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Monday, 12 December 2016

My Favourite Christmas Things by Jane Linfoot, Author



Favourite Christmas Food:

Talking of Christmas favourites, I do love mince pies. But my special Christmas treat is/are coffee cupcakes with toasted almond topping. I find the coffee flavour is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the buttercream, and the crunch of the almonds are delicious. It’s no coincidence that in Sequins and Snowflakes, Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, head bridesmaid Sera often turns to coffee cupcakes to rescue her at stressful times. (See below for the recipe)
Favourite Christmas Drink:

I know lots of people love mulled wine, but I’m not too keen. If you’ve ever tried Pimms as a summer drink, you’ll know it’s delicious. My next door neighbour got me hooked on the warm winter version, which is made with Pimms No 3 Winter Cup and hot apple juice, and known as a Winter Warmer.

In Sequins and Snowflakes, Alice, the bride loved her Winter Warmers too, because they were warming and relaxing. Try them, you won’t look back. (Recipe below)


Favourite Christmas Film:

The first time I watched Love Actually I didn’t like it that much. But I’ve watched it at least a hundred times since, and it just gets better and better. And now Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas if I haven’t watched it. I love the way the stories intertwine, and the wry humour.


Favourite Christmas Song:

I have to admit I’m a sucker for Christmas songs. Sera, the heroine in Sequins and Snowflakes loves her Christmas songs too, and she sings along whenever she can – which is quite a lot. My own personal favourite is Merry Christmas by Shakin’ Stevens, because it takes me back to a magical dressage to music I once saw in the days when my children rode ponies. And because I’m a softy, I also love Lily Allen’s version of Somewhere Only We Know that went with the John Lewis advert. That song makes a significant appearance in my Christmas book too. It was summer when I wrote the book, and on the sunniest days I’d sit in the garden writing, listening to Christmas tunes to get in the festive mood. I think the postman thought I’d gone mad.


Favourite Christmas Present:


At the very end of Sequins and Snowflakes, everyone exchanges Christmas presents. I loved writing this part of the book, because it was so interesting deciding what gifts each of the characters would give. You can express so much about a character by the gifts they choose – and how they feel about the gifts they receive.

Presents on my aspirational wish list might include spa treatments. In real life I’m just as likely to be thrilled with a pair of new wellies.

Favourite Christmas Animal:
The animal star of Sequins and Snowflakes is definitely Snowball, the pony who pulls the wedding carriage. He’s a white horse, (technically known as a grey) but everyone gets to make their own wishes on him.

As for me, my very first Old English Sheepdog came to me at Christmas. She wasn’t a Christmas present, but I have had and Old English in my life ever since. My first one was called Blizzard, which was a snowy name to go with her snowy white head. My current one is called Yoyo, named by the rescue she came from, because she was so bouncy when she was younger.

I also have cats too, but we’ll cover up their ears, because there are four of them, so we can’t choose favourites. 
 
Favourite Christmas Memory:

As a child, our family used to spend Christmas with my grandparents on their Yorkshire farm, which was somewhere I loved. I drew on those experiences for Daisy Hill Farm, the Cornish farm in Sequins and Snowflakes, where the wedding guests stay. When we were children, went to bed on Christmas Eve my grandmother always used to sneak out into the garden and ring bells. Once when I was quite small I remember looking out of the bedroom window onto a frosty moonlit garden, and seeing Santa flying past on his sleigh. Looking back, I think it must have been a lucky coincidence that a helicopter happened to be passing, but it had me convinced for years.


Favourite Christmas tree decorations:

Christmas trees are a big feature in the Sequins and Snowflakes book. In the hallway of the Christmas Country House where Alice’s wedding takes place there’s a huge Christmas tree, decorated with white ornaments, and Sera has the nightmare task of decorating that tree on her own. There are lots of smaller trees too, all decorated with strict colour themes, according to bride, Alice’s, orders. But Sera prefers her small tree in her studio, decorated with mis-matched decorations that belonged to their grandmother. Sera also loves hanging sea shells from the beach on her tree too, but that’s not something her uptight sister Alice would ever dream of doing.

Here in Derbyshire I always decorate the tree with something home made - biscuits in festive shapes are a favourite, especially with the dogs, who sidle past and help themselves.
 
Favourite Christmas Book:
Last year my favourite of the Christmas book crop was Never Kiss A Man In A Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson. I can’t wait to get my hands on this year’s pile.


Favourite Inspirational quote:

I really enjoy collection quotations, and have a special book I write them in. So this is my quotation for today, because it relates so much to Sera in Sequins and Snowflakes.

A girl knows her limits but a wise girl knows she has none, Marilyn Munroe

And one for Christmas...

When it snows you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels. Unknown


And here are the recipes...


Alice’s Winter Warmers
Ingredients:
150 ml Pimms No 3 Winter Cup
450 ml apple juice
(Basically one part Pimms NO 3 to three parts apple juice)
Apple slices
Orange slices

For large quantities, warm the Pimms and apple juice in a saucepan, then transfer to a serving jug, and add fruit slices.
Alice warmed hers in a pan, and drank it from a glass mug, usually without the fruit slices. At our house anything goes.


COFFEE CUPCAKES TOPPED WITH TOASTED ALMONDS.
Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
150g sugar
150g butter
150g self raising flour, sieved
3 eggs
Two heaped teaspoons instant coffee
A little warm water to dissolve the coffee

For the icing:
100g butter (softened)
200g icing sugar, sieved
Two heaped teaspoons instant coffee
A little warm water to dissolve the coffee

For the topping:
100g flaked almonds

Method for the sponge cakes:

1. Preheat the oven, 170C Fan/ Gas Mark 5/ 190C Electric. Prepare a 12 sectioned cupcake tin with your chosen cupcake cases.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, using an electric whisk.

3. Add the eggs, and mix again.

4. Add the sieved flour, and fold into the mixture until it’s all combined.

5. Put the coffee granules into a cup, and add a tiny amount of water. Mix until the coffee has dissolved, then add to the cake mixture. Stir gently until it’s all mixed in and the mixture is a uniform colour. You can very the amount of coffee, to give a darker or lighter cake.

6. Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling to about 2/3 up the side, to allow for the cakes to rise.

7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked all the way through. (Check by sticking a sharp knife in, it comes out clean when they’re done.)

8. Place on a cooling tray, and ice when cool.


Method for the buttercream icing:
You can make the buttercream icing while the cupcakes are in the oven.

1. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the softened butter and cream together.

2. Put the coffee granules into a cup, and add a tiny amount of water. Mix until the coffee has dissolved, then add to the icing. Mix until the icing is a uniform colour. Use more or less coffee depending on how dark you’d like your icing.

3. Spoon the icing into a piping bag, with the pipe of your choice. When the cupcakes are cool, pipe the icing in swirls on top of the cupcakes.

For the nut topping:

1. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan, add the nuts, and stir over a gentle heat until the almond flakes are toasted and golden brown.

2. Leave the toasted almonds to cool, then and sprinkle on top of the cupcakes as soon as they are iced.

As an alternative to almonds, walnut halves also work well with the coffee icing. You can pop these on top of the icing without toasting them

These are totally delish!!

About the Book


Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop: Sequins and Snowflakes (The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea)

The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

There’s sequins, snowflakes, and plenty of romance in this gorgeous love story. The perfect romance to curl up by the fire with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.

Click here to buy the new Christmas Book

Click here to buy the first book in the series Cupcakes and Confetti, The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea
A third novel in the series, Bunting and Bouquets, Summer at the Little Wedding Shop will be released in Spring 2017. The books are stand alone novels which can be read independently.

Author Bio
Jane Linfoot writes escapist books, with feisty heroines and lots of heart. She lives with her family and pets in Derbyshire, and loves hearts, flowers, and happy endings.
Author Page Facebook
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Twitter @janelinfoot
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Pinterest Find lots of Little Wedding Shop by the Sea boards here
Website: http://www.janelinfoot.co.uk

Thank you so much for joining us today Jane and a Merry Christmas to you.

Sincerely
Book Angel x


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