Christmas, it’s on its way! Cakes, puddings, pies if you’re mad about sweet things it’s a wonderful time of year. But, there is nothing worse than baking in the 30c+ degree Australian summertime. That’s why you need a plan or perhaps a better explanation is a calendar. Because when it comes to December you want to be footloose and fancy free.

As much as I love baking and decorating (and the adrenalin that comes with a tight deadline) December is simply too busy for anything but last minute preparations. So let’s get the traditional things out of the way. Needless to say this schedule is totally flexible, break tasks down to a long weekend, or during a week whatever you prefer. I like to break tasks down into preparation one day and cooking on another. Whatever works for you. Just get it done. That way you get the best of both worlds; enjoying the fabulous holiday season and having fun creating, tasting and gifting some wonderful sweet treats.

1st September
Start soaking the fruit for the plum pudding. It takes less than 30 minutes and then you’re all done, until...

15th September
Spend the day chained to the stove waiting for the pudding to cook. It will be the longest 6 hours of your life, make sure you have plenty of distractions for yourself and any kidlets because you don’t want that pot to boil dry.

1st October
Make the dough for the mince tarts. This year we’ve decided to make 4 dozen mince tarts and once they’re gone, no more. 2 batches of dough will be done and dusted within 30 minutes. Pop in the freezer in small quantities so you can whip up half a dozen at a moment’s notice. If you’re making a gingerbread house mix and freeze the dough. Mix together the fruit mince. I store it in bottles in the fridge however the store-bought mince imho is just as good. Feel free to cheat a little.

15th October
Start soaking the fruit for the fruit cakes. If you have a fruit cake recipe that people love, think about gifting cakes for Christmas. Delicious fruit cake is hard to come by. Your friends will love you for it.

1st November (Melbourne cup long weekend)
Did you know that you should plant your tomatoes Melbourne cup weekend? Well you should also make your Christmas cakes Melbourne Cup weekend. I also make my gingerbread house over the long weekend (although not this year). Cup Weekend always feels like it’s the last leisurely weekend before the Christmas business really sets in.

So now we’ve got all the traditional things out of the way. It’s time to start thinking about all the new recipes, designs and trends you’ve been hoarding all year that you thought would be perfect for Christmas. My family and friends gift food so my list is unashamedly long.

Biscuits, yes they are traditional but this year’s contenders are a little bit different to the traditional snickerdoodles and macarons. I’m looking at a caramelised white chocolate biscuits, apple caramel slice and peppermint bark. Not Quite Nigella has a slightly different take on the gingerbread house with her cute Swiss roll Christmas cottage perfect for pre-Christmas afternoon teas.

It’s never too early to pin your Christmas baking inspiration, so I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to follow up on and get you excited about Christmas baking. Enjoy this time of year, because come January you’ll be torn between your desire to play in the kitchen and vowing not to turn the oven on until it drops below 30c degrees here in Australia.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

About Justine Spalding

Justine runs Australian website and newsletter The Sweet Source.  >> Visit Justine’s website