Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Baking-the Dreams and the Reality

Every year I dig out my Christmas baking file along with Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies magazine which is filed near the baking file.  The recipes look soooo good. I have many tried and true that I HAVE to make for family and friends. What about the ones that I haven't tried yet?  The recipes and beauty pictures are waiting for me each year in my folder. Every year I make a list of what I will make, persimmon breads, sugar cookies cut out and frosted, chocolate truffle cookies filled with ganache, my special oatmeal cookies with cranberries instead of raisins, Millionaire's short bread, spiced nuts, peppermint bark, brittles and on and on. I keep my lists and laugh at the ones crossed off as " not enough time". I make half recipes and put together little boxes to send back East to my three Aunts and my brother Bobby and his kids. Today I have the folder out and am dreaming once again. My notepad is right here beside me and the list is started. I will not include peppermint bark as it is in every catalog on earth, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Trader Joe's and who knows where else. Rocky Road Bark is on the list instead and persimmon breads for sure as I have an abundance of them this year. I let them get mushy ripe then froze them in ziplock bags. One bag is defrosting as I type this.

The recipe I have used for so many years that I can't remember when I first baked them is from "Beard on Bread" by James Beard. I love that book and have practically baked my way through it since it was published in the 1970's.  It is worth a try and here is the recipe with my little tweaks.

Persimmon Bread
3 1/2 c. sifted all purpose flour( unbleached is fine too)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. gr. coriander
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. melted unsalted butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c. cognac (my favorite ingredient)
2 c. persimmon puree , the pulp of very ripe persimmons, no need to peel.
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts, hazelnuts are my choice but walnuts are delish too.
2 c. dried currants

Preheat oven to 350* Butter and flour molds.  This fills 4, 3-4 c. molds. 
Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer or other bowl.  Make a well in the center and add melted butter, eggs, Cognac, persimmon puree, nuts and raisins. Mix the dough until it is smooth.
Fill the molds 3/4 full and bake 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the molds before removing the breads. 
These can be made in advance, wrap in plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate 1-2 weeks or freeze.

My fun thing to do with part of the batter is to fill my mini tart pans and bake them off. They can then be wrapped as part of my cookie boxes.

The Minis

Persimmon breads ready for the oven

45 minutes later.....

On to the next project after we get the tree up. Oatmeal cookies! I hope Steve can eat them. They are his favorite but with his dry mouth it may be a challenge. Maybe I'll pour him a cup of eggnog to dip them in.

By the way I am following a couple of really good blogs:  Tigress in a Jam and Tigress in a Pickle,
What Julia Ate, Hitchhiking to Heaven and Orangette.

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