Since Zacky and I will have a family-packed Christmas (which we love of course), we swapped our gifts to each other tonight. He got me the domino Book of Decorating which I have had my eye on for quite some time, and oh! A diamond and ruby necklace! It’s very old-fashioned, which of course is perfect for me. Such a sweet boy! I love them, Zack, and I love you! Merry Christmas!
Here’s another post in my flurry of holiday blogging. So much fun stuff this year that I just can’t keep it to myself, Blogland. I have shared with you retro Christmas chic and in the coming days you will see Christmas gifts I’ve made and received, recipes, home dec, and the like. You might have noticed that I changed the banner up there. I’m now a domestic arts blog rather than just baking and fashion, as I do love all aspects of homemaking and being a happy housewife! Baked in Birmingham is such a cheeky name, I just couldn’t bare to change it. If only it wasn’t socially odd to wear a big froofy dress, pearls, and a matching apron everyday….
Anyway! Zack’s fam has a big Christmas brunch every year, and I always look forward to it. His family is so much fun, and they crack me up! I love his Aunt Mert because she’s one of the loveliest hostesses I’ve ever had and is a true Southern lady. Last year I baked some killer mini cinnamon rolls, and this year I’m carrying on the cinnamon love with these cinnamon smear scones from King Arthur Flour. They are delicious and deceptively easy to make considering the results.
*note: I do think that 3 cups of flour is a little much. Try using just 2 1/2, and undoubtedly you will use the remaining 1/2 cup while you’re kneading. I also made 30 small scones and baked for 7 minutes in the oven and let them finish baking on the cookie sheet (instead of 15 at 12 minutes). One more thing, the cinnamon/sugar sprinkle on top needs to be swept off the sheet as much as possible with a pastry brush before they go in the oven. The sugar will caramelize while baking, and that’s no fun for anybody.
Cinnamon Smear Scones; courtesy of King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten slightly
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup evaporated milk or half and half
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
Cinnamon Smear: Place the butterscotch chips, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is rough and pasty looking (you can also do this in a blender). Set the mixture aside.
Topping: In a small bowl, whisk the egg white till it’s lost its cohesion, but hasn’t yet become frothy. In another bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Dough: Wipe out the work bowl of your processor with a paper towel, then place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Process to blend. Add the butter in chunks, and process to break or cut the butter in, forming a mealy, crumbly mixture. Place this mixture in a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, you can use an electric mixer (or your hands, a whisk, and pastry fork or pastry blender) to combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter.
In a small bowl or cup, blend together the egg, vanilla and evaporated milk (or half and half). Add this to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together. Turn the crumbly mass out onto a floured work surface and knead it gently, pressing the cinnamon smear mixture into the dough. It’ll look marbleized; this is fine.
Roll or pat the dough into a 10 x 6-inch rectangle, about 1-inch thick, or 10-inch circle. Cut the dough into 12 to 14 squares or wedges. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet, brush each with the egg white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake the scones about 12 to 15 minutes, or until their bottoms are browned and the tops are lightly golden. Yield: 12 to 14 scones.
Nutrition information per serving (1 cinnamon smear scone, from a batch of 15, made with the extra egg yolk and evaporated milk, 81g): 279 cal, 12.1g fat, 5g protein, 20g complex carbohydrates, 17g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 66mg cholesterol, 191mg sodium, 121mg potassium, 103RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 161mg calcium, 91mg phosphorus.
Country Home magazine has a story in this month’s issue about these little collectibles call Putz houses. They are made of cardboard, so they are extremely fragile, and were originally sold in five-and-dime stores in the middle of the century for a few cents each, and are just so charming I couldn’t resist them! Apparently I’m lucky to find one with the tree still in tact–since they’re so delicate, many of the little intricacies don’t last. Score! I mean, they’re miniature, retro, and Christmas themed. What more do I require? I found these at the Trussville Antique Mall for about $8 each. Yay!
Today was a fantastic day. If you know anything about me, you know I have a heart for all things kitschy, retro, and/or vintage. Today I was out propping at an antique store, and I scored an authentic 1960s aluminum Christmas tree, complete with original box + instructions. TWENTY BUCKS! I can’t wait to fill it with retro baubles, and one day it will be the baby’s tree! How cute will it be in Baby Nichols’ nursery with all pink or all blue ornaments? Oh mid-century mod, I love you.
P.S. Just did a test-run of this year’s Christmas cookie: Martha’s spiced cardamom cookies from the cover of her December issue. Can’t wait to share them with you!
I read marthastewart.com literally every single day. So imagine my excitement when I see that you can upload pictures of your own Christmas creations to her site to be judged for a trip to NYC to see her show. I have minimal expectations of winning, but in all honesty, other people have uploaded some tacky crap. Here’s what I submitted, my fireplace, all bedecked in homespun splendor. It is accompanied by the caption that I so thoughtfully wrote to explain myself for my entry. Also, here is a link to it; if you have an account on Martha’s page, you can rate it.
Magnolias and Burlap
As a serious and life-long crafter, I feel like a sell-out if I don’t make my own Christmas decor! I made the garland out of magnolia leaves & made the stockings out of inexpensive burlap & assembled them with a few simple blanket stitches. The handcrafted reindeer serves his purpose well as a gift holder (the gift bow is an old t-shirt that I cut, stretched, and tied). The prints above are antique French letterheads that I scored on etsy.com. Modern panache with a traditional feel–on a budget!