I often take a look back at the holiday baking I did from Thanksgiving through Epiphany; this year, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the holiday meals and treats we’ve enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving dinner:
We had our pick out dinner on Christmas Day this time:
And our fancy Christmas dinner on the Sunday after Christmas:
Of course we had our traditional New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar:
And a special New Year’s Day dinner to start the new year right:
And finally, our Ryan’s Birthday/Epiphany feast:
On to the baking. There were pies for Thanksgiving:
And several cakes throughout the season, for St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Jesus’ Birthday, the fancy Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Day:
We baked so many Christmas cookies!
And an obligatory “other” section, for things like lussekattes, coffee cake, and even some special holiday beverages:
I put in a little extra effort this year, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere or do most of our normal Christmas activities. In the end, I think we’ll have a lot of delicious memories from this holiday season!
We never did get around to making and decorating cut-out cookies this year (I think we’ll make that a Valentine’s Day activity!), but I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all of the holiday baking we did do, from Thanksgiving Eve through Epiphany.
16 Dozen Cookies (four different kinds):
11 Pies (a total of eight varieties):
Bûche de Noël:
Apple-Cranberry Bread Pudding:
Lussekattes for Santa Lucia Day:
Even without the cut-out cookies, this may have been the busiest year of baking yet…it was delicious fun!
Ladybug and I have been planning to go to dinner at Texas de Brazil in the St. Louis Galleria for almost a year…Saturday was finally the day!
As soon as we walked in, we were impressed…there were color-changing lights behind the bar, which looked really cool through the various bottles!
The table was super fancy, and Ladybug was shocked by the napkin service, which is something she had never encountered. Not only did they place our napkins in our laps when we sat down, they refolded them every time we got up from the table!
If you’ve never been to Texas de Brazil, here’s how it works. After you’re seated, you can visit the salad bar. There were so many delicious options! (But watch out for that plant…it attacked me several times!)
In addition to the cold offerings, there are also some heated options, including their famous lobster bisque, Brazilian black beans, rice, and moqueca (fish stew):
At your table, you’re given a “coin.” One side indicates that you would like the waiters to stop by with whatever carved meat they’re carrying, and the other that you are content with what you have (at least for the time being!):
There are so many meat options, from all of the main meat groups…beef, chicken, pork, and lamb (plus the fish family at the salad bar…I tried all five kinds of meats!). Some are wrapped in bacon, some are seasoned with parmesan cheese, and all are delicious. In general, the meats are prepared medium-rare, but you can request more or less done options. And watching the waiters carve the meat table side is quite a treat!
In addition to the salad bar offerings (both cold and hot), a few side dishes are brought to your table, including garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas, and Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo), which I’ve actually made before!
We enjoyed everything we tried, from the drinks (Ladybug had a Brazilian soda, and I had their signature drink, the Caipirinha), to the salad bar (the pineapple carpaccio, couscous salad, and giant capers were some of our favorites!), to the meat (I was so happy to see so many rare options, including filet mignon and plain old steak):
And then the desserts. There was a tray with some of their offerings, including Brazilian cheesecake, carrot cake, and key lime pie), but they also have other choices including Brazilian flan, Crème Brûlée, and Brazilian Papaya Cream.
Ladybug and I both chose the chocolate mousse cake, and we were definitely not disappointed…it was AMAZING!
This was a very fun and special evening. I wish it was a place we could all visit someday, but it’s not practical for a large family. I do hope that I’ll get the chance to go back with somebody someday, though, because I had a great time, and really enjoyed my meal!
Today is Ladybug’s seventh birthday. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for almost a year. Here’s why:
Last year, not long after Ladybug turned six, American Girl announced that they were retiring the one doll Ladybug had always wanted…Molly. She thought this meant that she was never going to be able to have her. What she didn’t know, was that I went out and bought Molly the day they announced the retirement, and put her away for this birthday. Ladybug was confused when she opened the box, and then ecstatic. I’m so happy we could do this for her!
For the first time, she requested a non-decorated cake for her birthday. She decided she wanted me to make the Schlafly sticky toffee pudding cake. I was happy to comply!
For the Closing Ceremonies of this year’s Russian Olympics, I tried a new twist on my standard booze soaked cake…a White Russian cake. I used a premixed White Russian cocktail from Kahlua, but you could also substitute vodka and Kahlua in the proper proportions. I think this was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made!
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
1 cup Coffe-Mate Italian Sweet Créme non-dairy coffee creamer
1 cup White Russian mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 cup Coffe-Mate Italian Sweet Créme non-dairy coffee creamer
1/4 cup White Russian mix
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour three 8- inch pans.
Mix together the cake mix, 1 cup creamer, 1 cup White Russian mix, eggs and oil until blended. Distribute cake batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, making certain the cake layers do not overbake. Allow to cool completely before filling.
To make the White Russian whipped cream filling: Combine pudding mix, 1/4 cup White Russian mix and 1 cup creamer. Set aside for 5 minutes until thickened. Fold the whipped cream into the White Russian mixture. Use to fill and frost top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I wanted to try something new for our Oktoberfest celebration this year…usually I just make apple strudel. So, I decided to try an authentic Black Forest cherry torte. By authentic, I mean that it had to be made with kirschwasser, in the traditional German way. It was a bit of a challenge finding kirschwasser, but I did finally track it down. I also had to splice together several recipes in my quest for authenticity, but I was very happy with the result, and my family requested that the recipe go in my “permanent file,” so I guess it was a success!
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 15 oz. cans pitted sour cherries
3/4 cup kirschwasser (or a little less, if you want a more subtle flavor)
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
While cake layers are baking, drain cherries. Combine cherries, kirschwasser, 1 1/4 cups sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
After cake layers and cherries have cooled, combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1 1/2 cups whipped cream for decorating cake; set aside.
With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside.
To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.
I tried this recipe on a whim last week for our tea party, and I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious, not too heavy, and was enjoyed by everyone, which makes it the perfect addition to our tea party rotation. I’m sure you could turn this into a lemon poppyseed cake if you so desired…I could also see adding an extra tablespoon or so of poppy seeds to the batter, if you wanted it to be heavier on the poppy seeds!
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
Orange glaze (recipe below)
In a small bowl, soak poppyseeds in milk for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, gradually stir in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange zest, vanilla extract, and poppyseed mixture. Stir in flour mixture and orange juice alternately in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan and invert onto a cake plate. Spoon orange glaze over warm cake.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Stir in orange juice until smooth. Spoon over warm cake.