Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Baking: Scourge or Savior?

Every year, I make bread for the family. I make three different recipes - pumpkin, cranberry (with or without nuts), and banana (with or without nuts), and everyone gets to pick what they want. It's a LOT of work, and I seriously contemplated NOT making the bread this year. Seriously contemplated it. It takes a whole day to make 40+ mini-loaves of bread, a whole day that I could spend playing with the kids two or three days before Christmas. It's hard work.

On the other hand, everyone in the family loves the bread. I once made the "mistake" of making molded chocolates instead, and everyone asked for the bread back. That was heartwarming. And... and this is seriously horrid but true... it also means I don't have to worry about findings presents for everyone in years we don't draw names. I'm not good at coming up with gifts to begin with, but finding gifts for everyone is a herculean effort. I make the bread even in years when we do draw names, but it's more crucial when we don't.

A few tips, though: When grating the peel for oranges, don't grate your thumb as well. And when chopping cranberries, don't forget the cut you already had on another finger. Both of those kinda sting a bit!

This year, I have also discovered the world's best recipe for cinnamon rolls. It came out of a cookbook from... 1923. That's right, 1923. From before my grandmother was born. I found the cookbook at a flea market, and to complete the wonderfulness of this find, it came from the small town where my grandmother and mother both went to college! It's a fantastic little cookbook, complete with terms like "mango" for bell peppers. Did I mention it has the world's best recipe for cinnamon rolls? They're perfect - squishy soft in the middle and just hard enough on the outside to be right. Tasty. Wonderful. Just perfect.

And between the knowledge that I'm giving the family something they really want for Christmas and the ability to finally make perfect cinnamon rolls, Christmas baking is, in the end, actually worth it.

1 comment:

Elizabeth - said...

I have just picked up baking recently and cinnamon roll recipes are my favorite to try! How quickly I've found that being decent at baking makes you very popular. I totally agree that it's worth it.