You know what I always find out during the holidays? There’s never enough time to get everything done. That’s why I always start baking a few months before Christmas.
Up until this year, I felt like I always had a jump on things when I started my holiday baking at the beginning of November, but I feel like I’m almost missing the boat by only starting in the past week. The holidays are literally popping up everywhere I look: with red cups at Starbucks and holiday lights in the mall, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas right this minute.
There are only 41 days until Christmas 2015, and unless you get everything done last minute on Christmas Eve that means there are only approximately 40 days to get baking. Last week we made holiday barsand this week we’re going to get busy making holiday bread.
Why would you make bread at Christmas when there are so many different types of treats you could whip up? There’s something comforting about a loaf of sweet bread during the holidays, and I can tell you from past experience they make great gifts. I’ve actually wrapped up a warm loaf of bread fresh out of the oven, popped a holiday Blu-ray like Elf or Miracle on 34th Street in the bag, and headed to a friend’s house for an early gear up for Christmas evening. The bread is always a bigger hit than the movie.
Here are a few of my favourite holiday bread recipes.
Holiday Rum Eggnog Bread
You can’t go wrong with a dash of rum during the holidays, and even if you’re favourite rum is the hot buttered variety, you’ll still love this holiday rum eggnog bread. It’s really easy to make too, and you’ll love how your kitchen smells while it’s baking. Recipe and photo from the Foodnetwork.com.
1 cup eggnog
2 teaspoons rum extract
2 1⁄4 cups flour
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease only the bottom of a 9×5 loaf pan (or three 5 3/4 x 3 1/4 inch loaf pans). In a large bow beat the eggs.
Blend in sugar, eggnog, butter, rum extract and vanilla extract.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, stirring to combine.
Mix into the eggnog mixture; stir just enough to moisten the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into pan(s).
If baking bread in large pan, bake 40-60 minutes, or until a tester in the center comes out clean.
If baking the breads in the smaller pans, bake 35-40 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan.
Cool breads completely, then wrap tightly. Keep in the refrigerator.
Chai-spiced tea loaves
I like a chai tea latte just as much as the next person, but I can’t say I ever thought of baking chai tea into a bread until last year. One of my neighbours brought these over and I was instantly hooked. They remind me of spice breads, and because you can make them in mini loaf pans, they make a great gift for a family or the teachers at your kid’s school. Photo and recipe from Delish.com.
½ c. water
1 tbsp. water
1 tea bag (black tea)
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. chai spice blend
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour six 5 3/4″ by 3 1/4″ by 2″ mini metal loaf pans.
In microwave-safe 1-cup liquid measuring cup, heat 1/2 cup water in microwave on High 1 1/2 minutes or until it boils. Remove from microwave. Place tea bag in water; press with spoon to submerge. Set it aside to steep and cool while continuing with recipe.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine flour, chai spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In small bowl, mix yogurt with 1/3 cup cooled tea; discard any remaining tea.
In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in granulated and brown sugars. Beat 2 minutes or until fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well blended. Beat in flour mixture alternately with yogurt mixture just until combined. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake loaves 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Run thin knife around loaves to loosen from sides of pans; remove loaves from pans, and cool completely on wire racks, about 2 hours.
When loaves are cool, place waxed paper under wire racks. In small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon water until smooth, adding more water, a few drops at a time, if necessary to make a thick glaze. Place glaze in heavy-weight plastic bag; snip small opening from corner, and drizzle glaze in zigzag pattern over loaves. Let stand until glaze sets, about 30 minutes.
Wrap each loaf in plastic wrap or foil. Store loaves at room temperature up to 3 days. Or place wrapped loaves in self-sealing plastic bags, and store in freezer up to 3 months.
Christmas Monkey Bread
What would Christmas morning be without monkey bread? I’ve always been jealous of people who can get it together enough on Christmas eve to put one of those overnight monkey breads in the crockpot or have it ready for the oven in the morning. I’m always too busy, so I like to make my monkey bread early and either freeze it or just enjoy it before everything gets Christmas crazy. Photo and recipe straight from one of my favourite treat websites: the KitchenMagpie.com.
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of milk, warmed to 115 degrees
⅓ cup water, warmed to 115 degrees
¼ cup white sugar
2¼ teaspoons of bread machine yeast or rapid rise
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for your work surface
2 tsp of salt
½ cup of toasted pecans
½ cup of chopped red and green Christmas candied cherries
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed brown sugar
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup of melted butter
Preheat your oven for rising, turn it on to 175 degrees then turn it off when it’s heated, this is as warm as it should get.
In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.
This recipe is as easy to do by hand as it is by mixer, so pick your poison.
If you would like to use a stand mixer, mix flour and salt into the mixer bowl that is fitted with a oiled dough hook. Oiling the hook makes sure the dough doesn’t climb the hook and go all crazy on you.
Using the lowest setting, start the dough hook going and slowly add the milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and let your dough hook do the work until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but if it is too wet to come together into a ball, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour. It should just barely stick to your hands, nothing more. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form a smooth, round ball.
If you want to do this by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture, pouring into the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough is difficult to stir and it’s almost a ball in the middle of the bowl. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating any loose scraps back into the dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes, giving those arms a workout and a half! Shape into a round ball.
Take the ball of dough and place in a well oiled bowl, covering it up. Put it the oven and let the dough rise until doubled in size, anywhere from 45-60 minutes.
When that is done, grease your bundt pan, place a few cherries and pecans in the bottom and set aside.
Take out the dough and on a lightly floured work surface roll it into a 8 inch by 8 inch square.
Once you have that 8×8 square, mark off 8 sections, each way, so you are ending up with 64 lovely little squares.
Cut the squares apart,making sure to separate them as you cut, they love to stick back together which defeats the purpose entirely.
Melt the ½ cup of butter in a bowl.
In a larger bowl combine the brown sugar and 2½ tsp of cinnamon.
Rolls a dough square into a ball, dip it in the butter, dip it in the sugar mix then place it in the bundt pan.
Stagger the layers.Build like you would build a brick wall, staggering the “bricks” so that the seams are not in the same place ever, building a lovely wall of dough. Sprinkle a few cherries and pecans between each of the layers, however you want.
In about 45-50 minutes the dough will rise almost to the top of the pan.
Time to bake! After you remove the pan from the oven preheat it to 350 then get those babies back in there to bake.
This took about 22-25 minutes in my oven.
The bread will look slightly dark and crisp on the outside.
There’s nothing stopping you from baking up a loaf or two of holiday bread and gifting it to a friend or loved one. It’s the perfect type of baking to kick off the holidays and get you in the mood for those Christmas carols they’re playing in the stores.
If you need a few supplies to help you bake bread, here’s a few of my top picks for bakeware:
Mini loaves bake up easily in this mini loaf pan
Try out some of these great holiday bar recipes
There’s nothing you can’t make or bake if you have the Cusinart Baking Starter Set