Friday, November 16, 2012


It is upon us! The holiday season is here and I am ready for it! Almost. For Christmas I will be baking cookies, but for Thanksgiving I will be baking bread.
Yes, I bake. You should know that by now, since my last mention of the banana nut bread. It is not a mix, bought from a store shelf, although many of those are really tasty. I mix it from scratch for holidays and for other times when I just feel like it.
My wife suggested a bread machine just the other day and I think it would be a nice idea, on those days I do not feel like kneading bread by hand. Kneading is relaxing in a way, the feel of the stiff dough between your hands, the elasticity growing as you work it and adding the flour, the way the yeast adds to the aroma even before you bake it.
Sourdough is even better, the yeast reaching the pinnacle of glory. The way the bread crusts over in the oven is amazing and so much fun to rip into and devour.
This time my wife asked for the egg braid I have made several times in the past for the holidays. The bread is three kinds, wheat, rye and pumpernickel, rolled into three separate strands and twisted together to form a pleasing pattern and a great taste. I am not sure if the timing is right, since I must work the night before. I work third shift and don't get home till seven A.M. She will be using the oven most of the day, cooking the turkey and that may cause a minor issue. We will see.
Visually, the egg braid is pleasing as well, the three colors forming a checkerboard pattern. Sometimes I add minced jalapeño to one of the strands, since my son and I both like the little peppers.
When my son was still small, he hated vegetables. I would bake and he would descend upon the kitchen like Biblical locusts and the bread would disappear. I would mince broccoli and other vegetables and mix them in with the jalapeño. He ate it without question, the peppers covering everything else.
It was sneaky but he got his veggies.
If you like to cook or bake, then you can understand my feelings toward this and the special feelings for those treats reserved for the Holidays.
I am including here one of my grandmothers recipes here, I think. it's one we had growing up, one of my favorites that make me think of home and the farm.
After all, writing is so much easier when you have a nice treat beside you, isn't it?

Mamaw's Jam Cake 

Three layers baked at 350 until toothpick comes clean. We never had a timer. We did always grease and flour the pans. The lard came from the hogs out back in the old days and Crisco later. We use Pam these days.

1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups sugar (granulated)
4 (6) eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (2) tsp cinnamon  (some days my grandmother felt spicier than others and would double the amounts. Suit yourself here)
1 (2) tsp nutmeg
1 (2) tsp allspice
2 tbs cocoa (unsweetened as I recall)
3 (4) cups of all purpose flour (She liked to experiment. I go with 3 1/2)
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (chopped)
(1 cup dried cranberries - My addition, not in the original)
2 cups jam (She made her own jam and used raspberry or boysenberry jam)
1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained

 Combine butter, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, soda, powder, and spices. Mix well.
Then add cocoa. Blend in the flour, jam and pineapple. Stir in nuts, raisins and dried cranberries. Pour into pans already prepared and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


1 stick butter
1 box lt brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in pan. add lt brown sugar and let boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk, stirring constantly and vigorously (NO splashing! It hurts!) until it returns to a boil. Remove from heat and set in cold water, stirring until it begin to thicken. Add vanilla and stir.
Sometimes Mamaw would beat the frosting to give it a smoother consistency or add coconut to it.

Layer it on thick when it cools enough not to run off the cake.

About ten million calories to the slice.

 No, I didn't write about writing. I did write something, though. Besides, it's MY blog.

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