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5 extremely easy baking recipes you can put to use over the Christmas holidays

Even the worst of bakers will struggle to mess these ones up.

1. Gingerbread Men 

shutterstock_540052426 Source: Shutterstock/Mikhail_Kayl

Something a little bit festive to start you off. This recipe is from Odlums and was created with children in mind which means that 1: You will definitely be able to make it yourself, and 2: You can bring any kids in the house on this journey with you, if you so wish. 

What you need:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 75g butter, softened
  • 75g light muscovado sugar
  • Half a teaspoon of bread soda
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Half a teaspoon of ground ginger
  • Icing pens, melted chocolate, nuts, dried fruit to decorate (optional)

Here’s a list of easy ways to separate the yolk from the rest of the egg, in case the thoughts of that are too daunting for you. 

What you’ve got to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy (If you’re unsure of how to do that, BBC Good Food have a video to help you out.)
  3. Add the bread soda, golden syrup and the egg yolk to the mix and stir it for a minute or two. 
  4. Sift the flour and spices into the bowl, and mix it until it is all blended together.
  5. Shape the entire mix up into a ball and knead it on your counter or chopping board until it is smooth. Then wrap it up and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out the dough and use gingerbread cutters to cut out the shapes. 
  7. Place them on a greased baking sheet with space between each of the men, before baking them for 10-12 minutes until they’ve risen a little bit and are golden.
  8. Then allow them to cool on a wire tray, and once that’s done you can decorate them. 

2. Banana Bread 

This recipe is from BBC Good Food, which if you haven’t visited before, is an extremely useful cooking website. Download the app and you can bookmark all kinds of recipes for future use. 

shutterstock_1022250931 Source: Shutterstock/Charles Brutlag

What you need: 

  • 50g margarine
  • 125g light or dark brown sugar (I have used regular caster sugar and nothing bad has ever happened to me or my banana breads, so that’s probably just a firm recommendation rather than a requirement).
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (the only way banana bread can really go wrong is if you don’t use ripe bananas – the browner, the better. BBC Good Food recommend baking the bananas in their skin in the oven while it’s preheating, but I have not tested this out and can’t promise that it’s idiot-proof)
  • 200g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (optional)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • Splash of milk

Tip: Whenever I make this, I usually chop up a few walnuts and thrown them in to add something to the texture. If you’ve got a very sweet tooth, you could probably do this with chocolate chips or dried fruit. Also, skip the cinnamon/mixed spice and just go with the vanilla extract if you prefer a sweeter banana bread. 

What you’ve got to do: 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C w/ fan. (If you never did Home Ec and underestimate the importance of preheating the oven, it’s essential when you’re baking, and you’ve got no excuse not to do it if you’re going to be prepping the rest of the ingredients in the kitchen anyway!) 
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin. (Do not hold back.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with a spoon until it’s well mixed and smooth.
  4. Chuck the egg in there (crack it first, obv) and then add the mashed bananas and beat it all again for a minute or two. 
  5. Fold in the sifted flour (and the cinnamon, if you’ve decided to use that too). Beat it all, and add a few drops of milk if it’s stiff. 
  6. Transfer the mixture into your greased loaf tin and make for 45 mins – 1 hour. (Keep an eye on it, once it’s browned and has risen and it LOOKS ready, take it out and stick a knife in it. If it comes out clean, congrats.) 

And that’s it. You can eat it warm or cold and it’ll last 3-4 days. 

3. Brown Bread 

shutterstock_504256762 Source: Shutterstock/Elena Zajchikova

If you’re sick of eating rubbish and want to eat a normal, nutritious piece of food over the Christmas holidays but don’t fancy going out to the shops at this time of year, you can make some brown bread with this very forgiving recipe

What you need for 1 loaf:

  • 400g stone-ground wholemeal flour
  • 75g plain white flour
  • 1tsp of salt
  • 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1tsp of honey
  • 425ml of butter milk 
  • 2 tablespoons of seed mix

Tip: If you don’t have butter milk at home (it’s the one thing I never have when it’s time to bake something, because it goes off so quickly and you can’t just leave it in the press for a few months, like all of the other ingredients) there are a number of fairly easy to prepare substitutes you can make instead, like milk mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. You can read about these alternatives here

What you’ve got to do:

  1. Preheat to 200°C or 180°C w/fan.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together – the two flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, egg, honey and oil until it’s all combined.
  4. Get a loaf tin and grease the inside of it with the oil, to make sure the bread slips right out once it’s baked. 
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour about a third of the milk mixture into it.  
  6. Mix it up until your hands become sticky. Be careful not to over-mix it, or it’ll end up tough. 
  7. Add the next third of milk and repeat the step above. Once that’s done, add the final third of the milk mixture. 
  8. At this stage, the dough should be wet enough to pour into the greased loaf tin. Do that and sprinkle the seeds on top. 
  9. Stick it in the oven for 45 min – 1 hour.
  10. Once it’s brown and it sounds hollow when tapped, it’s done. Just leave it to cool on a wire rack. 

 4. Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies 

shutterstock_656912437 Source: Shutterstock/Dobby Shutter

This recipe serves 1-12 cookies, depending on how determined you are to make one giant super-cookie (or how bad you are at spacing cookies out on a baking tray). Once again, it’s from BBC Good Food

 What you need:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 200g chocolate chips 

Tip: If you prefer bigger chunks of chocolate, just chop up a bar of chocolate instead of buying a packet of chocolate chips. You can mix white/milk/dark chocolate too if you do it that way instead. 

What you’ve got to do: 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Cream the butter and sugar (If you don’t know how to do that, click here)
  3. Add the egg and vanilla to the mix
  4. Sift in the flour and salt, followed by the chocolate chips
  5. Roll the cookie dough up into little balls, or roll it into a thick sausage shape and slice it to make neater cookies.
  6. Place the balls or slices onto ungreased baking paper and bake for 7 minutes if you like the cookies doughy and soft, or 10 minutes if you’d prefer the edges to be crispy and golden.
  7. Remove them from the oven and cool them down on a wire rack.

That’s it, you can eat them warm or cool and they can be stored in a lunchbox for a couple of days if, for some reason, you don’t want to eat them all at once. 

5. Very Indulgent Chocolate and Nut Brownies 

shutterstock_543635506 Source: Shutterstock/etorres

 

This isn’t a BBC Good Food recipe, surprisingly. It’s actually from this blog, but it’s tried and tested and a lot nicer than the brownies you make with a box of Betty Crocker mix from Tesco.

What you need: 

  • 280g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 75g cocoa
  • 75g plain flour
  • 225g plain chocolate
  • 115g white chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 115g hazelnuts or pecans

What you’ve got to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 20 x 20cm shallow brownie tin.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar, until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  3. Melt the butter and then whisk it into the sugar and eggs. 
  4. Sieve the cocoa and flour together, and mix it into the butter and eggs.
  5. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pain of hot water, and mix that into the mixture too.
  6. Once those ingredients have cooled down a little bit, add in the chunks of white chocolate and the nuts and stir the mixture to make sure they’re spread evenly. 
  7. Pour it all into your brownie tin and make it for 20-25 minutes, depending on how moist you like your brownies. 
  8. Take it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. 

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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