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.
What could be more comforting then ripe bananas baked into to bread. So sweet and so fragrant. This is one of my favorite fall treats.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add banana to the creamed butter and sugar. Then add eggs, vanilla, and spices. Add flour to creamed mixture.
Fold in walnuts.
Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve on your favorite plate and enjoy!
Banana Nut Bread
9 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed, you may use pure cane sugar if you wish
Cream the butter and the sugar.
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
Add to the creamed mixture.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg to the creamed mixture. Mix until blended.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Sift ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture. Mix on low till blended.
¼ cup whole milk
Add milk and mix on low to blend
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
Add walnuts to the mixture by gently folding into the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. A tooth pick inserted should come out clean and the crust will be golden. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Then cool until it’s warm on wire rack. Serve warm plain or spread with softened butter.
Bakers note: My ingredients were all at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.
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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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Scones are such a pleasure to make. I love that you can change up the liquid to get the taste and richness you would like. I have used whole milk, heavy cream, and butter milk depending on the scone I am making. The different flavors you can add are endless. Who wouldn’t love a moist and delicious scone? I serve scones at all my tea parties not just because it traditional, but because I love them. At my recent fall tea party I made cream scones with currents and flavored them with vanilla. They were served with homemade lemon curd, strawberry jam, and freshly whipped cream. My favorite topping is the lemon curd with just a dollop of whipped cream on top. It’s so delicious. I always start with ice cold butter and I am careful not to handle the dough to much so I don’t make them tough. Scones need to be moist and tender. I add and egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar to dress them up.
Cream Scones with Currents
2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ Cup granulated sugar
2 ½ Teaspoons baking powder
¼ Teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ Cup (12 tablespoons) ice cold unsalted butter, diced
¾ up to 1 Cup very cold heavy cream
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ Cup currents
1 Egg for egg wash
1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar, to sprinkle on tops of scones
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a wire whisk to sift the ingredients together. Add the ice cold butter chunks to the flour mixture and using a pastry knife cut the butter into the flour mixture till it looks like little peas. Add the currents; toss them into the flour mixture with your clean hands. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon just till combine. Turn dough out on a flour board. Knead just a few times to make a disk. Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough into a 12 inch rectangle shape. Then fold the dough turn it and roll it again you’re looking for a thickness of a ¼ inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the scones. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes.
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