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Home-Baked Hygge

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My half-Norwegian mother is smiling at the swirl of interest in “hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh).  She was a master at home made simple pleasures that are the roots to kinship and comfort.  We could all use a few hygge tools in our kit right now.  I think my mom would endorse these five hygge hints to ease the holiday hectic:

 #5:  Prep a hot beverage mix, then use it. Choose something with warm milk, less caffeine, chocolate and herbs for a little calm. I love hot cocoa mix:  Whirl in your food processor until powdery:  ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 oz. roughly chopped semi-or bittersweet chocolate, ½ cup baking cocoa (Dutched cocoa is a deeper flavor), ¼ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, and a pinch of salt.   Store in an airtight jar and use 3 tablespoons mix per medium mug of heated milk or water.  Thank you @smittenkitchen!

Love your coffee too? Unwind with friends with a decaf version of C&H Sugar’s Toffee Coffee.

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#4: Employ lavender’s magic. After holding your breath all day working the lists, breathe in one of HBA’s Writer’s Guild pro Nancy Baggett’s Lavender Place recipes Culinary lavender’s comforts range from sweet honey-spice snickerdoodles, to savory herbed popcorn for starters.

#3: Break down prep time…try making dough and freezing ready-to-bake. Just thinking, you might have time to get the dough made…but no time to bake! HBA member test kitchens lead the way on how to freeze cookie, yeast and scone dough to pop in the oven at any time.  Try this Freeze and Bake Scones example

 #2:  Drop, don’t roll.  For some of us, rolling out dough of ANY kind is challenging. Go with a drop or “scoopable” version —there are many sweet and savory options!  Butternut Softies are a great holiday fruit and nut drop cookie and Drop Biscuits are naturally comfort food.

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 #1:  Often, eat simply.  Try a whole grain batter yeast bread served with a favorite veggie, lentil or bean soup and soak in the comfort of home.

Even these Top Five cannot guarantee coziness, simple pleasures and kinship when you focus on them alone. Include someone in one of these gifts, and hygge will come quickly to your heart and hearth!

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Easy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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Rolled sugar cookies ready for decorating. With a new method for mixing there’s no need to soften the butter or chill the dough before cutting out cookies!

This great recipe was provided by Land O’Lakes. Go to http://www.Landolakes.com for more holiday recipes.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup cold butter cut into chunks

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

How to make

  1. STEP 1

    Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

  2. STEP 2

    Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl; set aside.

  3. STEP 3

    Place sugar and cold butter into bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract; beat until well mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just combined.

  4. STEP 4

    While removing dough from bowl, knead to incorporate crumbs and form a smooth dough. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.

  5. STEP 5

    Cut into shapes with 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around edges. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Tip #1

If planning to cut with intricate cutters, chill dough 30 minutes before rolling and cutting. This ensures your cookies will hold their detailed shape.

 

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Super Fudgy Raspberry-Lavender Brownies

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Brownies are one of America’s best baking inventions. They first turned up, without any fanfare, in the 1906 edition of Fannie Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.  No, Mrs. Farmer’s brownies did not contain lavender.  But they were rich, dark, and full of chocolate flavor, so she got us off to a very good start!

These are in Mrs. Farmer’s classic brownie style (no chocolate chips, no cheesecake swirls, no icing), but with a surprising and enticing taste twist provided by raspberry jam and lavender. They are fruity and nearly as rich and deeply chocolaty as fudge—also a very good thing!

  • Tip: The baking time depends greatly on the pan used, so check frequently for signs of doneness. In a heavy, dull metal pan that absorbs and holds heat readily, the brownies may be done in only about 20 minutes. But a glass or shiny metal pan they may take up to 8 minutes longer. Use the toothpick test to tell.

1/4 cup raspberry jam or preserves combined with 3 tablespoons water

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds

1 2/3 cups all-purpose white flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups granulated sugar

11 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, broken up or coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon raspberry extract or homemade lavender extract, optional

4 large eggs, at room temperature

  1. Heat the jam-water mixture and butter almost to boiling in a small saucepan, then set aside. Stir in the lavender buds and let stand while readying the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with heavy aluminum foil; let it overhang the narrow ends. Grease or coat the foil with nonstick spray or cooking oil.
  3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cocoa powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Strain the butter mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large saucepan; press down to force through as much of the mixture as possible.
  5. Stir the sugar into the saucepan. Heat, stirring, just until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling; don’t worry if it looks curdled or oily.
  6. Remove it from the heat.
  7. Add the chocolate, stirring until completely melted.
  8. Set aside until cooled to just slightly warm (if the mixture is hot, the eggs may curdle when added).
  9. Stir the vanilla and raspberry or lavender extract (if using) into the pan.
  10. Vigorously stir in the eggs one at a time.
  11. Stir in the dry ingredients just until the batter is evenly blended.
  12. Turn out the batter into the baking pan, spreading to the edges.
  13. Bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes, then begin frequently testing for doneness: When the center top is barely firm when tapped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean except for the bottom 1/8-inch (which will look wet), the brownies are done.
  14. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.
  15. Let stand until cooled to warm, about 20 minutes, then, for easiest cutting, refrigerate until chilled.
  16. Using the overhanging foil as handles, carefully transfer the brownie slab to a cutting board.
  17. If desired, trim away the uneven edges using a large, sharp knife. Cutting through the foil, cut the slab in half crosswise. Carefully peel off and discard the foil from the bottoms.
  18. Cut each brownie slab into 2 1/8 by 2 1/4-inch bars, or as desired; remember they are very rich. Wipe the knife clean with damp paper towels between cuts.
  19. Stored airtight, the brownies will keep well for 2 or 3 days. They also freeze well for up to a month. If freezing, leave the brownie slab whole, then cut into portions when partially thawed.

Makes 32  2 1/8- by 2 1/4-inch bars.

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Crispy Gingersnaps

95_cCarlTremblay_Gingersnaps_BakingClassThis recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies

This cookie recipe is from Sarah and Saenger, two friends who love to bake together and sell their cookies for a cause (read about them at left). These gingersnaps are easy to make — and they stay fresh for a long time, even when shipped to customers through the mail!

Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C)

Here’s what You Need

Cookie dough

2               cups flour

2               teaspoons baking soda

½              teaspoon salt

1               tablespoon ground ginger

1               teaspoon cinnamon

½              teaspoon ground cloves

¾              cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened

1               cup sugar

1               egg

¼               cup molasses

  • teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

 

Topping

½              cup sugar

2               teaspoons ground ginger

 

Here’s What You Do

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg, molasses, and fresh ginger.

Add the flour mixture in two parts, blending at low speed until thoroughly combined.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them. Roll the dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter.

To make the topping, mix the sugar and ground ginger in a shallow bowl. Roll the balls in the topping and place on the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes on the pan, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

“Excerpted from Baking Class © by Deanna F. Cook, photography © by Carl Tremblay, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”

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Join the “Dine-In” Dec. 3 for Family Health and Wealth

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Whether it’s a simple one-dish meal, casseroles, creative variations or three courses and dessert, carry forward the “dine-in” benefits with over 300,000 others on December 3rd!
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Whatever time of day or night you need to make that shared meal happen, nothing benefits relationships, school success, and even your family’s hard-earned savings like eating together at home as a family.
Leading this drive to thrive is the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences along with their professionals and partners. Share what you’ll do, join the list of committed dine-at-home diners or find great resources here.
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Give the Gift of How-to-Bake 

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After 35 years of baking everywhere and anyway I can with anyone 2 to 92 who’d join me, I love to find new ideas, recipes and resources to get the flour in the bowl and the heart and mind engaged.  It takes more than a cool app or web-site to get a baking buzz going in today’s kitchens.  There are at least three challenges to overcome:

  • Skill comfort to bake alone OR an available baking assistant
  • Available ingredients and tools
  • Time (inversely related to skill—the more baking skill, the less time you’ll need)

HomeBaking.org is ALWAYS a great place to start, so let me introduce our newest Writer’s Guild member, Deanna F. Cook. Deanna is a kids-cooking best-selling author, content director at Kidstir, as well as an acquisitions editor at Storey Publishing. She lives in western Massachusetts and is found online at deannafcook.com.

Her newest book, Baking Class, 2017, Storey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-61212-855-9, is perfect for building baking skills, baking for the family, and giving to someone you love.

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You can’t replace baking together as a gift that nourishes the whole person for a lifetime.  Contributing something you’ve baked for a meal or event builds self-sufficiency and true self-esteem. Deanna’s “baking companion” works great for kids ages 6–12 and features 50 easy-to-follow recipes.

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Deanna shares, “I invited more than 20 children over to my kitchen and we baked together and photographed the steps along the way. All the recipes are easy to follow, fun to look at, and can be made by kids with just a little help from a grown-up. “

Step-by-step photos teach bakers-in-training how to knead dough, make biscuits, popovers, decorate cookies, and make a perfect pie, along with essential skills like measuring flour and decorating a cake—perfect for meals or made-by-me-for-you gift giving!

You’ll start a new holiday meal “must-have” with Puffy Popovers, Just 5 ingredients—2 tablespoons butter, 2 eggs, 1cup milk, 1 cup all-purpose flour, and ½ teaspoon salt, a muffin cup pan and an oven! Popovers are “a science experiment you can eat” and MUST be locally made—yet another plus.

Teachers, get the total buy-in of students and parents by hosting an early childhood baking workshop using the Baking Class resources.

When you wrap a book to give, why not include a “time certificate,” for a date and place to bake some recipes side-by-side in 2018? It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Click here to get the recipe and instructions for Puffy Popovers

 

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Puffy Popovers

46_CarlTremblay_PuffyPopovers_BakingClass.jpgMakes 12

These treats are light and airy and yummy! Bake up a batch as a quick and easy after-school snack.

Preheat the oven to 375⁰ F (190⁰ C).

Here’s What You Need

1-2 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt
Here’s What You Do

  1. Place a small pat of butter in the center of each cup in a 12-cup muffin pan. Put the pan in the oven for just a minute or two to melt the butter, and then take it out.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the milk, flour, and salt. Whisk until most of the lumps are gone.
  3. Transfer the batter to a large measuring cup for easy pouring. Pour the batter into the buttered muffin pan cups, filling each about two-thirds full.
  4. Bake the popovers for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully pop them out of the muffin pan with a butter knife. Eat right away! They’re extra delicious with jam and honey.

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A Science Experiment You Can Eat!

Did you know that all baking is basically kitchen chemistry? Baking combines various ingredients and uses heat (and sometimes other steps, like kneading dough) to create a reaction that turns the ingredients into something different.

To make a perfect popover that’s crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside, you need a hot oven, flour, and eggs. Imagine your popover is like a hot air balloon: The shell of the balloon is made of the protein in the eggs and flour. The steam comes from the hot liquid (the milk) heating up and evaporating. As it fills with hot air, the balloon “pops over” the sides of the pan, making it a tasty chemistry experiment!

Excerpted from Baking Class © by Deanna F. Cook. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

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