Monday, December 3, 2012

The Christmas Baker

Christmastime is here again... I've just decided I'm going to try and incorporate as many one-liners from Christmas songs into this post as possible. Since I preeminently have decided to write about all the things I plan to bake for different events this season, that could be rather difficult. Due to my astounding ability to get decidedly off-topic, perhaps it won't actually be that hard.

I love the Christmas season for a lot of reasons: Starbucks' Peppermint hot chocolate (it's like drinking a York Peppermint Patty!), *NSYNC's Christmas album, cinnamon in everything, Christmas Eve, wrapping presents, buying presents, giving presents, clementines - side note: this is the first Christmas in 3 years I can eat as many clementines as I want without overdosing on potassium. This is great news! -, Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey circa 1992, joy-love-peace and goodwill toward all men, parties with friends, family home for Christmas (though all mine that live away are staying in their B cities), Cat Grass Chia Pet for Rosie, Zoo Lights, Temple Square lights, tree lights, the movies, and the baking.

Oh yes, the baking. I'm sure that in another life I was a pastry chef. I bake when I'm stressed. I bake when I want to impress someone. I bake when it's convenient and when it's not. I love to bake almost as much as I love to sleep. I love holiday baking because I love the flavors. Cinnamon, orange, hazelnut, peppermint, ginger... such winning flavors and so much that can be done with each and every one of them.

It's only December 3rd and I've got a full slate of Christmas baking ahead of me. First of all are 4 dozen cupcakes for the church gathering. I'm bringing 2 dozen and I volunteered my mom for 2 dozen which means I'm bringing 4 dozen. She is the pie genius. I am the cake master. So I'm going to make 24 cinnamon cupcakes with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and 24 devil's food cupcakes dipped in a dark chocolate peppermint ganache. Yes please.

Next on the slate is Grandma Bulmer's Christmas Cake. My grandmother, Mollie Smith, was British. We has specific British food traditions at Christmas, namely sausage rolls, jam tarts, Yorkshire Pudding, English trifle, and Christmas Cake. Grandma Bulmer was my great-grandmother and this is her take on fruit cake. i do not like it. Neither does my sister. But my mother does. And in memory of my grandmother, who died 6 years ago on the 14th, I'm making a secret batch at my sister's house under a clever rouse so my mother won't know. Here's the skinny on Christmas Cake: candied cherries, golden raisins, regular raisins, currants, pecans, almonds, orange juice, nutmeg, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder, smidgen of salt. Bake approximately forever and freeze for a month, then eat. I'm not going to do the whole freezer thing because I did not think ahead and make Christmas Cake in mid-November so it would be ready mid-December. I think my mother likes it fresh anyway. And since she and my dad may be the only ones in a twenty mile radius that like it, she can certainly freeze some and have it mid-January. I do not like Christmas Cake. but I do love my mother and she does like Christmas Cake, and I'm looking quite forward to carrying on my grandmother's tradition.

That tradition will actually be carried further with The Hobbit Party Heather and I are throwing before we go to the midnight premier of The Hobbit. We decided that hobbits eat British food, so that's what we're making. Ideas include jam tarts, sausage rolls, individual sticky toffee pudding, Yorkshire pudding, English tea scones... I have a plethora of recipes at my disposal because of my British heritage. A few years after my grandmother died, my mother copied my grandmother's handwritten recipes and compiled them into a little booklet she gave everyone a copy at our annual Smith family party. It's very cool to see these recipes written down in my grandmother's writing, with titles like "Soup!" and "Stew!", her Diabetic adaptation of English Trifle, and a pastry recipe that calls for "1 lb. of lard (NO SUBSTITUTES!)"... this from a woman who wouldn't weight 80 pounds soaking wet in wool clothing. Her recipes and Heather's and my baking abilities will make this Hobbit party spectacular. So will the Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit. This time maybe I'll have some competition.

Also on the docket is mini orange pound cakes and possibly mini pumpkin chocolate chip loaves, peppermint brownies, one large sticky toffee pudding, and maybe eggnog cupcakes. I'm still deciding on those. My sister is making a Yule Log, which my 3 years of junior high French taught me to call a Buche de Noel, which she also made last year and it was so good. I'm sure she'll also make sugar cookies. She makes them the best. I'd like to make Linzer cookies and fill them with raspberry, and I'd like to make an English trifle, but those things may have to be saved for another time, another year, another season. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good bite!

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me... Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we'll have to muddle through somehow... Glory to the newborn king! Joy to the World! The Lord is come, let Earth receive her King... Come and trim my Christmas tree, with some decorations bought at Tiffany... So this is Christmas, what have I done... pine cones and holly berries, poporn for you, apples for me... There's bound to be talk tomorrow - think of my life long sorrow - at least they'll be plenty implied - if you caught pneumonia and died... Noel, noel, noel, noel, born is the King of Israel.

Watch Love Actually and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.


  1. "Love Actually" is next up on my list of Christmas movies. And where can I find you to eat some of these delicious treats you'll be making?! Maybe I'll show up to your church party...

    Also, how is the new place treating you? Nice and quiet? :)

    Love you cuz!