For the Love of Baking

Today I will bake. I say that a lot. I mean A LOT! There’s just something about making something by hand and sharing it with the ones you love. It makes my heart smile, and what’s life without taking a “whisk” once in a while?!?  My love of baking started as a child. I remember my Grandma Bernice and Great Aunt Dorothy baking delicious treats for every holiday. There were crispy fried Rosettes and homemade fudge for Christmas, traditional Kolaches for Easter, and delicious pies with crust made from scratch for Thanksgiving. There were no refrigerated, pre-made pie crusts or cookie mix, just add water recipes for this family. I was in awe of the way simple ingredients could work together to make incredibly tasty treats.

Nothing says HOME like the smell of baking.

Celebrating Grandma Bernice’ birthday and Easter with my brother and cousins

The summer of my twelfth year, my beloved grandmother passed away. The family dynamic would never be the same but our love for the holidays and tradition pushed us forward in our new normal. Our house became the home that our extended family would now spend the holidays. Together my mom, dad, brother, and I would meticulously decorate every nook and cranny inside and out and transform our house into a holiday wonderland. Mom and I took on the role of holiday bakers. We started out simple. Our fudge wasn’t completely made from scratch; I remembered my Grandma saying that fudge could be tricky. If you don’t allow the sugar to dissolve completely, you end up with a grainy, soupy mess. Slightly intimidated, I decided to follow the recipe on the back of the marshmallow fluff jar. That first batch of fudge turned out so well, I still follow that same semi-homemade recipe! Our first few years of baking included simple things like sugar cookies, (the ones my brother decorated always resembled something like the Swamp Thing) peanut butter kiss cookies, and seven-layer bars. Over the years our simple, annual holiday baking day morphed into an all-day baking marathon with new recipes (some successful, some not) every year! This is a tradition I carry on with my own daughters to this day!

My mom Carolyn and me, the new bakers of the family!

When I married my husband Mark, I found to my delight that I had married into a family of bakers! Mark’s grandmother Frances took great pride in baking all kinds of culinary treats for her family! We connected over our shared love of baking. It was always a treat to receive a care package of baked goodies from Grandma Toots, a nickname given to Frances by her father. The name seemed to suit her sunny personality. Toots loved her family and was delighted to present visitors with a batch of her latest creation. A family favorite was Toot’s Raisin Spice Cookies. I’ve always been more of a chocolate chip cookie girl, but one bite of Grandma Toot’s special raisin cookies and I was hooked! They are soft and spicy and soooo delicious! I bake them often, hoping to do the recipe justice and have come to refer to them as The BEST cookies you’ll ever eat!

With permission and blessings from her daughter Francy, I share with you Grandma Toots Raisin Spice Cookie recipe! Follow the recipe exactly, don’t over bake, and be sure to sprinkle generously with love and good wishes! Happy Baking! xo

 

Grandma Toots Raisin Spice Cookies aka the best cookies you’ll ever eat!

Ingredients:

4 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I like it a little more spicy so I use 2 tsp)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1 C water with 2 tsp instant coffee mixed in it (1 C cold coffee also works)

2 C raisins

1 C shortening (in a pinch I have used butter, but shortening works best!)

2 C sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 C chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put water with instant coffee granules and raisins in saucepan and boil for about five minutes until raisins are plump and liquid is 1/2 cup. Allow to cool. (Grandma Toots did this the night before she baked the cookies).

Cream shortening and add sugar, blending until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each egg. Add vanilla, nuts, and raisin mixture. Slowly add dry ingredients and blend well.

Drop by small ice cream scoop onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, being sure to keep all cookies similar in size.

Bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake. Cookies should be light in color and soft.

Store tightly covered. Let’s be honest, they’re so delicious you won’t need to store them! Enjoy!

 

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