Archives for December 2008

Merry Christmas One and All

Christmas Morning Muffins


On Christmas morning, I like to start off the day with some fruit and something fresh from the oven such as madeleine’s, panettone or stolen. Sure, later on there will be bacon, sausages and the works, but I’m talking about early in the morning, with my coffee and presents, I like warm baking.


This holiday I believe I will be turning out Nigella’s Christmas Morning Muffins for our little family. Perfumed with the zest from the clementines and sweetened with the juice, these muffins are rightly named. Red cranberries give them some holiday color and as they are full of spices, they give the kitchen a wonderful smell when they are baking.


I’m loving my new cookbook, Nigella Christmas, which was an early present from Danny. (Here Jasmine reviews the cookbook) I’m doing her Stuffed Loin of Pork with Rubied Gravy for Christmas Eve dinner: pork loin stuffed with bacon and cranberries and wrapped in bacon. How amazing is that?!
This is my first Nigella cookbook, and hmm, she really loves her bacon. We’d get along great.

Here’s the recipe. I’ve cut back on the amount of dried cranberries and am temped to throw some dark chocolate chunks in next time. It IS Christmas, after all.

Christmas Morning Muffins
Adapted from Nigella Christmas

Makes 12 large
250g flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
100g sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of fresh nutmeg
2 clementines
approx 125ml milk
75 ml vegetable oil (or melted butter)
1 egg
100g dried cranberries
3 teaspoons demerara sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a muffin with papers and set aside.
Measure the flour baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and spices into a large bowl; grate the zest of the clementines over and combine. If you are doing this in advance, leave the zesting till Christmas morning.
Squeeze the juice of the clementines into a measuring jug and pour in the milk until it comes to the 200ml mark.
Add the oil or butter and egg, and lightly beat until just combined.
Pour this liquid mixture into the bowl of dried ingredients and stir gently until well combined.
Fold in the cranberries, then spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Sprinkle with demerara if desired.
Bake for 20 minutes or so until tops are firm to the touch.

Wedding Bells


Congratulations to Terrie (Mom/Grandma T) and Walter on your marriage!

We love you and wish you every happiness together as you turn the page on this new chapter in your lives.

All our love,
Danny, Aimée, Noah & Mateo

DIY: Panettone


I probably should be doing something else right now like packing a healthy snack for tomorrow’s little ring bearer, or ironing his baby brother’s wedding pants. The clock is ticking toward midnight and I’m going to have bags under my eyes and ugly fingernails at tomorrow’s family wedding, because instead of being responsible, I am bringing you this panettone.


I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe; it was so much fun to make, every step of the way! Translated from Italian and meaning ‘big bread’, this panettone was a thrill to make at home. Once I had found the right baking mould (thanks to Ares Cuisine $.99 each), I was set. While there’s nothing particularly exotic about the ingredients, the process of bringing them together–the lemon zest, the rum-soaked raisins, and all those eggs–was an intoxicating rush for a home baker like me. (and it wasn’t because I was sampling the rum, either)


Turns out it was a bit of a photographers dream too…It posed so prettily, even when sliced open to reveal it’s creamy interior. This wedge disappeared pretty fast with my cup of tea. Luckily the recipe makes a big batch, so there’s some in the freezer for Christmas morning.


Panettone

Adapted from Canadian Living
Servings: 2 large loaves, 24 slices each

1/4 cup (50 ml) brandy or rum
3/4 cup (175 mL) golden raisins
1/2 cup (125 mL) candied mixed peel

1/2 cup (125 mL) candied citron

8-3/4 cups (2.175 L) all-purpose flour (approx)

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (175 mL) warm milk

2 pkg active dry yeast (or 2 tbsp/25 mL)

6 eggs 6 egg yolks
1 tbsp (15 mL) each grated orange and lemon rind

1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) unsalted butter, softened

Preparation:
In a glass measuring cup, microwave rum at high for about 20 seconds. Add raisins and let stand until plump, about one hour. Drain and reserve raisins.
In small bowl, combine raisins, candied peel and citron. Add 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the flour; toss to coat. Set aside.
In separate bowl, dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) of the sugar in warm milk. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.
Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, orange and lemon rinds and vanilla until combined; stir into milk mixture.
In large bowl, stir together 4 cups (1 L) of the flour, remaining sugar and salt. With wooden spoon, stir in egg mixture all at once. Add butter all at once; stir until blended. Gradually stir in remaining flour to make soft somewhat lumpy dough.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; knead for about 8 minutes or until soft, smooth and elastic, adding up to 1/3 cup (75 mL) more flour if needed. Lightly dust with flour; cover with tea towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
Flatten dough into 15-inch (38 cm) circle; top with raisin mixture. Fold dough over mixture; pinch to seal. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes or until raisin mixture is evenly distributed. Place in large greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Grease two 2 lb (1 kg) coffee cans or panettone moulds. If using cans, line bottoms and sides with parchment paper to extend 1 inch (2.5 cm) above top; wrap outsides and bottoms with double thickness of foil. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half; roll each into ball. Place, seam side down, in can. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.

With serrated knife, cut X on top of each loaf. Bake on baking sheet on lowest rack of 350ºF (180ºC) oven for about 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean, covering tops lightly with foil if browning too quickly.
Let cool in cans on rack for 1 hour. Remove from cans by gently pulling paper; let cool completely on rack.

Tip: Baking panettone in a variety of can sizes is not traditional but does allow you to share some of this splendid treat with those at the top of your gift list. For small panettone, use 10 to 28 oz (284 to 796 mL) cans. Make ball of dough small enough to fill can just under halfway. Let rise as in recipe; bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Cookies and More Cookies


I feel like I risk sounding redundant if I continue to write about how busy things are around here, but such is the case! We’re on the home stretch toward the holiday, but I feel like it’s been Christmas for weeks already. A few things that have been occupying my time over and above the usual holiday craze are…
–My small bake sale fundraiser that I organize every year with a friend raised over $500 that we will put toward providing food for needy families in our area.
–Noah made his theatrical debut as a shepherd boy in our church’s children’s Christmas musical. After weeks of practice, he sang and did the actions, but also behave rather mischievously on stage, much to mama’s chagrin and the audience’s delight.
–Christmas parties are well under way and I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with some old friends, not to mention dressing up and going out. (People do this all year long, apparently?)
–And then, sandwiched between two snowfalls, my annual cookie swap quietly came and went.


How nice to be well-stocked with an amazing assortment of baking! All the cookies were stellar and I was even introduced to a few new ones. Ginger-Lime Buttons, anyone? Yum!
It would have been hard to top last years’ highly organized exchange that made the local paper, but this year was just as memorable. While I waited for the girls to arrive, I brewed my usual batch of mulled cider and set out platters to receive the cookies; I was reminded of what an easy party this was to host! I was so relaxed, as were the guests, and the afternoon slipped away rapidly as we ate cookies and chatted.
Many thanks to the girls who came out! We’ll see you next year!

I’m hoping these photos will distract you from the fact that I have no cookie recipe for you. I know, I know, but by now, I’m sure you’ve either got your baking done or at least have your recipes picked out–you don’t need mine, right?

Just a week to go until Christmas! There are some great things coming to this blog in the next few days so stay tuned.