Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread

I know without question I cannot bake and cook at the same time. Disaster awaits. Or at the very least, serious unhappiness. There must be either a baking morning and a cooking afternoon or some variation thereof. This doesn’t mean I won’t stir up a pan of cornbread while my beans finish cooking at 5:30 or that I’d refuse to bake cookies if the slow cooker was on. No, no, no–not at all. But it does mean I shouldn’t be chopping and adding ingredients to a soup and think I can also whip up a loaf or two of quick bread in the the short minutes between soup chores. Because if I do, the bread will be missing its cinnamon, for instance, or in this case, its very necessary salt. And I might serve the soup without making sure all of its ingredients were just as tender as they should be. Which I did — and sent it to ill neighbors like that. (I hope the carrots weren’t crunchy. God, Alyce.)

Continue reading

Apple-Pecan Pie

.

When fall finally arrives (not sure it’s here yet), it’s time to bake again — and by November, it’s time to think of baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I am anything in life, I am a pie baker. I’m not a county fair blue ribbon winner, but I’m something better — I’m the person folks like to see walking into their house or the church potluck with a pie basket on her arm. It wasn’t always that way, but pie baking is a progressive art or one that is a lifelong undertaking. I began with pies that didn’t taste badly, but were pale and puny at best and were luckily called out by older, experienced pie bakers in the mid-70’s. (“You could have left that in the oven a while longer.”) Even now, hundreds and hundreds of pies later, there’s the occasional crust that won’t hold together, for example, and gets ceremoniously dumped straight into the garbage can. It doesn’t faze me anymore, but pies continue to be educational as long as you’re willing to bake them. If you don’t bake one for a while and then assume you’ll be fine, that pie may or may not bake into something worth eating with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Continue reading

“Peaknut” Crinkles

Each December for the last several years, I’ve dreamed up a Christmas cookie for the blog. This time, I might have found my very favorite–just in time for your weekend last-minute baking.  “Peaknut” Crinkles are a twist on the always-favorite Chocolate Crinkles so often made at holiday time.

My own crinkle recipe– pictured above–and this is a riff on that– is one I’ve made for years and I have no idea from whence it came.  More than once, I’ve really searched to discover its provenance, but the crinkle recipes I find are not like mine and so I have no idea. Thanks to that cookie baker I’ve never found!! Now, just so you know:  the difference between “my” recipe and the others is this:  mine uses melted chocolate and ALSO chocolate chips; every other one I locate is made with only cocoa.  So.   “My” Chocolate Crinkle Recipe.

Continue reading

Chocolate Bottom Cranberry Muffins

These muffins–and muffins they be– are not an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Not too sweet and with a pebbly-crunchy mouthfeel, they still hold a holiday-ishly decadent pizzaz with the very best bittersweet chocolate baked right into the bottom of the muffin. You can also add it at the top if a frosting effect is more to your liking (see Cook’s Notes), but I do very much like the little secret chocolate that’s perfectly hidden until you take your first bite.  If you’ve been roaring on about trying not to eat all those goodies this month (waa, waa, waa), take heart; read on…

Continue reading

Chocolate-Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

img_3221

For anyone with Scots background, shortbread is the Christmas cookie. In whatever “shape or form”, to quote my Dad, it might come.  It also happens to be my  very favorite cookie of any season and you can find it on the blog in a few incarnations... The endless variations are a large part of its intrinsic attraction for this baker:

Raspberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies and Valrhona Chocolate Shortbreads with Sea Salt:

Continue reading