I don’t usually make sugar cookies at Christmas, I get overwhelmed by the whole process. Mixing,chilling,rolling out the dough, cutting, and then decorating. It really is time consuming. I have my tried and true simple cookies that I make every year and I’m always happy to serve them. But this year early on my husband was really talking up his favorite sugar cookies his Mom always made when he was a kid and still tries to bake even now at 90 years young. I thought about it and decided to bake some sugar cookies this past Christmas. Only I took three days to do the process. Day one I mixed and chilled the dough, day two I cut and baked the dough, and day three I iced and decorated. The cookies stayed fresh for a solid week or more. It was much easier then trying to do all of that in one day. My husband loved the cookies, but no cookie could be as good as his Moms 😀
I haven’t had much time to relax at home and bake in a while now. I woke up on a mission this morning to bake hot cross buns for my mother in law Helen. I can’t believe it’s that time of year again! Helen really enjoys hot cross buns. I’ve always purchased them at work it’s so easy to just pick up a package. I had them in my hand yesterday but decided to bake them myself knowing I had the next day off. I made hot cross buns for the fist time last year and was thrilled with the results. Today I pulled out my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and followed that recipe. I’m so glad I decided to make the effort. It was so rainy here today. The perfect way to relax on my day off. My Husband Joe will deliver the buns to Mom tomorrow. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed making them.
I am truly enjoying this Fall season. I especially loved picking up these apples on my way home from Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. My husband scouted out an apple orchard and with the help of our GPS we found it. There were so many choices of apples to pick from. I can’t even remember all the names. We got a bag and just started filling it with different varieties of baking apples and a few extra for eating. I always use a variety of apples when baking pie, cobbler, or crisp. The flavor is just unbeatable. I used a special family recipe it’s just the best! The ride home was just beautiful with all the colors of the changing leaves. I made my apple crisp the day after we arrived home. I couldn’t wait! It took a while to get this posted, I do hope you give it a try.
Hope your having a wonderful Fall season.
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My snowy backyard.
I was at the book store one day last week and to my delight my eyes came upon a new magazine: SIFT, a King Arthur Publication. As I thumbed my way through I saw beautiful pictures of bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits, pizza, sandwiches, gluten free baked goods, and a section on a Mediterranean feast. The photos all looked so appealing, but one picture really had my attention: hot cross buns. I was hoping to make hot cross buns for the upcoming Easter season this year to share with my Mother-In-Law Helen. She just loves hot cross buns and buys them every year. I read over the ingredients and method for preparing the dough and the baking. I happily purchased my new magazine and couldn’t wait to bake the buns. Later that week we had a snow storm and I knew it was the perfect day for baking. The recipe called for either apple juice or rum, and I had rum on hand so I used that. It also called for mixed dried fruit, and I used a mixture of golden raisins and California raisins. I chose to mix the dough by hand instead of the mixer. When baking bread at home in such a small batch I love to get my hands in it. The dough was easy to mix and the process was relaxing. I did some reading during the rise times. It was so hard waiting for those buns to cool, but I wanted to enjoy the little taste of icing piped on the top to get the whole experience of the tasting. It was worth the wait! The bun was soft and tender. The fruit was tasty with the infusion of the rum, and who doesn’t love the taste of icing? I love the buns and the magazine. I will be patiently awaiting the next issue, but ‘till then there’s lots more great recipes in this issue to try.
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These muffins smell so good baking in my oven this afternoon. I have always made these muffins just around Thanksgiving. The beautiful fresh red cranberries just beg to be added to muffins, breads, and fresh cranberry sauce of course. Who could resist them! I lived in Washington State many years ago and I would bring these muffins to my Sunday school class. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them. When you bite into this muffin it’s moist. The orange zest and cranberries give a burst of fresh tangy flavor and the nuts give a delightful crunch. Once you try these tasty muffins you will want them every year. When see those beautiful red cranberries, you won’t be able to resist!
Cranberry Orange Muffins
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ Teaspoon baking powder
½ Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ Teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
½ Cup shortening
¾ Cup Fresh orange juice
2 large eggs beaten
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ Cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 ½ Cups pecans, chopped
Bake 375 degrees in a pre-heated oven
Bake 15-18 minutes
In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and the orange zest
Cut in the shortening
Stir in the orange juice, eggs, and vanilla
Stir just till combined, add cranberries and nuts. Gently stir just to bring ingredients together. Don’t over mix. Line muffin pans and fill 2/3 full with the batter. Makes 1 ½ dozen.
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I was watching a cooking show a few days ago on the cooking channel. The host was making delicious sandwiches with French baguette. I found myself day dreaming of a favorite outing with my children. When we lived in England we would go into town on the weekend. Our destination was the High Street in Reading. There was a lovely coffee shop that sold scrambled eggs and bacon in a French baguette. The baguette was lightly toasted and spread with soft butter. Then freshly scrambled eggs and bacon were stuffed inside. The tasty sandwich was wrapped in parchment so you could manage to eat and walk around the High Street and window shop. My children loved this sandwich with the exception of my youngest son. Timothy was not a fan of eggs but he loved bacon. His sandwich was buttered and stuffed with just bacon. I still make it with just bacon for him to this day.
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I rarely bake cookies any more. There’s never anyone at home that wants to eat them. We all seem to be watching our waist. So when an opportunity presents itself I’m right there ready to bake. I love chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven with an icy cold glass of milk. They need to be soft in the center with a little crispiness around the edges, have semisweet chocolate chips, and be full of walnuts. I usually do half plain, half with walnuts. Not everyone shares my love of nuts. I slightly under bake my cookies; I find that they keep better. I don’t want to bite into a hard cookie the next day. These cookies stay just moist enough, making me feel confident that I can bake them the day before an event. I baked these cookies for a family gathering this past week. When I was leaving the tray was completely empty, which put a smile on my face.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup organic pure cane sugar, or granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (if you love the cookies very chocolaty add 3, I use 2)
2/3 chopped walnuts, optional, or divide batter and make half plain and half with nuts just use ½ cup walnuts in that case.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the butter, brown sugar, pure cane sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Mixture will be light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix an additional 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture just till it comes together. Add the chocolate chips, and walnuts if using. Mix on low for about 25 seconds, just to mix together. At this point I refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop place cookies 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotate cookie sheet at the 7 minute mark. I like mine light and just golden.
Cool on a wire rack.
Yields 4 dozen cookies
Store in an air tight container
Bakers note: I love to infuse my sugar with a vanilla bean for these cookies. Keep a container on hand for cookies and other bake goods.
I consider room temperature butter to be at least 65 degrees. I give the eggs 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
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