December 2017 A Note from Marcy
Welcome to the most festive month of baking and the December 2017 Issue of Betterbaking.com. Enjoy an incredible, crowd-pleasing, show-stopping Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Challah plus Free!! Classic Hanukkah Sugar Cut Out Cookies and New Way Famous Potato Latkes with over 28,500 Downloads, Cheese Crowns for Hanukkah and so much more! This is not baking; this is life. All brought to you by Betterbaking.com. Happy Holidays and happy baking.
Dear Bakers and Friends,
Welcome to the December 2017 Issue of Bettebaking.com. I feel like I am brimming to the point where I pretend to contain it just so I pass as a regular citizen. No one talks on the phone anymore (they text emoticons) so you can bet that happy, smiling, irrationally joyful people like me are hardly in fashion. But when I am with my baking friends, I'm in good company. December is oh-so-cozy inside and better yet, there’s no one chiding me to “go outside and play this sunny day”. Instead it’s perfectly legitimate to stay indoors and bake. And bake I do.
This time of year is also inherently nostalgic and the other day I caught myself remembering a moment some thirty years ago. I was a relative newly-wed and as was somewhat a regular thing in my early-twenties, I was between jobs. To make the task of job-hunting worst it was almost the holiday season plus I had a tenacious virus that had me in bed for days. Ten days in, I felt almost surreal. Then I saw a newspaper (!) ad saying there was to be a free Christmas baking lesson at a local department store. I don’t know what it was that made me drag myself out of bed, shower, dressed, bundle up and head across town. I was sick, job-less and feeling beyond weird but magnetically pulled to go to that baking lesson. The guest baker was Janice Murray Gill and she was a Canadian baking legend. Capable as only a Maritimer could be, Ms. Gill put her captive audience of twenty, enscounced at a baking counter between the Waterford and Wedgwood, through her Christmas baking paces.
In short time and short work, a ton of flour morphed into sweet yeasted candy canes, fruitcake, shortbread, sugar cookies and a myriad of holiday morning brunch dishes. Fascinated, I watched as she crushed candy canes with a rolling pin and sprinkled the sweet dust on dough. Cranberries were crushed to a crimson tide that decked out cranberry crumb bars and the shortbread? My goodness, she kneaded it like bread for ages and it came out tough but crumbly, sandy, buttery – amazing. I never saw anyone make shortbread like that. I remember finally warming up, forgetting my cold and blocked ears, and letting my down coat loop on my chair and finally removed my woolly hat. I forgot I was unemployed and nursing the flu (the chill went right out of me). I remember thinking with absolute clarity: THIS is what I want to do. It’s not a hobby. I love. I want to bake as a career. Somehow, some way, I would find a way to make this happen.
And that is what I did. I went home and threw out the job clippings from the (yes) Classified Ad section of the (print) newspaper. Instead, I ordered a portable convection oven and an extra freezer from Sears. I bought fifty pounds of carrots and laid in a stock of chocolate chips and frozen blueberries (for Lawsuit Muffins which had yet to be invented). I made business cards which cost me as much as my month's rent (no Vista Print in those days either!). Happily, I also recovered from that strange cold soon after that baking lesson and when I was totally on the mend, I started to bake like a house afire or a woman on a mission. On non-baking days, I visited restaurants and cafes, toting muffin and cake samples and didn't stop until I had enough customers to keep me busy and earning. The first thing I bought was a Canada Savings Bond and a second-hand piano (which, if you read my column now know was purchased by Arcade Fire when I advertised it on Craigslist). The rest, as they say, is history. I became a professional baker, food writer, cookbook author, baking teacher and host of this baking website.
That Christmas baking lesson wasn’t the first time I knew I loved baking; that started at age six or seven. But that baking lesson on that day was the lightening rod moment of knowing exactly what I was meant to be. It was like finding extra gravity which I sorely needed at the time and has since and evermore been grateful for. Searching for your purpose on the planet? That's common and most human. Knowing what it is? Priceless.
Baking has been one of many soulmates I have and one I fall in love with it again every time I have eight good hours sleep. It’s an overdue debt but let me just say that I am forever grateful to Janice Murray Gill, wherever she may be, for sharing the magic of Christmas baking with this Jewish baker and inspiring me, as she did, did her best to keep baking legacies alive.
Happy Holidays all, be grateful, be generous, and be kind. It will never steer you wrong and your baking will be better for it.
This is not baking; this is life.
Master Baker, Author
Free!! Classic Hanukkah Sugar Cut Out Cookies
What's a holiday without pretty cookies? This is a perfect cookie dough: it's easy, rolls out like a dream, tastes buttery and crisp and is up to a whole lot of decorating.
FREE New Way Famous Potato Latkes Over 28,500 Downloads!
What's Hanukkah without latkes?
Ikea Cinnamon Buns or KanelBullar
If you’ve ever visited an Ikea you’ll notice the food part is a little strange. They serve hotdogs, pizza and chips, ice-cream and a whole lot of cinnamon buns. Why cinnamon buns? I always wondered. Then I found out that Swedes manage almost a cinnamon bun-a-day with a national consumption of three hundred and sixty-one cinnamon buns per year, per person? That’s why Ikea serves them! They’re the national treat. Ikea bows to American tastes by omitting the cardamom, raisins and slathering on white fondant. By contrast authentic Swedish cinnamon buns have cardamom (but you can leave it out), pearl sugar on top (and no fondant). These are also lighter, more feathery buns and are made with less butter, less sugar, no eggs and no vanilla. They are: wonderful.
Cheese Crowns for Hanukkah
Beautiful flakey cheese crowns!
Of course you don't have to wait for Hanukkah to enjoy these flakey, delicious sweet cheese pastries. These are like mini-Danish but they're easy to make and satisfying with coffee or tea. Want to impress? Bake these! You can also add raspberry preserves if you like to the cheese filling.
Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Challah
This stops traffic - seriously it is the nicest, sweet challah you will ever make (except for Apple Challah). It's like brioche!
I brought this fantastic bread to a special tango class taught by world-wide tango legend, Pablo Veron, who graces Montreal with these classes every once in awhile. Attending dancers came from all over North America. The dancing was sublime and this challah was devoured between steps, in hearty shreds with espresso on the side. Total drama - amazing bread!
Sour Cherry Rugulah
What is more Hanukkah-ish (aside from donuts, sweet cheese desserts and latkes) than rugulah ? This dough recipe alone is worth every bite and calorie and the filling is addictive. If you don't have sour cherry preserves, use the little trick in the recipe to help you out.!
Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Challah Soooo addictive that I can't be trusted around these. Every batch I make goes out the door asap!
And a classic for the holidays, Perfect Classic Scottish Shortbread
Each year I work on my shortbread craft, making it better than ever. Walkers? Take heed - I'm on your shortbread tails!.
Blue Ribbon Banana Bread Best Banana Bread
A perfect recipe for gift baking. This recipes makes a huge loaf so you can freeze one or gift it or make half the recipe. It bakes up like a dream, is relatively low-fat but tender, moist and fragrant –the sort of stuff that you find in big, hunky slices on the kitchen counter at midnight or at those coffee pop-up trucks where you can buy amazing banana cake, nicely wrapped in cello paper, ready to tuck into with a cup of hot coffee. Absolutely one of my best recipes.
Marcy Goldman Cookbooks Holiday Gifts!
I also take this time to remind you that my books are all for sale in print (except Holiday Cookies) and ebooks at Amazon, Chapters Indigo and orderable from your favorite independent bookstore. Remember you get 4 months free of BB with any book you purchase (just send me the electronic receipt). In the new year, any new cookbooks of mine will only come with ONE- one-month free of BB Recipe Archive access so if you want to get the 4-month deal, now is a good time to purchase any of these books. All my books are available in print or e-book except for Best Holiday Cookies which is an e-book only.
My cookbooks are available at Amazon, Kindle, Indigo, Barnes and Noble or via your favorite, local, independent bookstore (all they have to do is order it for you). The baking style in each book is quite different and each is jammed packed of baking advice I can't possibly share on the website so if you are considering a holiday gift, any of these books would be a treasure to give or receive.
Seven Great Cookbooks to Choose!