“Absolutely!” I readily respond. “It is the Christmas season, after all. Everyone bakes at Christmas! Well, almost,” I add, laughing!
There is something about the holidays which begs us to pull out the sugar, flour, cinnamon and other ingredients required for cookies, cakes, pies, fudge, brownies and all other kinds of delicacies! The warm, inviting scents of baking just seem to fill many homes, as preparations are being made for the holidays.
It’s no different in my home, even though I don’t bake nearly as much as I did when my children were young! I have passed that tradition to one of my daughters who takes on the responsibility of baking pies, cookies and other sweets during the holidays, while I focus on the fresh bread, turkey and other fixin’s!
Since cookie baking is such an event in many families, I wondered how the tradition might have started. After some searching, I discovered the baking tradition roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages over in Europe.
When the Dutch and German settlers began making their home here in the New Land, they brought a piece of their heritage, that continues to make an amazing impact on cookie making all over America. They introduced the cookie cutter and decorative molds, replacing the traditional circle or even squares.1 Christmas shapes like bells, Santa Claus, and Christmas trees changed the dynamics of making cookies! Of course, people are going to have their favorites, whether simplistic or very elaborate ones that boast great detail.
While shapes are important to making a cookie special at Christmas, many people use colored frosting to make elaborate designs on baked goods that sometimes make them look more like a piece of art rather than an edible object and almost to good to eat! The decorated delicacies include both the simplistic shapes as well as the elaborate detailed ones.
As I reflect on the tradition of cookie baking in families, I wonder as the family unit continues to break down if we aren't cheating our children of a special time we might have enjoyed when we were children. Even if our family is in tact, often we are so busy with work, extracurricular activities and life events, we rush to the store and buy a bag or box of cookies rather than taking the time to make them.
Even without the "family connection," cookies are still a huge deal. So big, in fact, cookie baking contests have evolved, for the creation of the most original flavored cookie. I’m not a creative cook, by nature. I can follow a recipe and usually can hold my own. But have you ever created your very own cookie recipe? I think that would be a fun thing to do and encourage you to share, if you’ve done this.
So, in the spirit of Christmas, I invite you to share your Christmas cookie recipe on my web page for all of us to try! Be sure to add your name so we can thank you for the success stories of those who tried it out! Post pictures as well, if you have them! Happy baking, everyone!