Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Thanksgiving baking schedule

For the last couple of years, my Thanksgiving food responsibilities have been the baked goods: bread and dessert. I have a 3-hour drive up to my parents' house, so I need to bring something that's easily portable and won't suffer too much from a ride in the car. Also, I'm the baker in the family, and not to puff myself up too much, but if I didn't make fresh baked goods, we wouldn't have them. Thanksgiving dessert when I was growing up was usually an Entenmann's or Pepperidge Farm cake with Ready-Wip (not that there's anything wrong with that). Now, dessert is something that I've made from scratch... with Ready-Wip. Some things are TRADITION, people.

For the bread, I decided to make sacaduros, rolls that have a cube of butter enclosed in the middle. You pretty much cover them in flour before baking, and the sealed ends come apart a bit during baking. The recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible, and uses her Basic Hearth Bread as a base. The Basic Hearth Bread is my standard "crusty bread" recipe, so I'm already familiar with the dough. The new part for me is the shaping and folding of the dough to create little packages around the butter.

The dessert is a gingerbread-cider cake, which has never gotten anything less than raves the other times I've made it. Yesterday at work, everyone was talking about their plans and the dishes they were making for Thanksgiving... everyone that heard about this cake said that it sounds very much like something I need to bring in. (They're very fond of cake). The cake part is a standard gingerbread, and as it bakes, it makes a caramel sauce on the bottom of the pan. The recipe was the winner of the Boston Herald's holiday baking contest a couple of years ago, and came to me via the Best American Recipes 2003-2004. I can't say enough about the Best American Recipes series of cookbooks. There's a new one each year, and the editors go through countless sources to find a cross-section of the year's best recipes. They test each and every dish that's in the book, and there truly is a bit of everything (hearty family meals next to elegant gourmet offerings). I haven't had a recipe from this series come out badly; I'm eagerly awaiting the 2006-2007 edition, probably out early next year.

So, I thought, for fun, I'd share my baking schedule. I didn't want to make anything really far in advance and freeze it, so I decided to do all my work Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before leaving for my parents' house.

Tuesday, 12:30 pm - 9 pm: Work

9:30 pm : Go to Giant for more bread flour and other baking necessities. Grumble at Giant for only having whole cloves, not ground cloves. Decide that the cake will be acceptable without cloves (there's only 1/4 tsp to begin with, and plenty of other flavorings going on).

10:00 pm: Get home, check e-mail.

10:30 pm: Pour self glass of sherry. Assemble sponge for sacaduros.

12:30 am: Mix bread dough and knead it. Let dough rest for 20 minutes, then knead more until it's the correct texture.

1:00 am: Put dough in refrigerator to rise overnight. Go to bed.

Wednesday, 8:00 am: Get dough out of the refrigerator. Discover that it's nowhere near doubled in volume because it only had 7 hours in the fridge, not 12 like I normally give it. Give it time to come up to room temperature, and let it finish rising.

9:30 am: Once bread dough has finished rising. Make cake batter.

9:45 am: Put cake in the oven. Shape rolls while the cake bakes.

10:45 am: Pull finished cake out of the oven. Crank up oven heat for rolls, set cake aside to cool.

11:00 am: Put rolls in the oven.

11:20 am: Take finished rolls out of the oven, set aside to cool.

12:00 noon: Leave for parents' house.

I'll try to get pictures up later in the week, but for now: Happy Thanksgiving!

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