Category Archives: Holiday
Happy New Year to you! I hope that you had a wonderful break from your normal routines. We sure did enjoy ours. It was very full of baking, travel, and spending time with good friends. Now that it is over, I can feel just how good it was to take a break from the everyday work of our regular lives. We really needed that physical and mental break!
Also, now that I am not a crazy person who bakes every moment of every day, I have really enjoyed revisiting my other hobbies: quilting and knitting. On the quilting front, I was able to get my charity quilt for do.good.stitches organized for machine quilting. I’m doing simple straght-ish lines because my machine is really basic and doesn’t really do free motion quilting that well.
I do really love all the blocks that came in for this quilt. I’ve got all the horizontal lines done and just need another afternoon or two to get the vertical ones done as well as the binding. The only trouble is that I really need to do the quilting on the dining room table in order to be able to have enough space to move it around. Unfortunately, the dining room is also the most used space of the house! Well, maybe I can convince the boys to go somewhere else to work for a day or two if I give them enough chocolate!
This week, I also took an afternoon to take a hard look at all my knitting projects and my yarn. I took out every work in progress and asked myself if I really liked the yarn and wanted the finished product. After ripping out three projects, I was left with a few that I felt could be finished rather easily and quickly. A couple of dedicated knitting evenings meant that I had a handful of things that needed a bath.
Clockwise from the top right are: Fraxinus from Ysolda’s 2016 club, Mareel from Knitworthy3, an 1898 hat that I gave to the husband for Christmas, a cowl that I made from a blanket strip from Blanket Statement, and in the middle is a really old Andean Chullo hat that just needed its crown finished.
I’m really happy with all of these, except for the Llama hat. After blocking, it turned out too big for anyone. I started that hat years ago and let’s just say that my stranded knitting skills have greatly improved since then and I am not happy with how uneven it looks.
My happiest finished object of the bunch has to be the cowl I made from the unfinished blanket strip. Oh, how I love blankets, but Oh, how I hate to knit them! I thought maybe a club knit along atmosphere would help me with that, but alas, though the spirit was willing, other projects were just more interesting. As I was holding it in my hand, wondering if I should rip it out, the thought of turning it into a cowl suddenly came to me. It was just the right length. Eureka! Fifteen minutes later, I was sewing in the ends and giving it to my older son who expressed an interest in it. I just love it when things like that happen.
With my Mareel shawl, I was able to use the new blocking pads and wires that the husband gave me recently. They worked like a charm! Blocking shawls is not always my favorite thing to do, so anything that makes it faster, more accurate, and easier is great in my book. I especially like the fabric that has 1 inch grids that came with the blocking mats. With that underneath the shawl, it was easy to make the points symmetric–something that is always challenging to do with a shawl.
Oh, and I almost forgot! I did manage to finish a secret sweater project for the husband for Christmas.
I designed the sweater as I went along, but couldn’t really talk about it here because it was, you know, a surprise. The most challenging part of the sweater was sewing in the zipper along a steeked opening. I used a sewing machine, which has a tendency to push stitches along as it sews, so even though I basted in the zipper, I had to redo it to make the colorwork pattern line up properly.
Also, I am worried that the steek will start to unravel as the garment is worn, even though I reinforced it with two lines of sewing–time will tell!
Overall, I am happy with it, though there are a couple of things I would do differently if I were to do it over again. The collar does not quite come up far enough and it is also a bit tight when fully zipped. He’ll just have to go for a casual, partially zipped look when he wears it! The important part is that it fits, which is always a worry when one is knitting a surprise sweater.
What about you? Have you been doing any organizing or clearing out? I’ve got some more to do in my sewing room, but that will have to wait for another day. I’ve got a little startitis to work through.
Hi All! Just popping in to announce the winner of the Christmas Treat Box Giveaway. I used the random number generator to help me pick the winner and it chose post 67, which is Laura C. with this post:
“I’ve seen these cookies before but never had any. Glad the machine was fun and easy to use”
Well, Laura, there are some pizzeles in the box I just shipped off to you, so I hope you enjoy them and the other treats as well!
Thank you to all of you for being faithful readers and commenters. I wish you could be here to enjoy a piece of cake with me. Our event on Saturday ended up being cancelled due to weather, so we’ve had to eat the whole cake by ourselves, but I would have loved to share it with you. You all make writing this blog a lot of fun!
Today, despite getting off to a late start, has been fairly productive. My candied orange peel is drying now.
And the next batch of panettone dough is made and rising (very slowly). Do you see how stretchy and sheer the dough is? Heavenly! I know it’s only Monday, but the week is looking good so far! How’s your week looking?
Christmas is a week away and I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot left to do. Thankfully, I have a pretty clear week in which to get them done. Unfortunately, I sort of ran out of time this weekend and there are still too many balls in the air to have a finished topic today. However, I can show you a few things that I am hoping to get done in the next few days.
The first one is to finish up this batch of candied orange peel. There’s lots of recipes out there for making candied orange peel. Here’s a good one. Orange peel is a pretty essential ingredient in a lot of my Christmas baking, but it’s also fabulous to eat on its own. It’s also good dipped in dark chocolate!
Next on the agenda is to work on making another batch of panettone. I made a batch last week using a new recipe, but it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked. It was a recipe I had in my files that I definitely got off the internet, but now I can’t find it. Funny.
Anyway, it was good, but not quite the texture we’re used to, so I want to make a few adjustments and try it again. I may be able to talk about it later this week if it works out!
In the meantime, this brings us to the end of my 12 Days of Christmas Blog series. It’s only one week until Christmas! For one more entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway, leave a comment here before noon eastern standard time tomorrow (December 19). I’ll announce the winner in the early afternoon and hope to get that box shipped out soon after. Thank you so much for joining me these past 12 days! See you tomorrow!
This is one of my favorite cakes to make and not just during this time of year. We eat gingerbread all year round because it’s good and shouldn’t just be limited to just one month out of the year.
This one is dark and spicy with bursts of candied ginger throughout.
But, the thing that makes this gingerbread extra special is the lemon glaze. The zinginess of the lemon goes so well with the spicy mellowness of the cake. You want to be sure that your icing is fairly thick or else most of it will just fall off. This happened to me the first time and I had to redo it, which is why the cake pictured looks like it has two icings.
The cake tastes better if it is made a day ahead of time. I made this cake for an event tonight, so I don’t have any pictures of it cut right now, but if there are any leftovers I will add a photo or two tomorrow.
That’s all for now. Sorry to be so short today, but it’s been a busy few days and I need a little lie down before going out tonight.
Be sure to leave me a comment for another entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway. I think it is mostly packed up now and just waiting for the winner’s address. I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day! I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas tradition.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing
adapted from the Standard Baking Co., Portland ME
2 3/4 cups (13.25 ounces) all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (4.5 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mild molasses
1 1/3 cups cold water
1/4 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 3/4 cup (5 ounces) powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan or spray with Baker’s Joy. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour and spices.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the large eggs and beat to blend. Beat in the light molasses. It will look grainy.
Add half of the dry ingredients and beat until blended. Beat in half of the water. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat until blended. Add the remaining water and mix until mostly incorporated.
Stop the mixer, give the bowl a good scraping down. Then, add the chopped crystallized ginger and beat the mixture again on medium speed for at least a minute.
Transfer the batter to your bundt pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the glaze:
Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to get a thick icing that drops in mounds (you don’t want it too runny or it will just run right off–I did this the first time).
With the cake still on a rack, pour the icing evenly over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides.
Today’s treat is not baked, but very tasty and easy to make. It amazes me sometimes how much we are willing to pay for chocolate truffles when it’s not terribly hard to make them at home.
The thing that makes these so easy is that they are rolled in a coating and not dipped in tempered chocolate. Tempering chocolate is a tricky business that involves quite a bit of precise temperature regulating. If you eliminate that step, though, you get a treat that even kids can make.
In fact, that’s just what my kids did yesterday and today. They each chose a flavor for their truffles. One chose peppermint and the other mexican chocolate.
I was busy shuttling back and forth between the two of them so there are no pictures of the chocolate mixing process. The recipe I used can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking Chez Moi. However, there’s lots of similar recipes out there if you want to try them.
Rolling the ganache into balls was messy, but it doesn’t really matter if they are done evenly because it all looks good in the end after they are rolled in their coatings. The peppermint ones got rolled in ground up white chocolate, while the Mexican ones got a cocoa powder/cinnamon/chili powder coating.
Because these are not coated with tempered chocolate, they have to be stored in the fridge. They taste better if you leave them out for a while to warm up, though. The boys are planning to give some of their truffles away as gifts to their friends. That’s only if we don’t eat them all first!
I’ll be sure to include a few in the Christmas Treat box that I am giving away in just a few days. Be sure to leave a comment to be included in the drawing. (If you need the rules, here they are. Tell me about your favorite chocolate. My favorite chocolates to eat are from Chuao. They have a passionfruit truffle that is really yummy!