The baking bug bit! I didn’t expect to be doing much baking for the holidays this year, but…

For many Christmases I’ve made a dozen or so different cookies and kolachies (a sweet yeast roll with nuts or poppy seed filling – yum!) as well as the traditional gingerbread cookies that get decorated to the hilt. There was also a cookie exchange to get me going and in the mood. We really didn’t need to have so many cookies as the Historical Society usually blesses my love with a basketful of cookies in exchange for his taking care of the yard of the local historical building across the street from us. We would have plenty of cookies to see us through the holidays – and then some! Nothing quite beats a treat of Christmas cookies in the heat of summer. 🙂

This year they dropped the cookie exchange at church. And the Historical Society hasn’t been seen – one of their leaders died this past year and I’m thinking the cookies have been forgotten.

Well, I got to thinking of various baked good needs that were coming up: the Quilt Center wanted to celebrate the season before breaking for the holidays, our music group at church would need some sort of gift from us, and my siblings Christmas gathering would require something brought along.

Wound up making two different flourless cookies for the Quilt Center (one of the directors can’t do gluten). For the church musicians, a double batch of …. well, I hate to call it fruit cake because that conjures up too many memories of bad candied citron – whatever it was supposed to be. What I make is on the order of lots of fruit (dried cranberries, apricots, dates, raisins, mangoes, canned pineapple, applesauce) and walnuts held together with a bit of cake dough.

And for my family gathering, because I ran across the recipe while looking up the other ones, an applesauce bread that my Mom used to make. Very dense and moist and loaded with dates and nuts – and applesauce. What I remember best about the bread is the ‘hard sauce’ icing that was used on each slice. Mom wasn’t a drinker, but she always added whiskey to the icing for this particular bread. And for a kid, that was really special!

I’ve always heard about wrapping a baked product in cheesecloth soaked in some alcohol, so I thought I’d give it a try. My love had some Southern Comfort in the house, and with his blessing, I’ve got four of the breads wrapped in some pretty heady cheesecloth. They will only have a week to sit and soak in…hope that is enough time!

The only other baking yet to do will be when the boys come home. Gingerbread cookies have been a tradition with them – my love does the mixing and cutting out of the cookie shapes and the boys do the decorating. I get to be the official oven timer. Started when the oldest was two and we received a tin cookie cutter in the shape of a man’s silhouette complete with top hat. Haven’t missed a year since then. Each year the decorating gets more wild as the decorating options change. Some of the cookies wind up with more sprinkles and gumdrops than dough. If nothing else, it makes for a grand time around the kitchen with everyone having fun and being blissfully creative.

Hmmmm, I might yet do some kolachies. And maybe some pizelles. And we don’t have any Russian tea cakes, either……

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