Soft snowflakes are floating down outside my window as I type this, landing gently on vibrant evergreens and vivid red berries.
Something is stirring in me as I take in the peaceful scene outside…
By Jove, I think it’s the Christmas spirit.
My stomach is still bloated has barely regained its balance from Thanksgiving, and I’ve already got the next holiday on the brain.
Exactly one month!
I gots problems, people.
Why, just last weekend, I spent an entire day raking with my family, greedily anticipating Thanksgiving, and appreciating the beautiful fall weather.
How quickly times change, no?
I had a very beautiful, very long, very poetic post written to go along with this.
Only problem? I wrote it using the blogger app on my phone. What a Big Mistake that was… (Picture me shaking my fist at the blogging gods right now.)
I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the blog for some time. Thanksgiving really took it out of me, as I decided to undertake the prep and cooking of the entire meal myself.
The last few weeks, in terms of Thanksgiving prep, have gone something like this:
I ordered the turkey (no, I don’t eat meat, but my family does).
I went to my local butcher at an ungodly hour in the morning, to make sure I got my hands on some good local meat products: fresh bacon, fresh cranberry-sage sausages, and freshly-rendered lard.
I went grocery shopping (by meself) after a long basketball practice; I spent a ridiculous amount of money and could hardly push the cart, and I’m no weakling. I must have purchased 200 pounds of food that day.
I went and got the turkey from the farm, a trek that ended up being far harder than me going out and hunting a damn turkey myself. As it turns out, there are multiple “Creamery” Roads, complete with “ninety-degree turns” right near house number 200s in the nearby Slaterville Springs. Can you guess who went to the wrong one? What turned out to be the completely wrong one? Yes, me. And don’t laugh. I had to drive 5 miles in a state forest OFF-ROAD in my Volvo to get to the wrong farm, only to discover that the house numbers went from 194 to 204. What the…?!? Yes, I went 45 minutes past the correct Creamery Road. Upon this realization, I cursed, cried, and punched my steering wheel, à la Shit Girlfriends Say (go to 2:07). I’m kidding. But I did wheel my car around and speed back through the forest as fast as I could, suspension be damned.
I cooked. A lot. The menu?
Sourdough bread, gluten-free cheese crackers, cheeses, and grapes
Roasted squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and sweet potatoes
Roasted lemony brussels sprouts with cranberries, roasted garlic, and maple-balsalmic glaze
Quince and brown-butter basted turkey
Smashed fingerling potatoes with scallions and bacon
(Gluten-free) Cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, onions, and sage
Apple cider cranberry sauce
(Healthy) Pumpkin pie in an almond-date crust
Salted caramel apple thyme pie in a cheddar cheese and lard crust with maple whipped cream
Maple crème fraîche tart
Copious amounts of Prosecco, Champagne, and wine
It was all delicious; I was very happy. And exhausted. Still am.
The night before Thanksgiving, we celebrated my oldest brother’s birthday. I made him a French toast cake, which consisted of a brown sugar, brown butter cake filled with cinnamon cream cheese, frosted with a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a maple caramel glaze, and finished with candied bacon. Yowza.
I’ll be around more often; I promise. After all, I have some serious holiday baking calling my name.
P.S. I’m thankful for you guys! It seriously awes me that I even have readers. Love y’all.
French Toast Cake
for the cake:
3 sticks unsalted butter, browned
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (save the whites)
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup, topped off with buttermilk to equal 1 1/4 cups
Let the butter cool until barely warm to touch. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a half sheet pan. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla to the butter and beat until combined. Add in the eggs and egg yolks and mix to combine. Add in the maple syrup-buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Dump in the flour and baking powder and beat until homogeneous. Spread into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
for the bacon:
2 strips bacon
brown sugar, as needed
in a preheated oven, bake bacon, covered in brown sugar, until crispy, about 15 minutes; flip halfway through and coat with more brown sugar.
for the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
big pinch cinnamon and nutmeg
big pinch salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, or as needed
Beat all ingredients together until fluffy.
for the frosting:
4 ounces egg whites
4 ounces brown sugar
big pinch salt
12.8 ounces butter, room temp
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix egg whites, salt, and sugar together. Heat over a pan of steaming water until the egg whites reach 145 degrees F, whisking all the while. Remove from heat, and beat until stiff meringue forms and bowl is cool to the touch. Slowly add in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, and continue to beat until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
for the caramel:
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
big pinch salt
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons cream
Melt butter together with salt, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup maple syrup over medium heat and cook until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cream and last tablespoon maple syrup. Use immediately or refrigerate and reheat and recook until smooth before use.