A thing I learned last week: a group of mothers, their ever-so-slightly wild toddlers, a vat of chai tea, bucket loads of greenery and some cookie cutters; doth a wonderful craft morning make.
I am working on lots of interiors features at the moment which are due to be published next Spring, which is extraordinarily exciting but also extraordinarily stressful too. As a result my Christmas crafting, something I normally relish, has been rather miserly. So when my friend Rosa invited us over for a Crafternoon (well, it was in the morning, a, err, craftermorning?) I probably responded quite overzealously. Adding toddlers to the mix is an unexpected quirk, I realize, but with the right combination of crafters vs kid watchers, we were all able to leave with at least something hand made. The kids made Christmas cookies using Pepperkaker dough, and a whole lot of mess with glitter, and the adults made wreathes. Here is a little snippet of the morning. It felt so so good to step away from my laptop for a morning and actually make something, especially with Frankie. So good in fact that I had a misty-eyed moment or two along the way.
None of us have ever made a ‘proper’ wreath before, but with the help of some copper wreath rings, we made some really rather marvellous concoctions.
Garden greenery: Ivy, Holly or Rosemary all look lovely and dry well.
A copper wreath ring- incredibly cheap on good ol’ eBay
Twine or green garden wire
Strong scissors of secateurs
1. Cut your greenery into small chunks- no longer than around 6 inches.
2. Bunch together and tie it onto the ring, making sure not to crush too many of the leaves (or you’ll end up with a flat bit.)
3. Keep going until you’ve covered your wreath.
The prettiest wreathes had thicker foliage or a cluster of berries at the bottom of the ring. You could also add wool pompoms like I did last year.
Rosa used a recipe she found in The Guardian for Pepperkaker and they were delicious. Once the dough is made, it lasts in the fridge for weeks, so you could double it and make batches of fresh biscuits whenever you need them. For ease, i’ve copied the recipe below.
Makes 30–50, depending on your cookie cutters
150ml golden syrup
250ml soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
175g butter, softened
150ml double cream
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
750g plain flour, plus more for dusting
1. Beat the syrup, brown sugar, spices and butter in a big bowl until soft and smooth. Add the cream and beat again. Sift together the bicarbonate of soda and flour, then mix it into the butter mixture. Flour a work surface and knead the dough well, then wrap in clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator overnight. At this stage, you can leave it in there for weeks.
2. The next day, or when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Roll out the dough really thinly on a floured work surface and cut out with whichever cookie cutters you fancy. Place on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Bake for about eight minutes, then leave to cool on the baking parchment on a wire rack. Recipe by Trine Hahnemann- Scandinavian Baking