Thursday, 24 December 2015

24. Christmas Baking | Blogmas

One of my favourite things to do at Christmas time is baking! We divide the load amongst the whole family so that no one is stuck doing everything- pies, breads, cookies, etc. This year my baking duties involved an Italian loaf of bread for homemade stuffing, sugar cookies, and Nanaimo bars. 
I started with the bread on the 23rd as for stuffing you want the bread to be quite stale. The first step to this simple loaf is to let 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast to bloom in 2 cups of lukewarm water. I did this directly in my mixers bowl. Make sure you have the dough hook attachment on your mixer. 

You'll then want to gradually sift in 5 3/4 cups of flour and add 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt and beat on a medium speed for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, firm and elasticy. 

Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it to rise until it is about doubled in size. The dough will need to be covered with plastic wrap for this and it will take about 90 minutes. Once the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch it down. Roll the dough up tightly and seal the seams well. You'll then want to transfer your dough to whatever baking dish you're using- I used a Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes. Brush the dough with 1 beaten egg white and pop in your oven, preheated to 425F and bake for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, spray the loaf with water from a spray bottle. Bake another 3 minutes, spray again, bake 3 minutes, spray again. After 3 rounds of baking and spraying, bake the loaf for about 45 minutes. Spraying the loaf with water will ensure a crisp, golden brown crust. 
This bread is so delicious and I know it's going to make such a lovely stuffing! It's a such a shame to watch it go stale since it really is SO good, but the stuffing will be so worth it!
My sugar cookies are somewhat of a legend in my family- crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. To make these delicious cookies, I start be creaming together 1 1/4 cups butter and 2 cups white sugar until they are light and fluffy. You'll then want to beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, sift together 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour and 1 tsp baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is all incorporated. Don't over mix! You'll then want to roll the cookie dough into little 1/4in balls and place on a cookie sheet 2in apart to bake. You'll want to flatten the cookies slightly but not completely. They only need to be in the oven 8 minutes- don't over bake! They should be slightly golden on the bottoms. Let the cookies cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or else your cookies will break apart (they're super soft guys!)
Some of the cookies I left as is for baking, but others I sprinkled with cinnamon and more sugar. They turned out so freakin' good- kind of like a snickerdoodle. 
My recipe for Nanaimo bars is not my own, so unfortunately I can't share that with you- it's a family secret. Nanaimo bars are a three layered dessert with a chocolate, graham cracker, coconut base, a custard middle, and a chocolate topping. They're a huge hit among my family! There are tonnes of simple and delicious recipes online for Nanaimo bars and you can even get kits at the grocery store for quite low prices!

I hope you enjoyed a little look into my Christmas baking! My main Christmas is happening tonight (I'm so excited!) with a second Christmas happening tomorrow. I have LOVED doing blogmas- I really didn't think I could do it! Now that it's over I'll return to my regular Tuesday, Friday, Sunday post schedule so make sure to check in on Friday for my Christmas recap! What was your favourite blogmas post? Also if you're doing Christmas baking please do leave some recipe ideas as I've still got new years to bake for! haha. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas. 

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn