At the time right before holidays slowing down, letting go the old and welcome the new seem to be a challenge that is impossible to accomplish.
In any case I try, even if I receive at least three newsletters every day saying “only… days left until Christmas”, written in a final countdown style. Even if I have to knead, cut and bake kilograms of linzer cookies dough for friends and family. Even if I have to go shopping for a few little surprises and traffic is huge and there are now parking places… Still. What I need to keep is my inner quietness and peace.
Actually to be honest, I am smiling, both inside and outside. Step by step our house shows its new face every day a little bit more and this itself is enough reason for me to see light everywhere around me. One day there is roof, the other day only the wooden structure remains without tiles , then one day later it is also gone. Now our house looks like a cube instead of its usual gingerbread house appearance but the new roof is already in progress, it will be similar to the old one, but without rafter bored by bark beetles, worn and loose tiles and vespiary.
I am going to miss our attic, but it will transform into an attic bedroom with a special atmosphere and good-hearted ghosts.
I decided that instead of a difficult cake or cookie this week I am going to bake Christmas tree ornaments for you in the spirit of “slowing down”. I remember a special holiday from a few years back, when I lived in Málaga, Spain and I was expecting my boyfriend, Áron and my friends, Szilvi and Zsolt, who all arrived a couple of days before Christmas. We didn’t have a tree because there wasn’t any available, I didn’t want to waste money on tasteless Christmas decoration so I decided to make everything on my own. I glued aluminium foil on a carton paper, cut star shapes form it and attached them with yarn to each other. It became or window decoration. We found some wooden slats next to a shop which was used for packaging then thrown away. Áron created a Christmas shape from the slats and I stitched little hearts from red felt, those were the ornaments. Although I roasted fish, the complete meal was not really special or typical for Christmas but it didn’t matter. The secret lied in simplicity.
I discover the recipe of gingerbread cookies in an old pastry book by Váncza which is illustrated by a graphic with cookies hanged on a tree. “This is it!”, I think and start preparing the cookies immediately because what else could fit more to my slow Christmas concept like these gingerbread cookies, decorated with almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts and hanged to the Christmas tree instead or beside of the usual ones.
And the fact that it is an easy and quick recipe is only the icing on the cake.
Edible Christmas ornaments: gingerbread cookies
(based on the recipe from the book “A mi süteményeskönyvünk” by Váncza)
250 g honey
200 g plain flour
10 g baking powder
2 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground clove
grated zest of a lemon
a handful of blanched almonds
a handful of unshelled pistachios
2 tablespoons roughly chopped hazelnuts
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons water
Warm up honey and let it cool down a little bit. Mix flour, baking powder, clove, cinnamon, lemon zest, add egg and honey and knead well. If the dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes- 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 ºC. Roll out the dough to 1/2 cm on a well-floured surface. (according to the original recipe it should be 1 cm, but I found it too thick) Flour the cookie cutters as well and cut any shape you want, or use a pastry wheel to cut rectangular. The dough is quite sticky so I place the cookies directly to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Heat up water, dissolve sugar in it and brush the top with the syrup. Decorate with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios and bake for 8-10 minutes, until it gets golden brown. Use a ribbon to hang the ornaments to your Christmas tree.