This Christmas may have been one of the best. Despite college apps, despite the complete and utter lack of snow, I took time to relax, and I hope all of you did too! I spent time with the people I care about, and I got a lot of lovely gifts. And perhaps the biggest gift of all is a shot at a whole new year, with new beginnings and a fantastic start.
As for baking…there was a lot of it!
There were scones…
Pre-Christmas, I baked these fantastic scones from Joy the Baker. They are not for the faint of heart, or in other words, those who don’t like a strong ginger flavor.
I’d never used candied ginger before, and had to google where to find it in the supermarket, and at first I thought I hated it. But combined with the sweetness of the raw sugar, the buttery pastry and the tart cranberries, the ginger fit in perfectly. I can’t recommend these gems highly enough.
Perhaps the best recommendation is that these scones barely lasted long enough for me to take a picture of one of them! (and this one was gobbed up shortly after)
Fresh Cranberry Cream Scones with candied ginger
makes 6 scones
recipe adapted from joyofcooking.com
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar (you can also use brown sugar or granulated if you have that on hand)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 heaping cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
cream and sugar for topping
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees R. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cold butter and quickly work the butter into the flour mixture. Break up the butter until well incorporated into the flour. Some butter bits will be the size of peas, others will be as small as oat flakes. Toss in the cranberries and ginger and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla extract, and heavy cream. Add the cream mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir quickly to ensure that all of the flour mixture is moistened by the cream mixture. Dump the shaggy dough mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and work together, kneading lightly, into a 1 1/2-inch thick disk.
Cut the disk into 6 wedges.
Place 2-inches apart on baking sheet and brush with cream and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Scones are best served the day they are made, but these scones will last well wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days.
And there was cake.
Then, of course, there was this fantastic coffee cake. The most fantastic coffee cake in all the world, cut out of Cooking Light magazine who-knows-how-many-years ago. Because my mom’s trying to eat healthier lately, she requested that I substitute yogurt for the sour cream, and I’m very happy to report that it worked beautifully, and even made it more moist and delectable.
What is in this cake, you ask? It’s basically a fluffy pound cake with a swirl of cinnamon sugar, pecans, and butter through the middle. It is buttery, it is rich, and it is addictive.
See what I mean?
Christmas Coffee Cake
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups sour cream OR plain fat-free yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour, or gluten-free flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free mix
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Coat a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with breadcrumbs
Place granulated sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl, with standing mixer beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg and egg white, 1 at a time, and beat to incorporate. Beat in sour cream/yogurt and vanilla.
Measure out and level cake flour, combine with ingredients through 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add cake flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
For the filling: combine all-purpose flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt, cut in 1 tablespoon butter with pasty cutter or knives, until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with pecan mixture (this layer will be pretty thick). Pour remaining half of batter over pecan mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then invert onto a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 14 servings.