An email from a friend told me about the Christmas baking she’d been doing. I responded to her: You will be happy to know that even this grinch sees baking shortbreads as a must-do every Christmas. It’s even a want-to do.
One year I baked shortbreads and other delightful sweet nibblies in the company of Bill Richardson all afternoon. His show on CBC Radio probably didn’t last all afternoon, but that’s how I remember it. Since 2002, I’ve been getting together with my sister to do our Christmas baking. We often try out new cookie recipes (with varying degrees of success), but even if we try a new shortbread recipe (the one with grated orange peel and chocolate was yumm), we always make a batch of our traditional shortbreads too, using the recipe our mother always used.
Last year, we broke with tradition a little. We still made shortbreads, of course. But we’d finally used up the last of the colours-never-seen-in-nature cherries we’d always cut up to use as decoration. (We cut them into bits so small the same container lasted for years. Let’s hope whatever was in them helps preserve us even half as well.) Rather than going out to buy more glazed cherries, we decided to cut up little gummy bears that I happened to have on hand. (What would our mother have said!?)
The gummy bears melted into beautiful little circles of red, gold, and green in the middle of our shortbreads and we were convinced we’d found the perfect alternative. Until we sampled our product and discovered that baked gummy bears are 100% unchewable. They could be used by dentists for fillings.
This year we settled for patterns of fork-pricks or a sprinkling of coloured sugar. Not that shortbreads need any embellishment in terms of flavour, just a little something to make them prettier on the plate.
Do you have baking traditions that honour someone in your family at this special time of year? Have you started any new traditions with your own kids that you’d like to share with the world (well, the little corner of it that reads my blog anyway)?
I’ll just be off having a quiet cup of tea and a shortbread now. I hope my sister and my baking friend will join me, albeit some miles away.