth paste that you can pipe with. I make the icing in batches as it begins to harden fairly.
Anthony, Frog Team
Anthony loves a no-bake recipe as it’s great with the kids and the best part is that there is lots of chocolate involved. Anthony enjoys making Mendiant, chocolate treats. You can try and make these and gift them to friends and family. Traditionally made in France, Mendiants are chocolate discs decorated with nuts and dried fruits to symbolise the four mendicant or monastic orders.
Recipes for this dessert, which is usually made around Christmas, have varied from the standard pairing of nuts and fruits in favour of including seeds, fruit peels, and other ingredients. Some have adapted the recipe according to preferences.
Prep time - 10 minutes
Cook time - no cooking required, but set in refrigerator for 20 - 30 mins
Total time - 30 - 40 minutes
- 1 cup of Chocolate- dark, milk, white
- Toppings- nuts, seeds, dried or freeze-dried fruit, shredded coconut, chia seeds, flaked sea salt, crystalised ginger, mini chocolate chips (use a contrasting chocolate flavour)- or whatever you fancy!
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on the stove.
- Temper the chocolate if you would like to nice glossy sheen and snap when made.
- Use a spoon to make 12 chocolate rounds on a lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle your favourite toppings on the chocolate rounds. Lightly press the toppings onto the chocolate so that they are firmly set in the chocolate.
- Let the chocolate sit on the counter or in the fridge until set.
- Voila, enjoy!
Stained Glass Christmas Tree Cookies
Yes, cookies that resemble stained glass! These cookies would be ideal for a holiday arts and crafts activity. Prepare to surprise your relatives and friends with these cookies. After baking, create a hole in the top, insert a ribbon, and hang the cookies from the Christmas tree. They look beautiful when the bright lights shine through.
Other resources and links
Recipes: Christmas recipes with the kids
Recipes: Christmas tree biscuits
Christmas recipes: Mr Todiwala’s Recipe
Activity: Christmas Activity Pack
Blog: Sustainable Christmas Ideas
Podcast: BBC Good Food baking podcast
Tag us so that we can follow your baking inventions @frogbikes #frogbikes!