Sunday, October 21, 2007
That time of year.
I love fall, pretty much everything about it. The chill in the air, the smells, the bright, clear skies, the colors. Of course, it's also the worst time of year for my allergies. I guess you can't win 'em all. But for some reason, the moment there's a chill in the air, I get the urge to bake, specifically, cookies. I'm sure it stems from the tradition of making Christmas cookies in our family, but we never did that until December. But for me, once it's chilly in the evenings and it starts to get dark earlier, I just want to bake cookies. The spicy smell, the warmth from the oven, it's so comforting (also, unfortunately, fattening.) My favorites though, I do save for Christmas time. The honey cakes (lebkuchen for you German speakers), anise cakes (a.k.a., cement blocks or springerle) Kris Kringles, peppermint balls, bourbon balls, cinnamon almond bars, and I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but I'm already drooling thinking about them all. Oddly, we almost never decorated sugar cookies at our house when I was a kid. I do remember a few time, usually for a class party or something at school, but that was unusual.
The honey cakes are the ones I have the best memories of. You have to start them two weeks ahead of time to make the dough and then let them rise, very, very slowly, since there is no yeast, in a cool place for those two weeks. My mother even has a special honey cake pot that I don't think get used for anything else during the year. In fact, she just got me my own honey cake pot, though I will probably use it for soups and such also. Then, when they bake, the spices and honey getting all warm in the oven, oooohhh yeah!
Apparently, though, they are an aquired taste. When my husband said, "yeah, they're ok," the first time I made them, I about fell over in shock. "What? You mean they're not the best cookie ever?!" Well, ok, maybe you have to have the Swiss German genes that come from my family.
What are your favorite cookies? Make a few and save me some. Happy baking!