Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas Essentials

After a week of being very ill, I am finally feeling better. Not 100% yet. I am still fighting off the dregs of that infection, but well enough that I could at least bake a couple of essential Christmas treats in our house.

First, Panettone.


The husband tells me this is the best one yet. I think I need to make it again this year. I don’t think I will hear any objections. Making the recipe just once a year is not really enough to adequately perfect a technique. Also, I did not feed my sourdough starter as many times as usual before mixing the final dough so it was a tad more sour tasting than I would like.

Second, Holiday Babka.


Ok, this is the first time I have made this. Basically, I took my Sourdough Not Flatbread recipe and added some rummy fruit mix and some extra grated citrus zest to it. Then, I rolled it out, slathered it with a chocolate butter mixture, and shaped it like a babka. It is fabulous and I will definitely be making this again. I may even post a recipe, but I guess it would be a little late for most of you. Hmm. Maybe next year.

Thirdly, but not finally, Pandoro.


Ok, This dough did not behave like it has in years past so it has also not turned out the same. The dough seemed uneven and never really smoothed out the way it was supposed to. I may have to make this one again, too, just to see if I can figure out what went wrong. There was virtually no oven spring. Odd. We don’t know how it tastes yet because this is our Christmas morning treat, but at least if it is bad, we have the other two treats to fall back on.


Anyway, this baking has used up all my energy, so we are ordering chinese food delivery for Christmas Eve dinner–no dishes, yay! My dear readers, may you have a lovely and sweet holiday, wherever you are!

Quick Announcement

Hi there! I’m just popping in really quickly to announce to winner of my cookie tin giveaway. I have no idea how to do a screen shot or whatever it is that people do to show the random number generator thingy, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I used it to randomly pick comment #7 as the winner of the cookie tin. Here’s the winning comment:

Alhbooks | December 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Ooh, Orange Flower Water is magical. I have some in the cupboard for no better reason than to sniff it occasionally. The cookies look irresistible!

Coincidentally, today is also Alhbooks’ birthday, so happy birthday and congratulations for winning the tin!

Thanks for all the well wishes regarding the tooth problem I am having. It is getting incrementally better; today is the first day in a week that I am not feeling miserable. I’m still feeling terrible, but it is an improvement, so I will take it for now. One thing that I have discovered with this experience is that I cannot knit through pain, so even though I have spent many hours just sitting around the past week, I have virtually no knitting to show for it. You know it has to be bad when a knitter is unable to knit. I did get to hug some yarn for comfort, though.


This is some Neighborhood Fiber Company Yarn that I got during the cyber Monday sales. It’s worsted weight in a color called Charles Village and it is quite squishable. I love the color and we used to live in Charles Village, so it was made for me, see?


Now, I hope I can get some knitting done soon because I do miss it.

Day 12: Gingersnaps + TWD

It was great fun to read everyone’s comments yesterday about their favorite Christmas movies. I had forgotten some of them, such as A Christmas Story. There are so many hilarious and memorable scenes from that movie, especially the double dog dare scene, haha. And I, too, loved Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas when I was a kid, though I haven’t seen that in a long time. On a more recent note, I also loved that sappy movie with Hugh Grant, Love Actually and that other one with Jude Law, which I can’t remember the name of right now (something holiday?).

Anyway, I’d love to just sit down and watch all of these movies and knit for hours on end, especially with the miserable week that I have had that is continuing into this one. Remember that tooth trouble I was having? Well, it’s only gotten worse. I won’t go into all the details, but I will just say that a month long toothache during the holidays makes it difficult for a person to get into the holiday spirit. Still, I am grateful for having had the self imposed cookie making schedule and my kids who motivate me to get up and get things done so that their holiday doesn’t get ruined because of my misery.


I have to say that I was skeptical about today’s cookie, gingersnaps from Baking with Julia. First of all, the ingredient amounts seemed miniscule, so right away I decided to quadruple the recipe. Then, the dough was really sticky, which didn’t concern me too much because I always roll out dough between wax paper or parchment. I tried both with this one and parchment seemed to work best.


Once the dough was rolled, I froze it until it was firm and had no trouble cutting cute little star shapes. The trouble came with the molasses glaze. It didn’t sit on the dough well and when it baked, it was not pretty. I don’t know if it is just me, but glazing cookies before they are baked just does not work out for me.


So, I threw the glaze away. I over baked the first pan because they didn’t look done after 7 minutes. I ended up baking them for about 12 minutes and they were very hard and crunchy.


The second pan, without glaze, baked for exactly 7 minutes with my convection fan on and they were much better; not as hard, but still crunchy around the edges.


After two pans of stars, I decided we had enough of those and started making shapes to go with our annual gingerbread house decorating party tomorrow. This year, I decided not to bake all the house pieces myself and bought the Ikea kits instead (horror!). What can I say? They are cheap and I decided I wanted to bake other things besides pan after pan of gingerbread. However, when I saw how firmly these gingersnaps bake up, I thought they would be good for trees and snowmen.


Some of the cookies are a little thin because I was trying to get enough for six kids out of the rest of the dough, but that’s nothing a lot of extra frosting won’t take care of. As for how they taste, I don’t know since they are too hard for me to eat, but the boys liked them and the husband said they were good and then ate a whole handful. They must be pretty good, right? You can find this recipe here. I highly recommend at least doubling it. Otherwise, it would be kind of a lot of work for not many cookies.

And now, this suddenly brings us to the end of my Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies series. Crazy, right? Don’t forget to leave a comment for a last chance to win a tin of cookies. One comment per post per person in the United States will qualify as an entry into the contest. I will give you until 9pm tomorrow night, December 18, eastern standard time to comment and then I will pick a person at random to receive a tin of cookies. I hope to ship on Friday, so be sure to check back to see if you are the winner because I will need your address to mail it. Don’t post any addresses here, I will get in contact with you if you are the winner.

Of the twelve cookies I have featured this week, which would be your favorite(s)?

Day 11: Jammers

Today’s cookie is kind of half cookie half pie, kind of. It is a signature cookie of Dorie Greenspan’s little pop up company Beurre and Sel. Every once in awhile in NYC, she and her son make a ton of cookies and sell them on a given day that is publicized mostly through social media. There are a few places in New York that carry the cookies regularly, such as Russ and Daughters.

Basically, a jammer is a butter cookie, topped with a dollop of jam and surrounded by buttery crumb topping. What’s not to like? It’s a fancier version of a thumbprint cookie, which my boys both love, so it was no surprise that they loved these cookies. I always make some kind of jam cookie during the holidays because, well, I make a lot of jam throughout the year.


Plus, I always think they look festive with their jewel like centers. Now this recipe is the only cookie I have ever made that calls for using a muffin tin. The first pan I did worked great and they came out ok, but I really dislike cleaning and wanted to make it easier. So, I tried using muffin papers.


They worked like a charm and gave the cookies a fun ruffly edge. These aren’t the best keepers because of the jam, but even a few days later, they are still good, just a little softer.


Best of all, the dough and the crumb topping can be made aheqd and frozen. See, I already cut out a bunch of bottoms and stuck them in a container between layers of wax paper. They will wait in the freezer until I want to bake some more. Once the components are made and frozen, it just takes a few minutes to get the cookies ready to bake.


I think you need to go bake some of these jammers. You can find the recipe here. This is a new favorite of ours. It is especially good with homemade sour cherry vanilla jam. Don’t they kinda look like mini pies?


Tomorrow is the last day of cookies. Can you believe it? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a tin of cookies. The tin is being filled up quickly.

What’s your favorite holiday movie? The husband and I always watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. I also love The Sound of Music, though for the life of me I can’t figure out why that’s considered a holiday movie.

Day 10: Walnut Spice

Here’s another cookie that I find that I cannot do without during Christmas time. I think I may be the only one who really loves them in my house. It’s not that the others don’t like them; they just like other ones better. But not me. This one and the ginger cookies from earlier are two cookies that I make mostly for myself.


They are crispy and nutty and spicy and very good keepers. You can find the recipe here. I did not do the egg wash with this recipe either. I wish I had more time to say more, but we’ve got lots going on today. You know how it is this time of year!

What is your favorite holiday activity? I love to sing carols, especially old ones.