Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:

Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan or spray with a baking spray with flour. Heat oven to 325°.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat on low speed of electric mixer until ingredients are combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and increase mixer speed to medium; beat for about 3 minutes longer. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cut into squares and serve with freshly whipped cream or even better, lemon sauce. To serve leftover gingerbread, warm slightly in the microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds.

This gingerbread freezes well: cut into squares and wrap individually. Thaw and warm in the microwave just before serving.

Sweet Potato Pie

What we like and don’t like is greatly influence by what we experienced growing up. When I tell people I make a sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving, they often ask, “What about pumpkin?” I never have liked pumpkin pie. Every time I eat it, I wish it was sweet potato. Once folks accept that answer, the next question they ask is, “Don’t you put any spices in your sweet potato pie? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Allspice?” Nope. Just eggs, butter, and sugar.

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Preheat oven to 350°.

Crust

(Do not bake crust.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shortening into the flour by crisscrossing 2 knives until it’s the size of small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork until dough holds together. Form into a ball, handling the dough as little as possible. Do not knead the dough.

Prepare surface with flour and flour your rolling pin. Roll one ball of dough into the size of the pie pan, being sure to turn the dough over and reflour the surface at least once, and leaving enough dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out over the pie pan. Pierce the crust with a fork. Roll dough along edges of pan and crimp with a four or your fingers and thumb.

Filling

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (2 cups, cooked)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo Syrup
  • 3 beaten eggs

Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain. Combine butter, sugar, and Karo Syrup with the potatoes while they are still hot. I put it all in my stand mixer bowl. Mix until smooth. Gradually add the mixture to the eggs, increasing the temperature of the eggs so you don’t cook them. Add the eggs to the mixture.

Pour the filling into the pastry shell and bake at 350° at least 40 minutes or longer. To be sure it’s done, you can check the center of the pie with a toothpick or a knife. You don’t want the filling to stick to the knife.

You can serve topped with whipping cream, but it really doesn’t need it.

Pineapple Pie

My dad invented this pie and it’s our family’s favorite. We have it every Thanksgiving. I remember Dad and I making two dozen of these to sell at a church Christmas bizarre. I think we sold them for $8 a piece.

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Preheat oven to 425°

Filing

  • 20 oz can cubed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar with a spoon. Dump in the can of pineapple (do not drain). Lightly break up the pineapple chunks using your hands. Mix well.

Crust

  • 2 cups all purpose or unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup and 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold water

Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using two table knives, cut the shortening into the flour until the globs of shortening are about the size of a pea. Add two tablesoons of cold water and mix it into half of the dough using a fork. Mix the other half of the dough with 2 more tablespoons of water. Continue mixing the water into the dough with your fingers, gently breaking up the bigger pieces. Only add the fifth tablespoon of water if the dough is too dry. The goal here is to handle the dough as little as possible. Do not knead the dough. Divide the dough into two equal sections and press each seciton into a ball.

Prepare surface with flour and flour your rolling pin. Roll one ball of dough into the size of the pie pan, being sure to turn the dough over and reflour the surface at least once, and leaving enough dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out over the pie pan. Pierce the crust with a fork.

Roll out the second ball of dough.

Assembly and Baking

Mix the filling once more, being sure to mix up all the sugar that has settled to the bottom of the bowl. Pour it in to the pie pan and dot with butter. Place the top layer of crust over the pan. Cut the excess crust away from the pan with a knife, leaving about 1/4 inch extra all around. Fold the edge of the crust under and seal them by either pinching the crust all the way around or pressing a fork into the edge. Pierce the top with a fork.

Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. You may need to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil after about 30 minutes. Let cool for at least two hours.

Thanksgiving Menu and Assignments

Thanksgiving Turkey

I have a snapshot in my head of the menu for Thanksgiving. It comes from what I remember eating growing up. I tend to be a little (okay, a lot) obsessed about the items on this menu. Over the years, family members and guests have offered to bring additional dishes and I’ve been known to respond, “You’re welcome to bring that, but no one will eat it.” Of course, I’m joking. Mostly.

Four changes have been introduced to this menu in at least twenty years: the first is the addition of deviled eggs; second, the addition of Mike jalapeño poppers; third, the deletion of pickled peaches (they’re hard to find and I was the only one eating them; fourth, the deletion of mince meat pie (this actually never was on the modern menu. Dad used to make it and it was gross.)

If you read this blog often, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that normally I clean the house and Frank does the cooking. Thanksgiving is the one meal where he lets me have full control. We’ve already gotten the stuffing versus dressing fight out of the way (early this year!), so I anticipate smooth sailing from now until the big day. One thing that helps is that I’m taking vacation from work all week this year. I’m excited!

I’m going to update this post with links to recipes and pictures from the day. So check back throughout the week!

Thanksgiving
Meal is at Noon on Thanksgiving day. Prepare for 12-14.

Menu:
  • Deviled Eggs–Carolyn
  • Turkey–Doug
  • Dressing–Doug
  • Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows–Sissy
  • Mashed Potatoes–Doug
  • Lima Beans with Sour Cream and Shredded Cheddar Cheese–Mike
  • Angel Biscuits–Ann
  • Gravy–Frank
  • Cranberry Sauce–Doug
  • Sweet Potato Pie–Doug
  • Chocolate Pie–Doug
  • Pineapple Pie–Doug
  • Iced Tea–Katie
  • Coffee–Doug
Incidentals:
  • Clean House–Sam, Ben, Ruth
  • Table Arrangement, Tablecloths, Napkins, Turkey Carving–Frank
  • Table Setting–Frank, Ruth
  • Thanksgiving Hands*–Sissy, Sam, Ben
  • Thanksgiving Pumpkin*–Sissy
  • Clean up–Doug, Sam, Ben, Ruth
*For decorative centerpiece (more to come!)