As I stepped through the door the overwhelming smells transported me to a place of delicious decadence. I was here to cook and I was about to get my hands on, and my taste buds around, some of the most amazing ingredients.
This is the third year I have signed up for a Christmas Cooking class in December, (it’s sounding like a tradition) and today’s class was all about German Christmas Cookies.
I was invited along by my wonderful friend Anke. Anke is German and we often discuss the many traditions she has grown up with. This class was such a beautiful way to share in a glimpse of her Christmas food traditions while I indulged in my own.
We were early, allowing for a quick browse in the shop selling the many ingredients we would use in today’s class. I glanced at bottles with names I could not pronounce and marvelled at the enormous range of spices on offer.
We were welcomed in to class by the delightful Ina. German born and oozing enthusiasm for her homeland’s rich culture, she brought to the class a splendid authenticity as she told countless stories of her childhood. While perched on my stool, across the ginormous kitchen bench, I continually found myself leaning in toward Ina. Held tilted and soaking up her every word.
I was imagining myself on the other side of the world.
Snow is gently tinkering against the window, illuminated by the Christmas lights flashing on and off. My Kitchen Aid mixer is whirling in the background as the children line up at the bench, cookie cutters and rolling pins at the ready. I am sipping on my mulled wine, it is warming me from the inside out. The house is cosy from the heat of the oven and rich with the sweet smells of biscuits baking.
I was ready to begin.
The morning began with a sample plate of all the biscuits we would be baking today and a beautiful cup of Gluhwein (Mulled Wine).
Then it was our turn.
The simple and yet incredible tip to roll your dough to an even thickness, use some chopsticks.
After enjoying my new rolling pin trick I had my first tray of biscuits complete, Lebkuchen.
Lebkuchen is sweetened using honey and is often seen hanging from stalls at German markets. We all decorated a star and mine is now proudly hanging in my home.
Vanillekipferl are crescent shaped, sugar biscuits and definitely my favourite on the day. These biscuits are always made using ground nuts and the pistachios in these made them exquisitely divine.
Spekulatius are traditionally baked on St Nikolaus Day’s Eve (5th December).
They are a crunchy, flat biscuit and are stamped with decorative images. A new technique for me and one I know my children will enjoy helping with.
I left the class filled to the brim with the spirit of Christmas. I ate way too many biscuits while enjoying the company of two wonderful friends as we listened to, and recounted our own, stories of childhood Christmas adventures.
Yes Christmas themed cooking classes will continue on as a much loved tradition for me.
What are your food traditions at Christmas? Any favourite recipes or tips to share? Please do.
Christmas a fabulous time of year.