Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Sweet Tradition Belatedly

April 30, 2019

If I were an Orthodox Christian, this post would be just about on time, but I’m not. And it isn’t. But, as I ask myself regularly, “who’s keeping score?”

With no children at home and Patrick on a chocolate-free kick, it was only the day before Easter that I pulled out the basket, hollow plastic eggs, and the vintage cake mold for our traditional Easter dessert.

What do you think of when I say “lamb cake”? I wouldn’t be surprised if you envision a meat-eater’s version of a crab cake – a patty made of ground meat. But what kind of dessert would that be?!?!

Nearly 60 years ago, when my newlywed parents lived in an old Boston neighborhood, my mother bought a metal cake mold from an Italian bakery. For every Easter since — from their walk-up apartment and our home in central Maine to my brother’s and my Boston-area homes — a lamb cake has been part of our celebrations.

Despite my best efforts at careful driving on the way to Luke and Mary’s, gravity and centrifugal force got the better of the cake. Fortunately, I’d placed a napkin on the car floor to serve as a potential landing pad. #notmyfirstrodeo

As usual at L&M’s, the food was superb and accompanying conversation lively, varied, and humorous (many belly laughs and at least one snort by yours truly).

At one point, the giant condensed Oxford Dictionary was hauled out and consulted, with magnifying glass assistance, by Kevin and Uncle Mike. I can’t remember what word they were looking up. Check the comments because a regular reader may recall.

Despite a few cosmetic flaws, the cake was quite tasty.

And the sunset was glorious.

Oh Happy Day indeed. (Go ahead: click and listen)

Not Your Usual Bread Baking

February 18, 2018

For the past few years, I’ve been one of the bakers of my church’s eucharistic bread, the round, unleavened bread that’s blessed as part of the Mass and shared with the community. About every five or six weeks, it’s my turn to bring 5 “loaves” to the Saturday afternoon Mass. I’m always afraid that, in the midst of the comings and goings of the weekend, I’ll forget to bake, so I add a reminder to the fridge door.

I really love to bake yeast bread but rarely do so. I love proofing the yeast, kneading the dough, watching it rise, shaping the loaves. And the smell? Heavenly!

Unleavened bread? Not so much. It’s not meant to be kneaded more than a couple minutes before being patted into a circle and rolled thin.


The balance of sticky and floury is a delicate one. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to start over after scraping a stuck loaf off the counter. After rolling, each loaf is imprinted with a special press (the name of which escapes me). This is another opportunity for stickiness!


Yesterday, I had some extra dough which is patted into lumpy free-form circles. Perfect with my supper of turkey soup!


In knitting news, progress on Sock #2 is brought to you in part by the Winter Olympics and the NBA Slam Dunk and Three-Pointer competitions.


These Early Birds Gobble

February 8, 2018


I’m usually a very solid sleeper, falling back to sleep pretty easily after I awake during the night. But when I found myself wide awake one morning this week just before 5am, less than an hour before my usual rising time, I decided to get up and get going.

I’m fortunate to live in a safe environment that enables me– with appropriate reflective gear and blinking lights on my jacket and ankles — to be a regular pre-dawn runner/walker. Whatever the weather, I head out before any in my house is up. It’s a habit I cherish; in fact, one the rare occasions that I’m not able to do it, I find myself cranky and out of sorts for much of the day. My favorite poet-artist Brian Andreas captured the sentiment perfectly in this poem, Before Dawn, that hangs by our door:


I was joined watched by some of the local wildlife, wild turkeys roosting in the trees of my suburban neighborhood. They started calling to each other across a few blocks, probably debating whether to “fly” down to the ground or to hit the snooze button and stay on their branches for a bit longer. Although you can’t really see any of the birds, you can hear a few seconds of their chatter.


By the time I got home — with my usual cup of coffee from the nearby coffee shop — I’d decide to put the mostly brown bananas on the counter to good use. Instead of banana bread, I usually make muffins; they bake faster and are a good grab-and-go snack or breakfast. I tossed some frozen wild Maine blueberries into half of the double batch and popped them into the oven.


While they baked, I did a couple of rounds of the border on the Wee Penny baby dress. I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow.


After I’d done a bit of quality assurance testing of the muffins (they passed), I dove into the day. When I plotted out my daily schedule, I add “nap” to the list. As regularly happens with items on my to-do list, I didn’t complete that one. There’s always tomorrow!


Pardon the Interruption

December 6, 2013

We (that’s the royal “we”) interrupt the usual knitting stuff for a brief baking interlude.

I’ve written before about the pre-Christmas traditions in my home — the Advent wreath on the table, lights in the windows, the creche above the fireplace, the Advent calendars (usually two) that hang in the kitchen, and baking St. Nicholas cookies for December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas.

I won’t repeat myself on all those details, but I will provide the recipe and some tips for making this yummy cookies. They have a somewhat adult flavor — sort of spicy and not-too-sweet. Flavors are cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise, and ginger.


Young children tend not to enjoy them, which is just fine as far as I’m concerned because it means there are more for me!

My recipe card, copied from my Mom’s recipe, has a few splatters, as any well-loved recipe should.


Sift together:
3 c flour
4 t baking powder
1 T cinnamon
1 t EACH ground cloves and nutmeg
1/2 t EACH ground ginger, salt, and ground anise seed (I use a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. You could skip the anise and they’d likely be delicious, just not quite the same)

Beat 1 c butter, 1 1/2 c brown sugar together until fluffy.
Stir in 3 T milk, dark rum or brandy.
Add flour & spice mixture, mix well, and form into ball. Don’t worry if the dough looks a bit dry here. When you pick it up and form a ball, it’ll come together nicely.

Grab a big handful of dough and knead it between your hands briefly until it forms a ball (but not so long that the warmth of your hands makes it sticky).

Roll out onto floured counter until approx. 1/4″ thick. I don’t measure but estimate that my rolled dough is a bit less than 1/4″ thick. Don’t worry about making a particular shape with the dough — a quasi-rectangle is just fine since you’ll cut the rough edges.


Cut the rolled dough into strips that are approximately 1/2″ – 1″ wide. Then cut each strip into a length that’s somewhere between 2″ and 5″. You needn’t be precise — it’s not a beauty contest and there are no cookie police. Save the scraps that you’ve cut from the rough edges and use those in the next ball that you roll out.


Place onto lightly greased/non-stick cookie sheet (or use parchment paper).
Brush with lightly beaten egg white. (I’ve been known to skip/forget this step, which results in an ever-so-slightly more dry cookie).

Bake in 375 degree oven for 9-12 minutes. Since the cooking time depends on how thin you’ve rolled the dough, I recommend checking at 9 minutes and then every minute or so after. Take them out when they’re more-than-golden but not yet dark brown.


Cool on a rack and enjoy. I love them dipped into a mug of tea or a glass of cold milk.

If you make them, let me know how they turned out.

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