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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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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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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A Small Carrot Cake for a Celebration

Over the weekend, I made a carrot cake for my friend’s birthday. Since the celebration was small, he didn’t want a large cake. So I had the perfect idea: a 6-inch cake!

I’ve always wanted to make a small cake, so this was the perfect opportunity.

The recipe came from Sally’s Baking Addiction. She has many 6-inch cake recipes on her website and has found that even most cupcake recipes that make between 12-15 cupcakes are the perfect amount of batter for a 6-inch cake.

Here is the end result:

Though the cake didn’t turn out exactly as I would have liked — it become lopsided and the cream cheese frosting was challenging to work with — the cake itself was very tasty and I do recommend trying this recipe for yourself. If you’re interested in using this recipe the next time you have a Carrot Cake Emergency, it can be found on Sally’s website here.

Magnolia Bakery 13 – Cracked Sugar Cookies

Last weekend was full of baking! It began with the Harvest Apple Cupcakes which were a big hit! However, the baking bug was not satiated, so I had the urge to make cookies. Plus, what else is there to do on a gloomy fall Sunday afternoon?

I knew cookies would be far less time consuming than something like cupcakes. Plus, leftovers are much easier to transport since they can be easily packaged and I wouldn’t have to worry about frosting getting messed up. So, thumbing through the MBC, I decided on the Cracked Sugar Cookies.

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Magnolia Bakery 12 – Harvest Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Meringue Buttercream

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am lucky enough to have off on Fridays. While this is great for practical reasons like doctor’s appointments and getting my car’s oil changed, it also allows me enough time to actually do something I enjoy: bake. This past Friday, I was still riding the apple wave that started the weekend before when I went apple picking with some friends.

I knew I wanted to work with apples this week, but I also wanted to make something different. I was tired of just making cookies or brownies. It seems that I had been making a lot of those lately. Then I remembered that there was a “harvest-themed” recipe in the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. After looking it up, I knew that this was the recipe I had to make this week.

There were a few reasons why this recipe spoke to me this week.

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Magnolia Bakery #11 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones

Friday was the first day of October, and to be honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better Fall day! The sun was out, but it was a cooler day, and the air was nice and crisp. After taking my usual morning walk, I had the urge to make yummy Fall treats. I was craving the scent of pumpkin spice, warm baked goods, and maybe even chocolate!

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