Tag Archives: baking for the holidays

In the Kitchen with Sharon – May


From May Day to Memorial Day, keep your pantry “bake-ready” to crown May’s celebrations with home-baked specialties. If its worth celebrating, its worth your personal baker’s touch. My top five suggestions for this month are

#1: Bake a “bite-sized” bouquet of treats to fill a May Day basket made from a large cone-shaped coffee filter or large cup lined with a pretty napkin. Candidates include sunshiney Lemon Poppy Seed mini-muffins or a gluten-free option; bite-sized snickerdoodle cookies, your favorite cube-sized bars or sugar-coated soft pretzel bites.

#2: Savor something new for Cinco de Mayo. Wrap your favorite flavors in a homemade tortilla—made in a bag or bowl! Try fresh tortillas as Breakfast Burritos or Pocket Fruit Wraps, all found in Spanish or English at www.kidsacookin.org

#3: Always treat mom with chocolate…especially in her cinnamon rolls. Included on-site is a ”Cinnamon Roll How-to” video tutorial. If chocolate’s NOT the right thing, another half dozen cinnamon roll options for flavors and types are offered.

#4: Bake your bouquets for graduation celebrations. It’s not as hard as you think! View “step-by-step” pictorials for Flower Rolls and rosettes on Dough Sculpting 101 DVD. Bake centerpieces using the downloadable Bread Shaping for Fun guide.

#5: Set the table to bring back, or make, memories for Memorial Day. Plan tea, coffee, breakfast, brunch or a full meal and bring family and friends together. Ideas to get started are at the new resource. Do a little home work to include at least one recipe from an earlier generation, like a Homestead Biscuit or Cornbread, or a local traditional bread or dessert, if possible. You’ll find a wonderful archive of tried and true baking treasures from Nancy Baggett, one of HBA’s fine Writer’s Guild bakers.


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Show Some Love… National Pie Day is Friday!

pie_dayThe word on the street these days is “Pie” as the United States prepares to celebrate National Pie Day on Friday, January 23rd. It’s impossible to escape the magical hold pie has on us in our culture, with some of our earliest memories in the kitchen involving delicious Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving, or Grandma’s world famous Apple Pie. Take this opportunity to share your love of good old-fashioned pie (and Baking!) with some important people in your life. Check out some of our suggested PIE recipes below!


As you can see from the “pie chart” above, Apple Pie is the most popular type of pie in America. What else do you know about Apple Pie? Here are some fun facts:

1. Apple Pie was selected as the Official State Pie of Vermont in 1999

2. McDonald’s added their famous Apple Pie to their dessert menu in 1968.

3. In rural homes in the early 19th century, Apple Pie was favored more as a breakfast item.

4. Did you know there are more than 7,500 varieties of apples in the world?

5. Apples are a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae)

6. The first Apple Pie is believed to have been made over 600 years ago in England.

7. The average American eats 6 slices of Apple Pie a year.

8. Other names for a pie are: pastie, oggie, piraski, piragie, patty, and pierogi. More common names include: streusel, tart, turnover, and crumble.

9. Ann Coulter, Bill Gates, Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein, for one reason or another, have all been the victims of a public “pie-ing.”

10. 1 in 5 Americans admits to having eaten an entire pie by themselves!



Lemon Meringue Pie

Toasted Coconut Pie

Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie

Fruit Salad Pie

Berry Cheesecake in Chocolate Crust

Caramel Apple Pie

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Cranberry Apple Pie

Lattice Topped Cherry Pie

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Filed under Baking Events & Holidays, Educator Resources, Recipes

Holiday Gift Ideas from HomeBaking.org

slide33The Holidays offer great opportunities for giving, whether in the classroom or at home. We’re all scrambling this time of the year, so here are some personal and doable gift-giving ideas to help check  items off your to-do list!

Any number of baked goods can be gifted by combining all of the dry ingredients, then packaging in a bright and festive manner for recipients to prepare at their convenience.

IDEA #1 Make your dough one day, refrigerate; bake fresh the next. Refrigerated yeast roll dough shapes great, tastes better and stays fresh longer.

Baker’s Insider Tip: Add 1 Tablespoon potato flour or flakes per cup flour for best keeping qualities.

Use this recipe to divide and gift four friends each with these dinner rolls!

IDEA #2 “Made-by-me” noodles, crackers or bread sticks all tied up with a great soup! They’re easier than you think and can be eaten now or later!

For a great recipe for Bread Sticks, check out the Home Baking Association book Baking with Friends. The recipe can be found on pages 46-47.

For homemade pasta ideas, check this out!

For gourmet mixes galore, visit Rabbit Creek Gourmet.

Interested in making some delicious Cheese Crackers? Find the recipe here.

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Five Holiday Baking Tips

Holiday Baking tip #1 Mise en place – (pronounced meez en plas) in French it means “putting in place”, as in gathering everything you need before you start to bake. Measure ingredients, prep pans, preheat oven, being prepared makes it go more smoothly giving you a great finished product. Happy Holiday Baking everyone!

Holiday Baking Tip #2 Chocolate Substitutions – Baking is a precise art. And when it comes to chocolate, it’s important to get things just right. Here are some formulas to help you if you’re ever in need of a chocolate substitute.

• One 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon shortening.
• One cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels = 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate + 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar + 2 tablespoons shortening.
• 1 bar (4 ounces) sweet baking chocolate = 4 tablespoons cocoa + 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar + 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons shortening.

Extra tip: bittersweet and semisweet chocolate can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Bittersweet gives it a more sophisticated flavor due to its low sugar.

Holiday Baking Tip #3 Freezing Cookies – If you are freezing an already baked cookie, cool them thoroughly before freezing. Store each recipe in a separate freezer container that is labeled with the name and date. Most will freeze well for up to six months. You can store frosted cookies for up to two months, but we suggest you freeze the cookies unfrosted and then frost them just before serving.

To freeze individually raw cookie dough, roll in balls and put on a cookie sheet. Freeze until hard – about an hour. Then remove the frozen cookie dough balls from the cookie sheet and freeze in a gallon freezer bag. Make sure to label with date, baking time, baking temp and cookie variety. You can bake these at the same temperature called for in the recipe; just give them a minute or two longer.

Refrigerator /Icebox Cookies are cookies made from dough rolled into a long log. The cookies are sliced off one by one for even sizing and thickness. This can be done immediately, or you can freeze the log and slice them as needed.

iced_cookiesHoliday Baking Tip#4 Icing Cookies and Cakes – First make sure that cookies are completely cool before applying icing or it will melt. When adding food coloring, first mix the color into about 1 tablespoon of icing, and then blend that into the rest of the icing. You can keep adding more drops to get the depth of color you want. Try combining different ratios of drops and various colors to get all the colors of the rainbow.

Add 1 Tablespoon of Karo syrup to each cup of icing to help the icing set. You want a pretty stiff icing, however If it’s too thick, thin slowly by adding a few drops of water

Use a small offset or flexible-blade spatula or a rubber spatula to apply the icing. Push it from the center of the cookie to the edges, place on wire rack or wax paper to set. Work quickly so that the icing doesn’t dry out and start to set before you’re finished. You could cover any extra icing with plastic wrap and a wet towel

To make accent colors make a few colors then fill in Sandwich baggies twist into a cone and clip the end of the bag and it’s ready to use. Once the first coat of frosting is dry, you can pipe another color of frosting over the top to add details with accent colors and designs such as dots, lines, squiggles, and borders, when finish just toss the bag out.

Holiday Baking Tip #5  Which flour should you use? – The main difference among flour types is in the gluten content, which varies depending on whether the flour is made from hard wheat or soft wheat. Gluten is the protein that helps yeast stretch and rise. To achieve the best baking results, use the type of flour a recipe specifically calls for.

The California wheat council has some great information on all the different types of flours and their uses. Check it out here! http://bit.ly/1fdg8oX


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