Christmas Eve Baking Adventure

Christmas Eve this year marked my first adventure into vegan baking. For a few weeks prior, I had gone through multiple cookbooks and online recipes in search of ideas of what I might bake for the family. After several possibilities, I decided upon a Cinnamon Coffee Cake and Fudge Brownies.

Once I got home from work on Christmas Eve, I began to get my ingredients and cooking tools and such in order and ready to go. The cinnamon coffee cake would be made first, as this was the most important baked good of the two. You see, my family has a tradition of having a birthday cake for baby Jesus every Christmas. In the past, my mom had always baked something, or in busier years, picked up a cake from the local bakery for the occasion. 2009 not only marked my first year vegan baking, but my first year actually baking the cake solo. I was excited about doing it, and rearing to go.

In all honesty, I’m not a very experienced cook or baker. I am slowly but surely working on improving this, but still very new to it all. Now that I am a vegan, cooking is starting to become more of a regular part of my life, as it is much easier (and more affordable, not to mention healthier) to make your own meals. That all said, I knew it would take me longer than most to get things put together and into the oven to bake. So, I took this into account when I embarked upon the baking task.

Once I got everything out and ready to prepare, I think I surprised myself at how easy it all started to come together. The cinnamon coffee cake I was making was a recipe from Compassionate Cook’s Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook. I have really enjoyed her podcast and had been anxious to make something out of her baking book for awhile. The Cinnamon Coffee Cake won me over, as I am a huge fan of anything cinnamon as is the rest of the family (not so sure they love it as much as I do, but they do love cinnamon). In no time, I had the batter made and was whisking it together. The recipe has two parts, the batter itself for the cake and the crumbly cinnamon topping. The topping I admit took me longer than the cake batter did. I ended up making up two batches of it, as it didn’t seem to cover the cake like it should. Not sure if that was my fault or if it had to do with that I had to use a larger pan… either way, once I got enough topping made, I put it atop the cake batter and into the oven. Admittedly, I feared what the pre-baked cake looked like. Made me wonder if I really messed up and did something more wrong than simply the topping.

Trying not to worry too much about the coffee cake, I let it bake and moved on to the brownies. These proved to be much easier to make. I got the batter for these together and mixed in no time. This brownie recipe was one that utilized a banana, semi-sweet chocolate chips (which are very bad to have around, as munching upon them tends to occur while baking and then even later on… 🙂 ) and cocoa powder. Once I had everything mixed up, I poured the mixture into a pan and put it in the oven as I removed the coffee cake. To my great surprise, the finished coffee cake looked good! I was pleased that it didn’t appear to be the disaster I feared it was when I had put it into the oven to bake. Of course, the true test would be Christmas morning, but in the meanwhile, I felt better about my baking of it seeing the finished product.

Once the brownies were finished baking about twenty minutes later, my evening of “slaving” over a hot oven was over. I did the remainder of the dishes and clean up of the kitchen and went to bed looking forward to the taste test of the foods the next day.

Christmas morning came and I gathered with the family with my cinnamon coffee cake and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. A few minutes later, everyone took a piece of cake and I awaited the verdict of the tasters. I was happy to hear everyone eating away and offering up compliments on the cake. They loved it. This was the best thing I could have hoped for. I was relieved and grateful for the kind words. Later, after Christmas dinner had been eaten, the brownies were presented. They too were enjoyed by everyone.

My Christmas baking adventure ending up being a great success and I already look forward to baking for upcoming birthdays in 2010. And, I know my baking will only get better and easier in the future the more I do it.

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