Shhh … Holiday Baking Secrets from The Village
We love the holidays at The Village, and one of our favorite parts of the season is whipping up a buffet of baked goods … a panoply of pies… a mouthwatering medley … a smorgasbord of sweets!
Because food is at the center of our lives, we have designed our dining options with resident needs in mind. All of our Independent Living cottages and apartments offer full kitchens with modern appliances—everything you need to spend the afternoon baking treats for your family. Meanwhile, open-concept floor plans are perfect for entertaining neighbors for dinner, a happy hour or a full-blown holiday party.
Meanwhile, our campus restaurant, The Back Porch &Grille, is the perfect place to host your next gathering. From date nights to holiday catering, this is the spot for holiday feasts, cheery conversations and some special menus of hams, casseroles, pies and more.
Try a Few Tips & Tricks
For the bakers and cooks among us, we are excited to share a few secret tips and tricks to make the most of this scrumptious season! If you try any of these, let us know on our Facebook page—or send us your own holiday favorites. Bon appetit!
- For cookies, cakes and other baked goods, let your eggs and butter come to room temperature before mixing. Not only will the butter be creamier, but it will all mix more evenly.
- Try a pinch of espresso powder or instant coffee to make your chocolate treats richer and more flavorful.
- Use cocoa powder instead of flour to dust pans when making chocolate cakes.
- When baking a layered cake in advance, brush on a light layer of simple syrup (sugar + water) on top of each layer to keep it moist.
- Freeze your cake layers briefly before frosting with a thin “crumb layer.” Freeze again for a few minutes for smoother, easier frosting.
- To keep your whipped cream shapely, place the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before whipping. Remember: Cold is cool!
- Chocolate curls as a garnish scream “wow!” Make them in advance but keep them refrigerated to hold their shapes. Add them to your dessert just before serving.
- Fancy up your presentations by melting candy to adorn your cake stand. Try melting peppermints for Christmas desserts. Place the candies on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and heat at 350 for5-8 minutes. Let cool before transferring.
- To get perfect squares out of a tray of brownies, make sure they are completely cool before cutting and use a chef’s knife to cut. Coat the blade in cooking spray and wipe clean after each use.Press the blade in firmly and drag it back in a single motion.
- Evaporated milk is an ideal heavy cream substitute in recipes using heavy cream as a liquid. It doesn’t whip as well, but it’s a great way to add moisture. Use an equal amount of evaporated milk as you would heavy cream.
- If you need a buttermilk substitute, try whisking together three parts plain Greek yogurt plus one part water or skim milk.
- For airier biscuits, swap ½ cup cold shortening for ½ cup butter. Shortening makes softer, more tender biscuits.
- Add a ¼ cup vodka and ¼ cup water to your pie crust dough and fold it in. The vodka will make a flakier crust because it does not develop into gluten. And yes, the alcohol will burn off in baking so it will be safe for little ones.
- What about your main course? Fried turkey is moist and delicious. If this is your year to try out a holiday favorite, be sure to do it outside and away from your house. A couple hours tending the fryer will make you feel like a home hero—especially when you slice into the bird.
- Butternut squash is an amazing harvest treat when roasted. Cut the squash into cubes, mix it with some sliced bell pepper and diced shallot, and spread it on a tray. Add salt and pepper, drizzle it with olive oil, and bake at 400 for 30 minutes or so. Broil at the end for added color.
- Consider making a healthier, creamy mac ‘n’cheese by using less cheese and adding some pureed and cooked butternut squash.
- To add a little flair to your holiday dinner table, you probably know about peppercorn grinders. This year, pick up a grinder for pink Himalayan sea salt to make your guests say, “Ohh.”
- If you enjoy spices, try adding some Aleppo pepper to your repertoire. More nuanced than basic red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper is an excellent rub for marinating meat, and it can add dimension to pizza, rice and even eggs.
Do you have a favorite recipe?
Find The Village on Facebook, like our page and send us a message. We’re always excited to learn new ways to liven up our favorite treats! If you would like to learn more about The Village, join us for a tour or a meal at The Back Porch & Grille. Contact us today to get started.