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the urban baker

the urban baker: December 2008

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Baking Extravaganza

Every year  I bake for the holidays.  And every year, I have my old favorites (triple chocolate dream bars, mexican wedding cookies and jam thumbprints), I have to make these no matter what.  Each year I buy different magazines, thumb through all my cookbooks and search the internet looking for new and interesting  treats. I like  a variety.  I like different shapes, textures and flavors.  Some years I go super crazy, but this year I kept it pretty simple.

7 Layer Bars
My husband loves anything with almond.  These are all the same cookie dough however divided into 3rds.  Between each cookie layer is a layer of apricot preserves.  These are not that hard to make, really pretty and tasty.  Next time, I would temper the chocolate topping (to avoid cracking).

I usually make my doughs in advance (before Thanksgiving).  This is how I stay organized.

Chocolate Crinkles
These are from an out of print Marlene Sorosky cookbook.

Mexican Wedding Cookies. 
 Rose Levy Birnbaum, Christmas Cookie Book
I have made a lot of different recipes for this particular cookie.  These are, hands down, the best.

Chocolate hazelnut shortbread
I bought a 2008 edition of "The best of fine cooking, cookies" at the newstand.  These jumped out at me.  Eli and I tempered chocolate and dipped half of the cookies in the chocolate.  Isaac sprinkled the non parils on the cookies.  We took photos of us tempering,  dipping and sprinkling.  Neglected to put the card reader back in the camera!   

Coconut Shortbread.  These are from an old Martha Stewart cookie magazine.  I am pretty sure they are on her website

These are the best Jam Thumbprints ever!  This recipe is a combo from an old Martha Stewart Magazine, Rose Levy Birnbaum and  I like to roll half the cookies in shredded coconut (shown) and ground almonds.  I make a vanilla sugar and combine it with the almonds and it makes the cookies really crunchy and really good.  I use both rasberry preserves and apricot preserves.  MMM good!

Cinnamon, walnut shortbread (see dec. 6th blog entry)

This is the same sugar cookie recipe as the Christmas cookies below.  I buy all my baking supplies (jimmies, sugars, nuts, chocolate, etc.) at Surfas in Culver City (

I have tried a lot of carmel popcorn recipes (in honor of my dad-he and I used to eat a whole can of "poppycock" in one sitting-mind you, I was 10 and could do that back then).  This recipe rocks! (make a triple batch)

the best butter/sugar cookie ever!
The Christmas Cookie Book, Rose Levy Birnbaum

somehow it makes everything taste better

line 'em up

labels and ribbons
(made the labels in illustrator, ribbon from

Small box of treats 

The large box of goodies

I still have a lot of little accessories left over from my furniture business (Little Folk Art).  I like to use them for my baked stuff.  Not only do my friends get the fattening stuff, they get an extra added bonus!
Triple chocolate dream bars(make a triple batch)

Lots and lots of bags of star cookies

Carmel Corn
packaged and ready to go

Cakes, Scones, Cakes

Just a few things I made for Levi's birthday party brunch. 

Yogurt lemon cake
(Ina Garten)

Buttermilk blueberry scones

Cranberry, Vanilla Coffee Cake
Gourmet Magazine (nov 08)
This cake is so awesome

The Menu
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
Nancy's baked eggs
Lox, bagels, Cream Cheese (the standard)
Puff Pastry w/gruyere & black forest ham
Lemon cake
Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
Blueberry scones
Blackberry Mimosa's
Virgin Cranberry Belini's


It wasn't until the actual day (12/13) of Levi's party that he got it.  When the Dora bounce house arrived, he realized that this day was all about him.  He was totally overwhelmed, but seriously into it.  

It was a small party.  All the important people in his life.  His brothers, his grandparents, his cousins and a few friends (our neighbors).  It was small, intimate and the perfect way for Levi to spend becoming one year older.
It doesn't get much better than a Krispy Kreme donut cake!
The day was all about the DONUTS!

December 15, 2008

Such concentration and determination.  "3" takes a lot of dexterity and coordination!

Sharing mini ice cream cones with all his pals at pre-school!

It was a terrific day.  It was rainy and cozy and the perfect day to become one year older.  I love you, Levi!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Mitch has been obsessed with Bend, Oregon for two years.  I was sick of hearing Bend this, Bend that so I suggested we check it out.  We choose Thanksgiving week to hit the road!  Our Journey begins in Sacramento...

Visting the Capitol.  The boys were into it!

Yeah, there is a town called "weed".  We were tempted to buy the "I love Weed" shirts.  But we didn't.

Levi's first snow experience.  He loved it.

I know, I see the grey in my hair as well.  We got back into town and I made sure that was the first thing I took care.  
Stopping in San Francisco on the way home for one reason only; to eat at TARTINE bakery.  Probably the best bakery in the U.S.  When visiting S.F., Tartine is a must.  If I could, I would eat there breakfast, lunch and dinner.
waiting patiently for it to open

enjoying pastries and hot chocolates

There is nothing better than starting your day with a hot chocolate and a chocolate croissant!


Before Thanksgiving, I needed to bake(cuz I had nothing else to do!).  I was visiting a friend (couldn't go empty handed) so it was the perfect excuse.

Made the chocolate chip biscotti from Maida Heatter's Brand New Book of Great Cookies.  What I really wanted to make were her milk chocolate biscotti's(my favorite).  But when I realized that I had turned to the wrong page, the ingredients were already measured out and it was too late.  Lots of friends benefited from my mistake!

The lemon zest and the anise seeds make this recipe.

These are delicious.  They are the cranberry, pistachio biscotti from

One of the best shortbreads I have ever made.  They are a brown sugar, walnut shortbread from  Yum Yum!

Holiday baking to come!