Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Baking is Happy Making

It's that time of year again, and my thoughts are turning to all the smells and tastes of the season...cinnamon and ginger, butter and vanilla, nuts, chocolate, turkey-roasting, cookies-baking...house elves bustling merrily around the kitchen...or if you're short on house elves, yourself in there, up to the elbows in chocolate truffles and gingerbread dough, humming "God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs"* as you whip up a little batch of comfort and joy. Yay Christmas!

Yesterday was chilly, and felt even more so because we just got back from California, so thinking of my poor little ones trudging home across the snowbound schoolyard, their usually toughened Canadian-kid hides shivering cruelly after a week in the sun and surf, I decided to make them something warm and Christmas-y for after school.
This is what I made:

Cranberry Tea Loaf

* 2 cups hot brewed cranberry tea
* 1 cup craisins (dried sweetened cranberries)
* 2 1/2 cups flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp cloves
* 1/2 cup chilled butter (or non dairy butter substitute for a vegan version)

Put craisins into the hot tea and set aside, allowing mixture to cool to room temperature. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter, until thoroughly blended. Add room temperature tea and craisins, mix until just combined. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake @ 350F for 50-60 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean).

(adapted from this Anna Olson recipe)

It is very tasty. You can slather it in butter if you're feeling really decadent, but we like it plain.

I served this up for after school snack with mugs of strong, hot cocoa. The kitchen was warm and smelled of cinnamon and cloves, and we listened to the Vince Guaraldi Trio play Charlie Brown Christmas, and talked about our plans for the holidays...one of those times where you look around and think, it just doesn't get much better than this...


*if you're not getting the Harry Potter references, there's not a lot I can do to help. Just read the darn books! Ignore all of the obnoxious hype and plunge into one of the most charming fantasy series around. You'll be glad you did.

5 comments:

  1. Oh yes. What a lovely post! It is making me want strong, grown-up versions of hot chocolate.

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  2. after reading this, i felt the urge to twirl around while singing 'The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year' and then i remembered i wasn't one of the Andrews Sisters.

    and if i had elves, i'd get them to shovel my walk, THEN make me some snacks. oh, yes, the spirit runs high over here....

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  3. Twirling and singing and grown up hot chocolate...you guys have got the spirit!

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  4. Craig, you have thumprint cookies. What are you complaining about?! That trumps magical elves and shovelled walks any old time!

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  5. ah, but once you rear-end a giant pick-up truck and realize that none of the day to day tribulations would be happening if you just quit that commute months ago.... well, those thumbprint cookies are cold comfort. cold comfort indeed.

    and, quite frankly, i hate shovelling. no, that's a lie. i hate my shovel. it's a wimpy plastic tupperware lid of a shovel, which means it more kind of mushes the snow around, rather than actually removing the snow.

    you know what else i don't like? semis. they drive too fast and always throw rocks on your brand new windshield. and you know what else? medium cheddar. what's the point?

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