Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Though the menu varies from year to year, some favorites are always on hand to help celebrate Christmas. It just wouldn't be Christmas without an antipasto, a pasta of some kind, a ham or roast, and a variety of sweets. Whatever is on your table this year, I hope you're enjoying it in the company of family and friends.
Buon Natale,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Cake

Cinnamon Bun Cake

This easy-to-make cake doesn't just taste like cinnamon buns, it tastes better. It should be reserved for very special people in your life because it is love on a plate.

If you aren't already familiar with the blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook, don't let another day pass without visiting it. I can honestly say that every single recipe I've tried from MGCC has been delicious (and I confess to being partial to their baked goods). Betty R scored a home run with this one. The only negative is you may end up eating the whole thing!


  • Cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Topping:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • Glaze:
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  1. For the cake:
  2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla, and milk.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into a 9 x 13" greased pan.
  5. Topping:
  6. Stir together topping ingredients until creamy
  7. Drop evenly over batter by tablespoons and swirl through the batter with a knife.
  8. Bake at 350ยบ for 45 minutes.
  9. Glaze:
  10. Whisk glaze ingredients till smooth.
  11. Drizzle over warm cake.
  12. Best served warm..although it tastes great even after it has cooled!
I wish there were an audio component to blogging because I would simply let you listen to the sounds that spring to your lips while eating a slice of this warm, gooey, delicious cake. This is going to be Christmas Day breakfast (any leftovers may make it to the dessert table later, but I'm not making any promises).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cookies

There was a time when Christmas baking began the day after Thanksgiving. It would take the 4 weeks between that holiday and Christmas for the stollen to mellow and for me to bake all my favorites (and there are many). Cookies were wrapped and frozen until just before Christmas when I would make up trays and platters to give away as gifts. Of course, it was always necessary to sample the wares and that is one of the reasons I no longer do that kind of baking.

Needing to make up about 15 small bags of cookies to give away to local seniors served by a volunteer group I work with, I turned to a simple recipe that goes together quickly and produces a stiff dough that rolls out easily and bakes up in 12 minutes. The recipe yielded 12 dozen cookies. These are butter cookies, not too sweet, and, for some reason, they've been labeled Italian Christmas cookies. My mother always made them in twists, but I opted to use small to medium-sized cookie cutters.

12 cups flour
12 large eggs
1 lb unsalted butter
4 cups sugar
3 Tbs baking powder
2 Tbs vanilla
2 Tbs almond extract

2 cups confectioners' sugar
dash extract (almond or vanilla or anise or peppermint)

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, baking powder, extracts, and 3 cups of the flour. Add remaining flour until a stiff dough forms. At this point, you can divide the dough and color it, if you wish. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Work with 1/4 of the dough at a time. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out desired shapes.If dough gets warm, place it back in the refrigerator until it chills. You must keep your surface well-floured. Place cookies on silicone mats and bake 10-12 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Cool completely, then glaze and decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, etc.

To make glaze:  add dash of extract then small amount of milk; add just enough milk to make the glaze like a thick Alfredo sauce.
A simple, not-too-sweet butter cookie, these cookies are perfect for baking with children or for when you need a large quantity of cookies in a short amount of time. The dough puffs up nicely when they bake and they keep well in an airtight tin.