It’s always extra special to present a homemade gift, and your loved ones will enjoy these delicious treats.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s always extra special to present a homemade gift, and your loved ones will enjoy these delicious treats.

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TIP: This mixture can be steamed in an 8-cup pudding basin, using the same method, for 5 hours, adding extra water as required. If liked, place puddings in a water bath, cover pan with foil and bake in a 160 C oven, 55 to 60 mins. Reheat in microwave one at a time on medium, 1 to 2 mins, until warmed through.

Individual Steamed Puddings

Prep 25 mins + soaking / Cook 1 1/2 hours / Makes 4

2 cups sultanas 2 cups raisins, chopped 100 g glace cherries, chopped ½ cup currants ¼ cup finely chopped glace ginger or mixed peel ½ cup brandy 250 g butter, softened, chopped 1½ cups brown sugar 4 eggs 1 tbsp marmalade 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup plain flour 2 tsp mixed spice ½ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted Custard, blueberries, to serve.

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180 C. Lightly grease and line four 2-cup pudding moulds with baking paper.

2. In a non-metallic bowl, combine fruit and ginger. Mix in brandy. Cover and set aside overnight.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in marmalade and vanilla.

4. Sift flour, spice, ginger and soda together into a bowl. Fold into creamed mixture with fruit mixture, breadcrumbs and almonds.

5. Spoon into dishes, leaving 1 cm at the top. Cover with pleated baking paper and foil, securing with string. Place in two large saucepans. Fill with enough water to come halfway up sides of moulds. Steam, covered, 50 to 60 mins, until cooked when tested.

6. Store, covered with foil, in a cool, dry place. Before serving, steam again using the same method for about 20 mins. Unmould and serve hot with prepared custard and fresh blueberries.

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TIP: While still hot, pour ½ cup brandy over cakes for added flavour and moisture. You could use 900 g dried mixed fruit, 100 g glace cherries and 1/3 cup mixed peel. Or add 200 g grated dark chocolate to the cake mix.

Christmas Cakes

Prep 35 mins + soaking / Cook 1 3/4 hours / Makes 6

3¾ cups chopped sultanas 1½ cups chopped raisins ¾ cup chopped currants ¾ cup mixed chopped glace cherries, plus extra, halved, to decorate 2/3 cup chopped dates ½ cup brandy 250 g butter, softened, chopped 1½ cups brown sugar 5 eggs 1 tbsp marmalade 1 tsp vanilla extract 2½ cups plain flour, sifted 1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted, chopped, plus extra, whole, to decorate Icing sugar, to dust.

1. In a large non-metallic bowl, combine fruit and brandy. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.

2. Preheat oven to very slow, 120 C. Line base and sides of six 10-cm square cake pans with two layers of baking paper, allowing a 2.5 cm overhang above rims.

3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in marmalade and vanilla extract. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

4. Fold half fruit and half flour into creamed mixture. Fold in remaining fruit, flour and almonds. Dollop carefully into prepared pans, smoothing tops. Decorate with extra halved glace cherries and extra almonds.

5. Bake 1¾ hours until a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean and dry. Cover cakes with clean tea towels and allow to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

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TIP: If preferred, use frozen raspberries in cake mixture – no need to thaw.

Coconut & Raspberry Cheesecake

Prep 30 mins + chilling / Cook 1 hour / Serves 12

125 g butter, softened 1 cup caster sugar 2 eggs 1 lime, finely grated zest 1½ cups self-raising flour, sifted ½ cup desiccated coconut 125 g extra-light sour cream 1/3 cup milk 125 g punnet raspberries, plus extra to serve Icing sugar, for dusting.

WHIPPED WHITE GANACHE 300 g white chocolate melts 2/3 cup thickened cream.

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180 C. Lightly grease and line base of a 20-cm round cake pan with baking paper.

2. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in zest.

3. Lightly fold in half flour and coconut, then half combined sour cream and milk. Repeat until just combined. Fold in raspberries.

4. Spoon mixture into pan, smoothing top. Bake 50 to 60 mins until cooked when tested. Set aside to cool in pan 10 mins, before transferring to a wire rack, topside up, to cool completely.

5. WHIPPED WHITE GANACHE Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat cream on medium until almost boiling. Pour chocolate over. Set aside 5 mins, stirring until smooth. Chill, covering, 30 mins, until just set. Beat 30 secs until light and fluffy.

6. Dollop ganache on cold cake and top with raspberries. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

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Shortbread Trees

Prep 10 mins / Cook 20 mins / Makes about 30

2 cups plain flour 1/3 cup pure icing sugar 2 tbsps rice flour 250 g butter, chopped 330 g packet royal icing mix Blue decorating sugar, to sprinkle.

1. Preheat oven to moderately slow, 160 C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

2. Sift flour, icing sugar and rice together in a bowl.

3. Rub in butter using fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Press the mixture together to form firm dough.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper until 5 mm thick. Using an 8-cm cutter, cut into tree shapes.

5. Arrange on trays and bake 15 to 20 mins until lightly golden. Cool on trays 5 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Prepare royal icing following packet instructions. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle. Pipe outline of trees onto biscuits, then pipe icing inside to fill. Sprinkle with blue sugar. Set aside until icing has set.

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Cranberry & Apple Granola

Prep 15 mins / Cook 20 mins / Makes 4

1/2 cups 2½ cups rolled oats 1 cup chopped pecans ½ cup pepitas ¼ cup shredded coconut ¼ cup maple syrup 2 tsps vegetable oil 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp mixed spice 2/3 cup dried cranberries 1/3 cup finely chopped dried apple.

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180 C.

2. In a large baking dish, combine oats, pecans, pepitas, coconut, syrup, oil, cinnamon and mixed spice, stirring.

3. Bake 15 to 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. Stir cranberries and apple through. Spoon into mason jars or small bags tied with string.

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For an even more creative gift, omit the icing sugar in the recipe and pack the shortbread trees with your favourite spreads. We suggest a few jars of uniquely-flavoured kaya, such as Calamansi Citrus and Sea Salt Caramel, from Kayamila (previously known as XO).

Or try making Parmesan and chive shortbread stars: Omit icing sugar; add ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, ½ cup chopped chives, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp water. The combi of these with the sweet kaya is delish! At $3.50 a bottle, from leading supermarkets.

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TIP: It’s important to store Turkish delight in extra icing sugar mixture, to stop it from sticking together.

Turkish Delight

Prep 30 mins + chilling / Cook 40 mins / Makes 36

4 cups caster sugar 4 cups water 2 tbsps lemon juice 1 cup cornflour ¼ cup powdered gelatin 1 tsp cream of tartar 2 tsps rosewater essence Few drops red food colouring 2 cups icing sugar mixture.

1. Lightly grease and line base and sides of a 20-cm square cake pan with baking paper, allowing sides to overhang.

2. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and 2 cups water. Stir on low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and cook, without stirring, brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, 20 to 25 mins until a candy thermometer reaches 125 C. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine cornflour, gelatin and cream of tartar. Use a balloon whisk to whisk in a little remaining water to form a paste. Gradually whisk in remaining water. Stir on medium heat, 3 to 5 mins, until mixture boils and thickens.

4. Gradually pour sugar syrup into cornflour mixture, whisking constantly (if mixture becomes lumpy, pour through a fine sieve into another saucepan). Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 mins until mixture is light golden and reaches 110 C on a candy thermometer. Stir rosewater and colouring through. Pour into pan. Set aside to cool, then chill overnight.

5. Sift icing sugar onto a tray. Using a lightly greased knife, cut Turkish delight into 3 cm pieces. Toss in sugar to coat. Store in an airtight container with extra icing sugar mixture.

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Festive Brownies

Prep 15 mins / Cooks 35 mins / Makes 24

150 g butter, chopped 300 g dark chocolate, broken 2/3 cup plain flour ½ cup cocoa 12/3 cups brown sugar 1 cup pistachios 150 g white chocolate, chopped ½ cup glace cherries, halved 4 eggs, lightly beaten ½ cup sour cream 1 tsp vanilla extract.

ROCKY ROAD 400 g Turkish delight, chopped 300 g marshmallows, chopped ½ cup blanched almonds, toasted, chopped ½ cup pistachios 1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted 450 g white chocolate, melted.

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180 C. Lightly grease and line a 18 x 28 cm slice pan with baking paper.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and 200 g chocolate. Stir on low heat till melted. Cool slightly.

3. Sift flour and cocoa together into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, nuts, white chocolate, remaining dark chocolate and cherries.

4. In a jug, whisk eggs, sour cream and vanilla together. Stir into flour mixture with butter mixture until combined. Pour into pan. Bake 30 to 35 mins until cooked when tested. Cool.

5. ROCKY ROAD Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine Turkish delight, marshmallows, nuts and coconut. Stir chocolate through. Spread over brownies base. Chill until firm. Cut into pieces. Store in airtight container in the fridge.