Baking Holiday Treats
The holiday season is a wonderful time to cook home-made treats! Children like to help create (and sample!) delicious goods made in your kitchen. The fragrance of spices fills the air and the spirit.
Here are a few of my favored holiday recipes. These treats also make delightful gifts or additions to potluck holiday dinners.
A favorite of mine, this gingerbread recipe is extremely reliable, the house smells marvelous as it is baking, and it is delectable.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Grease and flour an 8" square baking pan. (I like to use a flower-shaped pan for extra eye appeal.)
- In a large mixing bowl, mix brown sugar and butter. Mix in baking soda and molasses.
- Add flour, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well.
- Stir in egg.
- Add boiling water. Mix well.
- Pour into prepared pan and smooth top.
- Bake gingerbread until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean; approximately 40 minutes.
- Place on rack still in pan to cool for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Place a plate on top of the gingerbread; flip over and tap bottom of the pan to knock the gingerbread out.
- Place cake stand on top of ginger bread; flip. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if you wish. Serve warm or cool. A dollop of whipped cream is a perfect addition.
Amish Friendship Bread
You can make the starter for Friendship Bread and give it as a gift or you can give the baked bread as a gift. Note that if you are giving the starter, you are dealing with a live culture that produces gas. You don't want to pack this in luggage or take it on a plane. The culture keeps growing and can escape its confines if it is in a small container. It is best to place a cup of the mixture in a pint-size container, stick a bow and a copy of the instructions on it, and deliver it immediately.
If you get to the point where you want to take a break from the daily upkeep of the starter mixture, freeze the new batch of starter that you set aside on Day 10. When you are ready to begin again, bring the starter out and let it thaw at room temperature. Once it has thawed, begin with Day 1 instructions.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart glass, plastic, or ceramic container, combine 1 C flour and 1 C sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 C milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand. It will start to bubble as the yeast gets to work. Leave loosely covered at room temperature. Consider this Day 1 of the 10 day cycle.
Once you have made the starter, you don't have to make it again, just follow the steps in the cycle below.
To the remaining batch add 2/3 C oil, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 C flour, 1 C sugar, 1¼ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir well.
Pour into two well-greased and sugared loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Old-Fashioned Cream Pie
My grandfather introduced me to this pie during a visit to his farm in Kewanna, Indiana and I've loved it ever since.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place sugar, egg, half-and-half, flour, whipping cream, butter in mixer or blender, beat until thoroughly combined. Pout into pie shell and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until center is set. Check by jiggling the pan a little.
Oil Pie Crust
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Place dough in the pie pan; and press it out evenly with your fingers. (I often use a piece of plastic wrap over the dough to keep neat and tidy. Remove the wrap before going onto the next step.) Fill with filling and bake. You can also make this crust and refrigerate it before use.
Quick Peanut Brittle
Peanut Brittle has been a favorite holiday treat for a very long time. It is easier than ever to make with a microwave.
- Grease a baking sheet.
- In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Microwave for 5 to 7 minutes depending on the power of your microwave until mixture is bubbly and peanuts brown. Stir in butter and vanilla, microwave 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet. Let cool 15 minutes or until set. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Change up this granola by adding different dried fruit and nuts. Adding the fruit at the very end keeps it from getting tough.
- Place oven rack in upper middle position. Pre-heat to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and nuts until thoroughly coated.
- Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet and press it down with a stiff metal spatula until very compact.
- Bake until lightly browned about 40 to 45 minutes. Rotate pan about halfway through cooking time.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Have a happy holiday season!