We are having an ice storm today, so this is definitely a day to stay indoors and cook and maybe watch a Christmas movie or two...
It is now three sleeps until the big day and I am at the point of my preparations when I turn my attention to the baking.
I do not bake before December 22nd for various reasons, the greatest of which is that frankly, it will all be eaten before the big day! I don't know about you, but I do a lot less baking then I used to. We just don't eat a lot of sweets anymore.
Having said that, it wouldn't be Christmas without some decorated cookies, so my daughter and I will be making a couple of different batches of sugar cookies, one of which will be vegan for the son, as well as something chocolate-y, and I plan to make some chocolate truffles as well.
I always use Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe and I always dream that they will look like this...
...but they never do. Oh never mind, they taste good!
Here is the basic recipe I use:
Basic Sugar Cookies Recipe
Yield Makes 32
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)
- In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.
You can check out more recipes from Martha here.
There is another reason I held off my baking until today. All day today, CBC Radio 2 will be playing their Joy to the World concert, a Euroradio broadcast of a full day of holiday music programming from the countries of the European Broadcasting Union.
But you don't have to live in Canada or Europe to listen, you can listen here! For those of you tired of regular Christmas music by now, this is a palate cleanser of beautiful choral music and will certainly fill your spirit with the beauty and meaning of the season.
What's going to be playing today?
9 a.m.: Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, Zagreb, Croatia
Your morning begins with the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and conductor Tonči Bilić in the nation’s capital city. They’ll perform Ottorino Respighi’s Gli Uccelli (The Birds) before being joined by the Croatian Radio and Television Chorus and soloists for a performance of J.S. Bach’s glorious Magnificat.
10 a.m.: St. Martin in the Wall Church, Prague, Czech Republic
Czech baroque specialists Ensemble Inégal give a concert dedicated to the music of Bohemian composer Samuel Capricornus. Known for his vast output and short life, Capricornus is one of the most important composers of the 17th century. Ensemble Inégal, led by Adam Viktora, is giving the world premiere on period instruments of Capricornus’s Missa Nativitatis Domini.
11 a.m.: Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Budapest, Hungary
On Mahler’s copy of the score for Bruckner’s Te Deum, he scratched out "for chorus, solos, orchestra and organ ad libitum" and wrote "for the tongues of angels, heaven-blest, chastened hearts and souls purified in the fire!" Hungarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra join together to perform this jubilant work under conductor Gregory Vajda. The performance continues with the scherzo from Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1 and concludes with evocative music from Hungarian composer Miklós Kocsár entitled O wunderbare geheimnisvolle Nacht.
Noon: Barbican Hall, London, England
The hectic streets outside London’s Barbican Concert Hall are packed with last-minute shoppers, but we’ll travel inside the hall for Hector Berlioz’s reflective and luminous retelling of the Christmas story. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are led by François-Xavier Roth and joined by Trinity Laban Chamber Choir and four soloists for Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ oratorio.
1:45 p.m.: Blauwe Zaal, deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
Enjoy an all-Bach program from Belgium, with festive music from the Ricercar Consort and soloists led by Philippe Pierlot. You’ll hear two less famous Christmas cantatas by Bach. The icing on the cake is the bombastic and exuberant opening from a third cantata, which features dazzling timpani and trumpets.
3 p.m.: Kallio Church, Helsinki, Finland
It’s off to the heart of the Finnish capital for the eight-voiced Lumen Valo. They’ll be performing unaccompanied music from the Middle Ages right through to present day. Included on the program is music by Gabrieli, Palestrina, Praetorius and a new Christmas carol by composer Matthew Whittall, who came to Finland from Canada some 10 years ago.
4 p.m.: Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, Germany
The Bavarian Radio Chorus and members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Radio Orchestra bring you two sacred choral works with orchestra: Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten, preceded by Lauda per la natività del Signore by Ottorino Respighi. The performance will conclude with a rousing chorale by J.S. Bach.
5 p.m.: Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal, Que.
A wildly popular Montreal tradition since 1980, the annual CBC Sing-In celebrates the season with your favourite Christmas tunes performed by the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, the Sing-In Brass, organist Jonathan Oldengarm, conductor Jordan de Souza and more than 1,500 carollers singing along.
Finally a reminder to let me know if you want to be part of the blog giveaway. Details are here. I will be drawing names tomorrow afternoon, so still plenty of time!
Stay warm and cozy if you are in the storm belt and if you are some place warm - send it along to us! Stay safe out there!