‘Tis the season for baking, when chilly weather keeps us indoors and the warmth from a hot oven is welcome. And with so many people to gift, from our next-door neighbors to our children’s teachers, there’s nothing more well-received than a home-baked good. We asked three local bakers to share recipes perfect for holiday giving, whether served after a dinner party or wrapped with cellophane and a bow. Make an extra batch of each for your own home and cozy up for a sweet December.
For those with dietary restrictions that might make typical baking not so enjoyable, Taylor Nicholson of Dallas-based Unrefined Bakery provides a recipe that’s free of gluten, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts and refined sugar. Pick up a loaf of ready-to-eat gingerbread at the bakery’s new location in Fort Worth to make the easy bread pudding shown here. “It’s awesome for Christmas morning,” she says. “Just prep the bread in advance.”
- 3/4 loaf Unrefined Bakery Gingerbread
- 1/2 loaf Unrefined Bakery 5 Grain Sandwich Bread
- 5 organic eggs
- 2 cups organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk (sweetened is fine, if preferred)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup organic pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
- One to two days in advance, cube the Gingerbread and 5 Grain bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread out on cookie sheets to dry out. Keep in an unheated oven, uncovered.
- When ready to bake, spray an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish with olive oil and fill with bread cubes. Whisk together the eggs, almond milk, cinnamon and pecans and pour over bread cubes. Stir slightly to combine, still leaving some cubes on top, out of the egg mixture.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Drizzle with Butter Pecan Sauce (recipe follows).
Butter Pecan Sauce:
- 1/4 cup organic pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup non-dairy butter (Earth Balance soy-free is advised)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
In a saucepan, combine pecans and butter. Toast pecans slightly until fragrant. Add maple syrup and warm through before serving.
— 3250 Hulen St., Fort Worth, 972-467-2494, www.unrefinedbakery.com
Brittany Williams launched Bakeology a year ago, baking everything from hand-decorated sugar cookies to cheesecake pops for clients from her home. This summer she opened her first storefront in the former Sugar & Frosting space in Old Town Keller. Here she shares a perfect recipe for cookies made with pure maple syrup and plenty of luscious butter. “They’re soft on the inside and crispy on the outside,” Williams says. “They’re like the maple doughnut of the cookie world.” Don’t forget a cold glass of milk, especially if leaving some for Santa Claus.
Soft Maple Butter Cookies
Yield: 1 dozen
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the next six ingredients. Beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Beat in flour. Be careful not to overmix.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. (Tops will still look slightly soft and pale in color; they will look undercooked.)
- Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Remove; cool on a wire rack. Centers will dip as cookies cool. Drizzle with Maple Icing (recipe follows).
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon LorAnn maple-flavored oil (optional; found at baking supply stores and online)
- Stir together heavy cream, melted butter and maple syrup. Whisk in powdered sugar and oil. Whisk to desired consistency.
— 126 Taylor St., Keller, 817-562-2500, www.bakeologydfw.com
Three Danes Baking Company
The three Danes of Three Danes Baking Company are Darlene Marks, her mother, Erna, and sister, Melissa. Marks and her mother started selling authentic Danish pastries and cookies from their home three years ago before moving to a storefront inside their family-owned and operated bed-and-breakfast in south Fort Worth this year. Overnight guests get a continental breakfast with selections like fresh fruit galettes, hand pies and buttery shortbread cookies like those shown here. The bakery is open to the public Friday through Sunday.
Finsk Brød (Finnish Shortbread)
Yield: approximately 3 dozen cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- Sparkling sugar for sprinkling
- Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until soft and smooth. Add almond extract. Add flour in small increments, mixing continually, until dough comes together.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Lightly flour work surface. Roll dough into a rectangle, the thickness of your ring finger. Cut dough into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Brush pieces with egg wash, sprinkle with almonds and sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
— 712 May St., Fort Worth, 817-690-8465
Celestina Blok’s first book, Lost Restaurants of Fort Worth, is out now and covers iconic restaurants of Fort Worth’s past that are long gone.