I am running a Facebook "Advent Calendar". You can find it by searching for "Burbania Posts". many of them don't translate well to this format, but when they do I will post them here...
ADVENT DAY 11, 2017
I haven't managed to bake anything this holiday season. On the good side, I haven't burned anything! On the bad side, I really should. Baked goods are a tradition. I usually give them to fellow church-staff and volunteers. I will get right on it...maybe...
My barriers to baking joy are the classic ones. First, there is time. This year, Christmas Eve is on the fourth Sunday of Advent. This creates a compressed holiday for church leaders. Second, there is expense. I could probably by a house--granted, somewhere cheaper--for the amount of money I have spent on fruitcake ingredients. I don't mind being a renter but...wow...that is a steep price to pay for flour, nuts and apricots.
Actually, even though I haven't baked anything, I did roast some chestnuts last night. We put up our Moravian star (since fallen down) and the tree is decorated. When this happens I do the hot chocolate and chestnuts thing in the evening and sit in front of the Christmas tree to edit (again and again) the various orders of service for the next couple Sundays.
Chestnuts are affordable. They are the "fiddleheads of the winter" in that they are tasty but of limited interest. Chestnut roasting is easy. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut an "X" in each chestnut (usually the round side) and place them in a single layer on a tray of some sort. Wait 25 minutes. Are they exploded? They are done. However, they are also 425 degrees! Be careful out there...
This year I will hopefully make gingerbread. It is simpler. Then the wife and I can take the savings and retire to a nice trailer in the woods. Of course I still have that fruitcake recipe. Here it is...
Fruit-Nut Bread of Advent Awesomeness
It should be noted that I am not a great baker. This recipe is modified from a couple of cookbooks that I usually use. One is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my parents bought me when I got an apartment in college. The other is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. If you know someone who does not have a copy. Get them one for Christmas. There is also a vegetarian one.
This is for two loaves because no one makes just one. That is silliness.
1 stick of butter
2 cups white flour
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups sugar (a small amount (1/4-1/3 cup) of this can be brown sugar if you are a New Englander)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 cups mulled (heated with cinnamon and cloves) apple cider
(other juices in a pinch but I actually will use a strong herbal tea first and it really should be cider)
2 cups dried fruit
1 cup walnuts chopped
About the fruit: Sure, you can use what you want, but if you asked for my recipe, the cider and the fruit are key. I use a small amount (1/4 cup) of crystallized ginger. Then I hit stuff that feels Biblical to me. I use apricots, dates, figs, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries usually. All in their dried form and then steeped in the hot cider (I also add the butter) for about 45 minutes. The steeping gives them enough time to mingle and then cool before adding the eggs, which you do not want to cook too early. The rest is easy, put the dries in the liquids. Stir gently until it is a sticky mess. You might need a teensy bit more cider. Put it in the loaf pan and.
Cook it at 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour! Don't make the same mistake I did...