Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas at Home

Every year Christmas is a huge, disappointing ordeal. We take time off work and head up to the inlaws where we sit and contemplate our navels for days on end. Everyone there is miserable and they spend the entire time we're there trying to get us to be as miserable as they are. And then the following week Thatboy tries to convince me that if we just moved closer, we could help everyone be less miserable. Which means I get to spend a miserable time there and look forward to some more misery when we get home.

One of the reasons I was aiming for an October baby was because Thatboy agreed with me that if we had a baby in October, there was no way we could trek up to his parents for the holidays. Not with a new baby! We broke the news to the inlaws when we went up for Easter and invited them to come down and spend Thatbaby's first Christmas with us. Even though they TMIL already taken time off work, that week, they declined. They didn't want to come down and see us.

As Christmas approached, Thatboy get more and more glum. He was sad about not going home, sad about not seeing his family. And I spent more and more energy into trying to make the holidays special for him.

Well, not just him. I wanted it to be special for Thatbaby too. A couple years ago I had made a stocking for a friend's baby. And I knew that I wanted to make one for Thatbaby too. I should have started it in November, but I didn't. All of a sudden it was December and I realized that I should probably get on it. Thatboy's grandmother had made him a green stocking with red trim, so he requested Thatbaby's be similar.

After a couple days of nonstop work it was complete!

(The other side has his name embroidered onto it)

Thatmom joined us for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Which meant she got some good baby holding time while we did fun things like make gingerbread houses.

(I think this is the best one we've ever made)

I let Thatboy pick out whatever he wanted for Christmas Eve dinner. The menu was rack of lamb, roasted broccoli and wild rice. And then the night before I realized I hadn't planned anything for dessert. Luckily, Channukah came before Christmas this year and one of my Channukah presents from Thatmom was Maida Heatter's Cakes. Growing up, Maida Heatter was who Thatmom turned to for desserts - literally. She actually wrote to Maida Heatter. This was, of course, before the internet and blogs where one can pose a quick question to a great baker. I felt sure that we could find an amazing dessert from the book. Thatboy picked out the Farmer's Daughter Cake - a classic: white cake with chocolate frosting. What makes the cake less classic is the fact that it is made without any butter/shortening/oil at all. All the fat content in this cake come from cream, which is why Maida dubs it the Farmer's Daughter cake - surmising that it was probably made on a dairy farm.

The frosting is thick and fudgey, a complement to the sort of plain cake below. While this cake probably would have gone over okay, since it was paired with the mocha walnut cake, it was definitely overshadowed.

Farmer's Daughter Cake (From Maida Heatter's Cakes)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups flour

  1. Heat the oven to 350. Spray an 8x8 pan with baking spray. Beat the eggs in an electric mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla, almond extract, baking powder and salt.
  3. Beat in the sugar.
  4. Add the cream.
  5. Lower the speed and add the flour, mixing until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, run a sharp knife around the sides and cool another five minutes. Turn out onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.

Classic Chocolate Frosting
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup milk
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 TBSP + 1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate with the milk and sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand for a minute.
  2. Beat the egg yolks a bit and temper it by adding half of the chocolate mixture.
  3. Pour the egg yolks back into the chocolate. Return to low heat and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Beat the cooled frosting for 10-15 minutes until it becomes thick and spreadable.
  6. Here comes the "pro tip part." Maida recommends pouring half of the frosting over the top of the cake and letting it cool a bit. Then pour the rest of it over. This way, she says, it won't go crazy running over the sides and pooling at the bottom.


  1. Fanny strikes again. Now that my daughter is grown Christmas is just not the same. But it is what it is and a great excuse to overindulge in more ways than one.

  2. Well I'm glad you got the christmas that you wanted! Sounds like you had way more fun.

  3. Christmas your way is the only way to go. Glad you got it.

  4. Thatbaby is sure cute! Is that a Glow worm???

    1. It is. Santa wanted something to help Thatbaby get to sleep a little easier.