Magnolia Bakery 16: The Thanksgiving Cake

I did a lot of baking for Thanksgiving this year. My celebrated twice, one day with one side of the family, another day with the other side of the family. I decided to make two different cakes, one for each day. Both are out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. This post is about the cake I made for Thanksgiving proper. The cake I made for Thanksgiving Round 2 will come out later in the week.

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What I’m Making for Thanksgiving

This year, my family is doing two separate Thanksgiving dinners. Thursday is with my mom’s side of the family. Saturday, is with my father’s side. Normally, I don’t make anything for Thanksgiving dinner. But, this year, that changes.

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Barefoot Contessa 53 – Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well look at this! A Barefoot Contessa recipe! The first since sometime in May…I think?

I was in the mood to bake, but didn’t really want to have to go out and purchase any additional ingredients. Which basically means that I had the necessary items to whip up chocolate chip cookies. Then came the decision to make this version from Ina.

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Baking with Grandma

Every year, my grandmother makes dozens and dozens of cookies for the holidays. Last year, she made roughly 144 dozen cookies. They’re not all for the family — don’t worry, we aren’t swimming in cookies from one Christmas Day to the other. She gives them away to friends, the places of work for her children and grandchildren, her old clients, etc. Everyone really loves them and look forward to receiving their package each year.

Her process is a long one that begins long before the week leading up to Christmas. Most of the ingredients are purchased by the end of September. The month of October begins with making doughs that can be frozen before the cookies are made. Around mid-October she takes a week off from the Christmas baking to make Halloween sugar cookies. These don’t number anywhere near the amount she makes for Christmas.

Once the Halloween cookies are made the real work begins. Each day, about 5 or six days a week, she bakes one or two different kinds of cookies. Once baked and embellished they get boxed by type and sit in a freezer until mid-December when she start to assemble the packages. Eventually, they are shipped off to the happy recipients.

Usually, she is able to and enjoys baking alone. However, this is one cookie that for the last few years, I’ve helped her bake. Her “filled cookies” are very labor intensive and require many steps. I have to help with the rolling and the filling. Once they are on the trays, the baking process is no different from any other type of cookie. Last week, I had a day off from work. So, Grandma and I planned to carve out a couple hours to tackle the “filled cookies.”

This year was a bit easier since the dough was already made so we just had to roll it out, cut into squares, fill with the jelly or nut mixture, roll up the dough into a small log, and bake them off. Since we’ve doing this for a few years, we have the system down to a science and I was only there a little over an hour.

I do have pictures below, but I forgot to take one of the cookies once they were baked. I’ve been helping my grandmother in the kitchen on and off for many years. When I was a child, we actually lived right across the street from her for a time. After school and weekends, I would go over there and help her with whatever she was doing in the kitchen. Whether it be baking something, making candy for the holidays, make lunch or dinner, etc. I guess I can credit my interest and love of baking to her.

The dough, cut into squares, with the filling. These were filled with a jelly and nut combo filling.
The rolled and “sealed” cookies waiting for the oven. We decided to sprinkle some sugar on top of these, since there was no egg wash it didn’t stick very well.

Magnolia Bakery 15 – Lemon Vanilla Bundt Cake

Sometimes you’re just in the mood to bake a cake.

That was me one day last week. I had been feeling a little out of sorts and figured baking a yummy treat would help cheer me up. I also wanted to bake something other than cookies. Eventually, I settled on yet another recipe out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Magnolia Bakery 14 Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies

After suffering a baking dry spell for more than two weeks, I finally had the opportunity (and the desire) the bake once again. I can’t really explain why I wasn’t in the mood to bake over the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it was just a lack of free time issue, or maybe it was the increase in the cost of ingredients was starting to make an impact on my wallet. Whatever the issue was, it seems to have fluttered away.

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Friday Night Cooking Plans

To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I cooked for my family on a Friday night and blogged about it. During the colder months, I was doing it pretty consistently. There was good reason: I was (slowly) making my way through Ina Garten’s recipes. As life started to return to “normal” when the warm weather came, I started doing more and was spending less time at home, thus I was cooking less.

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Herbal Update 11/3/2021

Wow! I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last Herbal Update post. I don’t know about you, but it seems like ever since we started August, we’ve been in this whirlwind. Here we are, the day after Election Day. It seems like I blinked and September and October were over!

Just because I haven’t been blogging about my herbal education, doesn’t mean there has not been progress made.

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Kitchen Questions: How Do Vegetarians Get Their Protein? And Other Common Questions

If you’re one of those people that is skeptical of a vegetarian diet, then let me alleviate some of these concerns for you. I’m also going to talk about some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some people are hesitant to switch to a meat-free diet and lifestyle simply because it is the “fear of the unknown.” That’s what this blog post is for. It’s an attempt to answer some questions and make people feel better about the possibility going meat-free or reducing the amount of meat in their diets.

Long-time readers of my blog may be wondering why I am posting something like this. Are you a vegetarian? I am not. However, I’m slowly making the switch to a more plant-based diet and working on cutting out certain meats and other animal products. For example, I have not consumed cow’s milk directly from the jug in years. Instead, I use almond or soy milk. In baking, that’s a different story — at least for now. The reason why I compiled this information is to have a resource for those who are curious about making the switch to a more “flexitarian” diet or a plant-based one.

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Kitchen Experiments: Making Vanilla Extract

A couple of weekends ago, my partner and I finally put an idea of ours into action. We would try our hand at making our own vanilla extract. This is something both of us wanted to do for a while, but life always caused delays to it actually happening.

We were first inspired to do this separately, getting the idea from different chefs. He is a fan of Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel and I became obsessed with a TV chef on Discovery+ who also uses her own vanilla extract. Additionally, I first stumbled on this idea from one of Ina Garten cookbooks where she details the steps to making one’s own bottle of vanilla.

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