When you live in a country that doesn’t really celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, there’s nothing to hold back the floodtide of Christmas crap that Americans can usually avoid until the last week of November. John Lewis (English Macy’s) rolled out the Christmas decorations months ago, and I’ve been avoiding downtown Cambridge because of the crowds and queues.
But one thing I can always get behind is Christmas baking.
My mother makes roughly a million star-shaped sugar cookies for my parents’ annual Christmas party every year, and I borrowed her recipe (fun fact: you can’t buy shortening in England) and made a metric crap-ton of icing to go with it.
We made some seriously ugly cookies – just buttercream, no flood icing or piping icing or particularly fancy colours – but it was awesome.
As a bonus, we finally used my grandmother’s mini-brioche forms to make tiny little mince pies, which neither Ian nor I had ever had before. The pies are impossible to dig out of their little shells, but they taste pretty damn good and are the cutest little things you’ve ever seen.
This has been one of the best weekends I’ve had in England: Thanksgiving, plus a day of museums and a show in London, plus delicious sushi takeaway (I was nervous that it would suck, but it was pretty great), plus a few hours engaged in gainful employment, and then a day spent making the ugliest, most sugar-saturated, delicious Christmas goodies I’ve seen in a long time. Hurray!
What do the English use in lieu of shortening?
mary ritchie said:
“In the UK you can buy Trex.. a solid vegetable fat .. which is a similar product. ”
i just stole that sentence from a cooking site.
Lard and butter are other alternatives to shortening.
I don’t know why we Americans use shortening- I do because my mother did.
mary ritchie said:
so it turns out you can buy shortening in England- they just call it vegetable fat
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