Christmas Cookie Culture
Posted on December 12 2018
My favourite part of the festive season is when the children are on holidays and excited about preparing for the arrival of Santa! We always kick it off by baking Christmas cookies...a treasured Christmas tradition in most countries across the world. Did you know the history of Christmas cookies traces back to Medieval European biscuits, when ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruit were first introduced to the West?
I was first introduced to Christmas cookies by a dear German friend when studying in Sweden. Fate brought us back together when she settled just down the road from us here in London. Every year she invites friends from different parts of her life representing the melting pot that is London, with ladies from England, Wales, Germany, Poland and Australia. Everyone brings their own dough to create and share their unique traditional Christmas cookie. It’s a wonderful afternoon blending cultures and traditions with recipes, Christmas carols and mulled wine.
As soon as my children were old enough to bake, I began with this lovely tradition in our family too. Every December, we invite friends over to make Christmas cookies. To keep it simple for the kids, I prepare 2 batches of sugar cookie dough in advance. I separate the dough into individual parcels for each child, so upon arrival they can get straight to the fun bit – cookie cutting! I have been collecting different cookie cutter shapes for many years and am always amazed to see how the children use them – did you know that an upside-down ginger bread man can become a reindeer head? This important job always involves singing along to Christmas Carols at full volume!
As soon as the cookies are in the oven its time for the inevitable dance break to ‘All I want for Christmas is you!’ while I tidy up and lay out icing tubes in a variety of colours and toppings such as red and green sprinkles, white stars etc.
Professional tip: I always feed to children a light meal while we are waiting for the cookies to cool otherwise the cookies start disappearing before they have seen even a sprinkle!
Once cooled the children are ready to get creative and (and sometimes go crazy) with freestyle decorating. Every year their creativity surprises me and I often have a personal favourite. This year it was a baby gingerbread man with a red Christmas nappy!
For the best sugar cookie recipe you cant’t go past the Hummingbird Bakery recipe – the dough is very easy to work with and delicious!
Please share your favourite recipes and family traditions with us in the comments below!