Thursday, 9 December 2010

A quick and easy Christmas present : a festive Christmas bread

This was the gift my best friend at Art-school handed to me proudly one Christmas, when she had just returned from a holiday in Ireland and when she had fallen in love with Irish sodabread and baking.
It's not the same bread, but it was such a lovely gift and a and delightful gesture that I wanted to share this with you as an idea for a present.
When you struggle to make a proper bread with yeast , Irish soda bread it's the way to go . It's extremely easy to make.
Wrap it up in cellophane with some baubles and a nice ribbon and you have the ultimate quick and easy Christmas present.
Here below is how you do it.....give it a try- you will love it !!
The ingredients -here below-are:
500 gram flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pint  ( = 2.3 dl  or 1 cup ) natural yoghurt .(  or milk into which you squeeze some lemon juice )
1 handfull of hazelnuts
2 handfulls of raisins
1/2 half handfull of glaceed merino cherries
1/2 half handfull of mixed peel 

How to make the bread:
Pre-heat the oven to 215 degrees Centigrade

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of flour and the salt. Add the hazelnuts, raisins, glaceed cherries and mixed peel to the dry mixture till these are all covered in flour.
Add the yoghurt, then mix the whole thing with your hands to get a decent mix ( it's a bit hard-going for an electric mixer).Keep paper towel handy to wipe your hands!It has to be mixed though so it is a consistent dough.Add some yoghurt if it is too dry, an add some flour if it is too wet.
You want to aim for a dough that you can hold in your hand without it sticking to your fingers, and that feels like an big fat old lady's soft arm -then you have reached the perfect mix.
Shape it like a round-ish ball, and place it on a greased or buttered baking tray. Cut  a cross in the middle with a knife.
If the bread is going to be good once it's baked, , the cut you made on the uncooked doughy bread should get bigger, wider and then and sort of fall open after a minute or so .That is what you need to happen.
It should look like this:

Bake the bread in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes.
It should then look like this:
Next stage is the present-wrapping.
Take a big piece of Christmassy wrapping paper and put it in the shape of a lozenge on your worktop.Place a cardboard box that is big enough to contain your bread on top of it like below:( I used an old box in which the Christmas crackers came last year which is the perfect size ) - like so :

Fold and glue the sides of the paper to the box- you will manage to cover the whole inside and outside this way.

Put some evergreen branches in the box on the bottom, then put your Christmas bread on top.
Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top of your bread, and place a few Christmas baubles next to the bread in the box.
Wrap up in cellophane and tie with a red Christmas ribbon . And there you have your quick and easy Christmas present!!

To remind you how you could use the advents biscuits ( which recipe you can find on  this post ) as decoration, I just wanted to show you a display on which I used them , all wrapped in cellophane with ribbons and displayed on some greenery.

and here is a detail.
So whatever you are baking this weekend, a Christmas bread as a present, or Christmas biscuits as decorations, I guess you will be busy!!  I am linking this to Marty's party.
Below some more pictures of Christmas decorating coming along at Modern Country Lady H.Q.
 This is the top of the blue dresser which you could see I did up in this post.
Christmas is the time when I get out my Christmas crockery as you can see.The wreath with the bears was made a few years ago but still going strong.
Happy baking, crafting and decorating and happy weekend !!
I look foward to your comments! Let me know what you think!


Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Oh my, the bread looks fabulous, so pretty and I am sure it is just delicious. It looks fabulous all wrapped. Your cloches are wonderful and your decorations are so lovely. Thanks so much for linking to the party. Hugs, Marty

Karena said...

How creative and heartwarming a gift!! Just wonderful!

Come by and enter my Giveaway from Fifi Flowers!

Art by Karena

Unknown said...

That is truly a great gift...and packaged beautifully. Loving the idea of advent biscuits. FUN!

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

Hello....We must be blog twins with our matching names!!! I LOVE soda bread. Isn't it yummy? And so easy too. Yummy and kind of recipe!!

It's SO lovely to meet another English blogger. Yay!! I'm your new follower too!


Inspired2cook said...

Gifts from the favorite kind! Your bread looks great!!!
Andrea from

Closer to Lucy said...

I love homemade gifts....especially the ones that I don't make!! Lol, you can make yourself at home in my kitchen whenever you're ready!!

Out hopping, come by Lucy's when you get a chance.

Michele {The Scrap Shoppe} said...

It looks so festive, and I just LOVE how you dressed it up with your packaging. Such a wonderful gift idea! Thank you for linking this up to Homemade Christmas!