Monday, December 10, 2012

Restorative Baking

Ah, real life.  Let's face it, it tends to encroach one's inner joyfulness from time to time.  Even during the Christmas season.  Especially during the Christmas season.  When you feel all of that pressure to be jolly.  So what's a girl to do?  But find a way to get it back.  I recently had a little heart to heart with a designer friend of mine, about how sometimes you just have do something.  (As in create something.)  Anything.  It's true.  There are few things that make me feel better than the creative process. Having an idea, putting it into action.  Seeing the fruits of your labor. So, I have been very productive.  I decorated a stocking, planted a terrarium (separate post on those two items to come), and then decided to do a little baking.  Baking can be simple and easy as well as restorative. 

I made a couple of Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Snacking Cakes, not sure what I'm going to do with them yet.  (Eat them, I guess.)  But when I saw the recipe on Say Yes to Hoboken, I couldn't get the beautiful pictures of it out of my head. I just loved the stark contrast of the red cranberries against the white cake.  Very Christmasy. As the original blogger states, it would make a lovely neighbor's gift this holiday season.  (If you want the cake to be sweet, it is a cake after all, I suggest bumping up the sugar content to 1 cup.  I also would go ahead and spring for the raw sugar for the topping.  I didn't and think that it would cut the bitterness of the cranberries quite a bit.  You could also easily substitute lemons for the oranges.)  Delicious with your afternoon cup of tea.

Cookie baking.  Does any other culinary experience feel more like Christmas than baking cookies?  I was not feeling terribly patient, not patient enough for the rolling out the dough, cutting out the cookies, decorating with piped frosting variety.  So I took a different route.  I followed this guide for the Slice and Bake Cookie Palette from Smitten Kitchen.  The dough recipe is simple and you can add in a few optional ingredients to add a little something, or not, you can just follow the original recipe.  I kept it pretty simple and just added orange zest. Especially since I was intending on decorating.  I also liked that I could make this dough ahead of time. I ended up making the dough on Saturday, baking on Sunday and decorating on Monday for a party Tuesday.  It definitely makes things less overwhelming to be able to break things up over a few days.
These look like snowflakes, right?  Not quitting my day job.  Still felt good to make something. They taste much better than the look.

After all, the Christmas season brings a thrill of hope, right?  Don't forget about the traditions of the season to keep the spirit with us.  The joy is there.  It is.  Even if you have to work at it.  It's worth getting it back.

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