Happy Christmas Eve and I'm just barely started! I was a big slug yesterday and laid around most of the day watching Stephen King's The Stand, okay well I've read the book so I watched and napped while Gene watched--all four parts in one afternoon! Felt good to slug out especially since my knees have been killing me. Whine whine.
But today I will bake in earnest and post all weeks about the things I've learned and succeeded and failed at. Hee hee.
I did have great luck with a new cranberry bread recipe from "The New Best Recipe" cookbook from Cook's Illustrated. We had a smaller party of just my brothers and sister and their kids on Saturday night and that was a huge hit with requests for more for the big family Christmas evening party. I think it's the combination of the orange zest with the cranberries that really swings that recipe into something special.
Since our Mom died many years ago, it's a big thing with us kids when i make the old-fashioned cookies and dishes we grew up with--it's the memories that help make our holidays special so in the depths of the closet I finally found the cookie press I bought years ago and reworked Mom's recipe for cream cheese almond star cookies like we grew up with. Our mom would make dozens of a dozen kind of cookies every year but but I'm not quite that motivated! They'll take what they get and they'll like it. :-)
I'm also a day late and a dollar short so I will be making the Daring Bakers Yule Log but not until today and, unfortunately, not in accordance with the directions. I told my family about it and they were all excited except they didn't like the flavors in the challenge and whined and cried until I promised to make the yule log as a pumpkin roll, something my sister used to do every year until she lost her favorite recipe, and they want the pumpkin to be topped with maple instead of cappuccino buttercream. Nothing like the folks who are going to be eating it making their desires known, eh? :-) But in the meantime (I'll be baking today) check out all the lovely yule logs already having been constructed by Daring Bakers all over the world: Daring Bakers Blogroll
And now for those recipes for today...
Cranberry Nut Bread
From The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated
Personal note: This bread IS SO GOOD I bought three extra bags of cranberries to freeze so I could make it at other times of the year!
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarse (I left these out since there are already plenty of nuts in my family)
1 Tbsp grated orange zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 1 large orange (I zested the whole thing and it was GREAT!)
2/3 cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup sour cream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries (about 6 ounces) chopped coarse
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat to 375 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5 loaf pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
2. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
3. Sitr together the orange zest, orange juice, buttermilk or sour cream, butter, and egg in a small bowl. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredie3nts with a rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in the cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
4. Bake 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until the loaf is golden brown and ta toothpick inserted int he center ocmes out clean, about 435 minutes longer. Cool in the pan 10 minuutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool at least 21 hour before cutting. Can be stored out on the cabinet for up to 3 days.
Cream Cheese Cookie Press Cookies
Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
1 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp Almond paste
4 oz. Cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, almond paste, cream cheese, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy. Mix in extracts.
2. Mix in flour until just mixed.
3. Scoop into cookie press with press wheel of choice and press onto ungreased cookie sheets using 1 full turn per cookie.
4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden at the edges and ridges.
Dough can be colored using paste food coloring if desired.