7th Day of Christmas
“On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Seven Swans of Swimming…”
Ok, apparently swans are symbolic of seven gifts – like wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude – changing us from ugly ducklings into graceful adults. Admittedly, I was a shy duckling (certainly not ugly) and a quiet observer, but somewhere along the way I found my voice. I credit this transformation to the wonderful people in my life who continue to offer me a host of gracious gifts.
In return, I thought it fitting this holiday season to share my Seventh Day of Christmas baking recipes, honoring both new traditions and those of generations passed.
Four years ago, my mother-in-law, Marilyn, and I decided to set aside a holiday baking day – a morning to night sugar, flour and butter fest!
This year, our twist on the tradition incorporates recipes from my family lineage – Bermudian and Italian – with the Smith’s Swiss family recipes. This year’s stock includes seven yummy creations: Bermuda rum cakes, Swiss Pretzelis, Italian spice cookies, ginger creams, sugar cookies, peppermint bark and Choco-Nut Bark. I’ve included all these recipes in the Recipe section, and below are the first two.
First up, Bermuda rum cake. My dad was born in Bermuda and has lived there all his life. I grew up visiting my dad and stepmom during the summer months, but have only spent a few Christmases there. Making Bermuda rum cake is a simple way to bring a bit of the island into my holidays.
When making this recipe, I only use Goslings’ Bermuda dark rum (found at BevMo), however, you can use other dark rums or even other liqueurs like Kahluha instead, but I can’t vouch for those. The first year we made Bermuda rum cakes, let’s just say that there was a little bit of rum drinking going on, which made it tough to follow the recipe! Yes, we’ve learned our lesson…well, sort of!
Bermuda Rum Cake
1 10” bundt cake pan or 8 mini bundt cake pans
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 box chocolate cake mix*
1 3.75 ounce box chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup dark rum (80 proof)
* you can use yellow cake and vanilla instant pudding instead for a less rich flavor
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum
To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour pan(s). Lightly sprinkle nuts in the bottom of the pan(s). In a separate bowl, mix together all cake ingredients. Pour batter over nuts. Sprinkle remaining nuts on top of batter. Bake 1 hour (check at 45-50 minutes). Remove from oven and cool. Invert on a cookie sheet. Using a fork, poke holes in the rim of the cake and gently pry open the holes – this will allow the glaze to soak in.
For the glaze, melt butter in a small-medium sized sauce pan, then stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Using a pastry brush, spread glaze on sides and top of cake – don’t be afraid to use a lot of glaze. With a spoon, pour glaze into the holes on the top of the cake. Cover cakes and allow to sit for a day or more to soak up the rummy goodness.
To serve, fill the top of the cake with whipped cream and serve! Tip: the mini cakes are easy to pop in the microwave before adding the whipped cream and serving.
Up next we next tackle the Swiss Pretzelis (pronounced pretzel-lees). My mother-in-law uses a Pretzeli baker that her mom brought over from Switzerland around 1945 when my mother-in-law was 8-years-old. It has made Pretzelis nearly every year since and is the only baker left in the family. Though it’s having trouble baking evenly, the cookies it produces can’t be beat, each one is unique in shape and design.
There are new Pretzeli bakers on the market today but under a different name – Pizzelles – but the same concept. Old and new bakers work much like waffle makers, making two to four cookies at a time. The cooling process my mother-in-law uses, by placing each cookie on a rolling pin, gives a curved taco-like design that makes them easy to stack. I’ve read you can serve them flat with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top or roll them more tightly into a cylinder. Either way, the cookies must be hot during rolling and held in shape until cool.
1 pound butter
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1/4 tsp lemon peel (can also use anise or almond extract)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
Flour (for amount, read below)
Blend ingredients together, adding one at a time. Add flour until dough mixture becomes stiff (approximately 3 cups). Refrigerate mixture overnight. Drop one teaspoon of batter onto center of each cookie section. Close lid and allow to cook 45 seconds to 1 minute and 15 seconds or until lightly brown. Use knife to split cookies apart, then remover from baker with a spatula. Allow to cool. Makes 3-4 dozen.
With seven recipes to juggle, this year’s activity spilled into two full days of baking. Our feet were tired and our hands ached, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time together baking goodies for our friends and family to enjoy. We’re already looking forward to next year!