• Carolyn’s Christmas Toffee

    Toffee. Good at any time, but best for Christmas.

    Toffee. Good at any time, but best for Christmas.

    And the sprint begins……Now that Thanksgivukkah is over here at the farm, we have only three weeks until Christmas. We also have a few family birthdays, a party to throw, and many to attend, in just 22 days. Yikes! Of course, these events are a delight. Even with the craziness of the holidays, time with friends and celebrating together is something to treasure. The only challenge with all these events is figuring out what to bring as a gift…but Carolyn (like always) has us covered.

    toffee3toffee4toffee5We will bring wine and/or spirits for those who like such things (and, shockingly, many of our friends do like a bit o’ booze) but we often give things we make here at the farm. A lot of Putney Farm jam and fruit butters will be doled out over the next few weeks, and they will be quite tasty (IMHO). But if you are extra-lucky, Carolyn will bring you some home-made toffee. This my friends is the good stuff.

    toffee6toffee7toffee8And not nearly as hard to make as you think. Toffee requires only a few common ingredients, one special tool and a little patience. Basically, if you can read a candy thermometer (or a thermocouple digital thermometer), you can make toffee. And if you mess up, it will still taste pretty good, and you get to try another batch. A fun holiday project and a perfect gift. (Who doesn’t like sugar, butter and chocolate?) Continue reading

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  • Gingerbread Cake For Christmas

    Gingerbread Cake. Merry Christmas!

    Gingerbread Cake. Merry Christmas!

    Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas to all! For all the stress of the holidays, it is still a magical time of year. At it’s best, Christmas is a celebration of hospitality and generosity. While we hope it is never a necessity for anyone, it is good to have an annual reminder that giving to others (or baking, or cooking, or mixing a cocktail) is its own reward. We wish you peace.

    ginger3ginger4While Christmas does have deeper meaning, we also enjoy the food and drink. We already shared some Christmas cocktails (and remember there are twelve days of Christmas to work with), but we also want to share our favorite dessert, gingerbread. We enjoy gingerbread any way we can get it, in cookies, sheet cakes or this beautiful ring cake. We love the deep spicy flavor of gingerbread and the smell says “holidays” to just about everyone. The funny thing, though, is that we think that you could just as easily call it “molassesbread”. This recipe features a big splash (does molasses splash?) of molasses and oatmeal stout beer. When combined with a full slate of holiday spices, the funky molasses and roasted maltiness of the stout make for one seriously moist and flavorful cake. Once you have this gingerbread, it’s hard to go back.

    ginger5ginger2The recipe comes from the Gramercy Tavern in New York City and was published in 2008 by Smitten Kitchen. We are lucky enough to have dined a few times at the Gramercy Tavern and it is simply one of our favorite restaurants anywhere in the world. As for Smitten Kitchen, it is one of the best food blogs out there (great cookbook, too). And we get to visit Smitten Kitchen any time we want, we don’t even have to be in New York. In any event, when one of your favorite blogs posts a recipe from one of your favorite restaurants, the dish is likely to be good. We made this recipe for the first time a few years ago, now we can’t wait for Carolyn to make it as a Christmas treat. Oh, and did we mention you can make French toast with this gingerbread? (And if there is any left over, you should.)

    ginger6ginger7Making this gingerbread is, happily, pretty standard baking. (We will note this is another very moist cake that uses oil, rather than butter, hmmmm…) The only real trick here, and it is a BIG deal, is to thoroughly and completely butter and flour the bundt or loaf pan. And we mean completely. If you miss a spot, the cake will stick. Take your time and if you see even a tiny open spot, you need to fix it. This won’t take long, but no one likes a cake with chunks missing, even if it is one of the best tasting cakes they have ever had. And we are betting this will be one of the best cakes you’ve ever had. Merry Christmas from all of us here at Putney Farm!ginger8

    gingerGingerbread Cake:

    (Adapted from Gramercy Tavern and Smitten Kitchen)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • You can use a bundt-style pan, a ring pan or use loaf pans for the cake.
    • The cake is better the second day and should keep a few days. It is very good toasted or made into French toast.

    What You Get: Very moist, spicy and funky gingerbread. If you like molasses, you will love this cake.

    What You Need: No special equipment required.

    How Long? About 90 minutes with 30 minutes active time. With planning, an anytime dish.

    Continue reading