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Winter Citrus Cake

It’s been so gloomy in Door County this winter. Instead of a fresh cover of white snow we’ve had rain, fog and grey skies almost every day, not to  mention the ice that made getting out of the house without injury an olympic feat worthy of a gold medal. Color comes from the bluejays, cardinals and woodpeckers at the bird feeder, the red squirrels stuffing their cheeks with peanuts and the gold stalks of grasses swaying against the somber sky. Times like this require a Pajama Day. Stay at home all day in your pajamas, get a good book or a Nextflix marathon…but first….bake a cake.  This citrusy, moist, delicious cake just may fill your heart, and definitely your tummy, with sunshine. I was reading a blogging magazine and came across some beautiful, simple, clean images of food by “Mitzy”. Luckily her blog spot was referenced at the end of the article so I tightened my bathrobe around me and trotted off to the computer to look her up. What an inspiring experience that turned out to be. Forget the grey skies, it was sunshine on my screen.  Mitzy, whose real name is Alice, don’t ask, has dozens of recipes on her blog as well as pinterest.  This cake definitely called to me and before long I was whisking, grating and mixing it up, tossing it in the oven, glazing the cake with a simple lemon syrup as it cooled and then  adding a nice lemony glaze over the whole thing. Yum, yum, yum. It tastes even better than it looks. Four eggs and yogurt are the secret ingredients and only a little oil to hold it all together. It’s super easy to make. Next time I’m going to make it in the Almond Cake pan.

Pajama Day turned out to be restorative and delicious!

Tomorrow will be Exercise Day!

Go to http://www.mitzyathome.com/ for the recipe, gorgeous photos and lots of inspiration. Enjoy. I’ll be serving this cake in the shop!

Breakfast with Pipka

Good Morning! They say if you eat a good breakfast you’re set for the day. It’s difficult for me to eat A LOT for breakfast, but I do try to make what I DO eat taste and look delicious.  Start with a cup of fresh hot coffee (or, in my case, coffee substitute)…then pile rich frothy hot milk on top (made with my Nepresso Frother), pour into a giant cup and sprinkle with cinnamon. Eat it with a spoon, it’s so good. I like to take it into the sun room and sip and spoon while watching the birds outside my window having THEIR breakfast. It’s a sweet, quiet way to start the day, rather meditative.

Later in the morning it’s time for a more substantial breakfast.

Fresh fruit salad is always a favorite and the natural sugar in the fruit keeps blood levels from spiking and making me crazy. Cut up various fruits into bite size pieces and place in a bowl, drizzle lemon juice on top, add a touch of brown sugar and, if desired, raisins, and mix gently. The flavors will meld after a few minutes and the lemon keeps the fruit from turning brown. Spoon onto a pretty dish,”pretty” is key here,  add a dollop of Greek style unsweetened yogurt (most fruit flavored yogurts are LOADED with sugar) and sprinkle more cinnamon on top.  This will tide you over until lunch.

Let me know if you like this. It’s low calorie, filling and looks good enough to eat! Happy Breakfast!

Love, Pipka

The 1st Day of Christmas

It’s now the last of our 12 days of Christmas campaign so for the 1st Day of Christmas I’ve chosen this beautiful, kind faced OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS! Isn’t his face just gorgeous, all rosy cheeked and handsome? This is my own Santa, number 1 out of 4500 and I’m offering it to  you on this 1st Day of Christmas. I’m paring down my personal collection because, after 22 years, I’ve come to realize I can’t possible keep everything I’ve ever designed. My children  and family will get some and I will keep a few choice pieces, the rest will be sold. It’s difficult for me to let go of Old Father Christmas. Not only is his face so dear and his wooly coat and rich gold embroidered dress is so lovely, but he truly is a one of my most elegant Santas.

 

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OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS

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He holds a staff to help him on his way, his pockets are filled with apples, and gingerbread cookies and the basket weave sack on his back is filled with toys; a doll, an elephant, a  monkey, a circus tent , ship, a book, blocks and bells .  Santa stands next to the very last of our incredible trees! This intricately carved snow covered tree is 15″ tall, the perfect height next to this Memories of Christmas Santa.

The Old Father Christmas was introduced in 2000 and retired in 2001. $750.

The Large Evergreen Tree was also introduced in 2000. It is retired. $150.

Please call us (920.854.4392) or email us at: pipkasofdoorcounty@www.pipkas.com.

Wishing you a very happy 1st Day of Christmas. Only 12 more days until Christmas Eve!

Love and Blessings!

The 3rd DAY OF CHRISTMAS

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APPLE STRUDEL

TODAY  I have a special surprise for those of you who love to bake, serve and gift our Almond Cake. My Czechoslovakian grand-mother, Magdalena Fuzek, always made Apple Strudel (see photo above) on special holidays.  She even showed me how to make it, stretching the dough so thinly on the table that we could read the newspaper underneath it. Then she filled the dough, that was about 36″ wide, with apples, raisins, sugar and breadcrumbs. Watching her roll up the strudel was like watching an artist at work. Needless to say, I did not master this ancient technique. HOWEVER, I’ve become somewhat of an expert at the Almond Cake that I  make and share with you. Since my artistic nature likes to altar and change things I keep adding ingredients to the original Almond Cake recipe. At this time of year, I’m thinking CHRISTMAS. I shared a STOLLEN recipe with you on my facebook page (pipkas of door county) earlier this week, and now I’d like to share this APPLE STRUDEL ALMOND CAKE recipe with you, a cake that is perfect for Christmas morning. It’s super easy and very delicious. Perhaps it will become part of your family Christmas morning tradition.

CHRISTMAS MORNING APPLE STRUDEL ALMOND CAKE

Prepare the Basic Recipe batter.

In a separate bowl:

Soak 1/3 cup raisins in 2 TBL brandy for 15 minutes. Drain.

Peel and core 1 apple. Slice into very small pieces.

Combine ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, lemon zest from ½ lemon

1 TBL lemon juice, 1 TBL flour.

Toss the apples and raisins into the brown sugar mixture to coat.

Add apple/raisin mixture to batter. Pour into cake pan.

Sprinkle top of cake with raw sugar and almond slices.

Bake @ 350 for 40-44 minutes, until top is golden brown and toothpick

comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes. Tap cake on counter to loosen. Invert onto cooling rack.

Let cool. Serve with whipped cream.

Freezing this cake is not recommended.

HAPPY BAKING, HAPPY GIVING!

 

THE 4TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

Today I’d like to share 4 new Santas with you, our Santas of America collection. These four Santas represent the different areas of the United States.  There’s a Seashore Santa, Southwest Santa, Northwoods Santa and the Patriotic Santa.  All are exquisitely detailed Santas designed with history and stories behind them.  They make a perfect Christmas gift especially for people who say they are “running out of room” as they are only 5 inches high.

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The Patriotic Santa is all about our glorious country. No matter what our political issues, we come together as a nation, diverse, strong, devoted to the concepts of our founding fathers.

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The Southwest Santa reminds of the rich history of the Southwest. Modern day Hopi and Zuni tribes trace their ancestry back to the Pueblo Indians who settled the Southwest around 9000 BC. Today, ranchers and cowboys work side-by-side with Indians who still practice basket weaving and jewelry making using techniques passed down from their ancestors. We as Americans can be so proud of the heritage the Southwest brings us.

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The Northwoods Santa

The northern part of our United States if filled with ancient woods,  deer, moose, rabbits, wolves and birds of all sorts. Campers, hikers and nature lovers from all over our country come to the Northwoods to experience the beauty of its pristine lakes and streams. Our goal is to preserve these areas for our children and grand-children so they too can enjoy the natural wonders of the Northwoods.

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The Seashore Santa

Who doesn’t enjoy the sunshine, beach and  sand that are along the shores of this great country. We are inexplicably drawn to water. Children love to build sand castles, gather rocks and dip their toes into incoming waves. Although we associate Christmas with snow, Santa does visit children all over the world living on islands and seashores. Christmas is Christmas everywhere!

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 “Gramma, can I just stick my toe in?”. Well, you can see how long that lasted. Lake Michigan’s freezing water didn’t deter her one bit!

THE 6TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

YESTERDAY, DECEMBER 6TH, was the feast day of St. Nicholas, the saint whose goodness and charitable works inspired the story of Santa Claus. I hope all little children received a nice surprise in their shoes from St. Nicholas when they awoke in the morning.  St. Nicholas Day really keeps the wonder and anticipation of Christmas alive in children’s minds and adds to their excitement as Christmas approaches.

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SANTA AND THE CHRIST CHILD

In many European countries,  children receive their Christmas presents from the Christ Child. An angel may accompany the little Babe and it’s not unusual to find an angel feather by the tree. However, as the world gets smaller, and much to my disappointment, more and more countries are adapting the customs of the  American  Santa Claus bringing  the gifts. I love the old customs and am saddened to see traditions become so homogenized.  However, I wanted to compromise in my design of SANTA AND THE CHRIST CHILD so I made the ” Santa Claus” a little old fashioned with his long coat and slender build. In this instance, Santa is giving a gift to the Christ Child, thereby bringing the true meaning of Christmas into the design. The little Babe reaches his arms up, not just to receive the Teddy Bear, but to receive the gift of Christmas celebration from every culture and country. Santa and the Christ Child reminds me of the harmony and peace that is Christmas.

May this Christmas season , and the Christ Child, bring you peace and joy.

 

 

The 7th Day of Christmas

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SPRINGERLE SANTA

Seven PIPKA Santa Prints for the 7th Day of Christmas. You can see all seven prints at Pipkas.com

People often ask how the Santa design process begins. It might take me  several months to a year  to decide on a design inspired by a story or memories and research. I refer to this time as the incubation period. Once I sit down to sketch, however, things just seem to flow easily and I’m in Santa world. My prints are the images from the original art I send to the sculptor. The originals are large paintings that can take 2 to 4 weeks to complete. I also do a painting of the back of the Santa so the sculptor can see what is in his sack or what the clothing looks like in the back.  If Santa’s  costume is ornately embellished or embroidered, I’ll paint an enlargement of the fabric, again, so the painter and sculptor can get a clear idea of what I am trying to convey.

Springerle (SPRING-uhr-lee) – These have been and still are traditional Christmas cookies in Bavaria and Austria for centuries. Springerle are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. Usually rectangular or circular in shape, they have a picture or design stamped on the top. The images are imprinted with specially carved rolling pins or flat molds (Springerle presses, or boards). After the cookies are baked, the designs are sometimes enhanced with edible food colors–or with tempera or acrylic paints, if the cookies are to be used as decorations.

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History:   The name Springerle comes from an old German dialect and means “little knight” or “jumping horse.” Historians trace these cookies back to the Julfest, a midwinter celebration of pagan Germanic tribes. Julfest ceremonies included the sacrificing of animals to the gods, in hope that such offerings would bring a mild winter and an early spring. Poor people who could not afford to kill any of their animals gave token sacrifices in the form of animal-shaped breads and cookies. Vestiges of these pagan practices survive in the baking of shaped-and-stamped German Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, Frankfurter Brenten, and Springerle.

The SPRINGERLE SANTA carries cookies and the hand carved molds used to make the cookies. Bakers in Europe made giant cookies out of giant carved molds to hang in the bakery windows at Christmas time. The old molds are highly collectible but as they are usually handed down through generations, they are difficult to find. Today many  bakers use a rolling pin that has the patterns carved into it. They roll it over the dough to imprint with the images and cut the images at the seams before baking.
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A fun way to display your Springerle Santa is to place him in the center of  a platter of  Christmas cookies.  If you’d like to start a new tradition for your family,  try baking Springerle cookies. Here is a great recipe site which includes a how-to video and sells the molds: https://www.houseonthehill.net/bake
Happy Baking!

The 8th Day of Christmas

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On the 8th day of Christmas, I thought I’d share 8 of my favorite Santas with you, although I have to admit I love every one I have ever designed.  These 8 are still available to order.  Above are the Canadian Santa,  Antarctic Santa, Peace to All Santa, Springerle Santa, Sweet Santa and Rescue Santa. Each Santa I design has a story behind it. As an artist, I don’t try to create something “cute” or something that will “sell”. It has to go deeper than that, have meaning or be inspired by a story, a memory, a tradition. This year’s Peace To All Santa was inspired by all that is going on around us in the world. We need to be reminded of peace, of the lion and lamb laying down together, of accepting each others differences and celebrating our individual customs, traditions and cultures. Santa is truly all about Peace, a well loved figure in almost every country in the world. There is no discrimination for Santa. Every child, every person matters.

santa_memories_santa_teddySanta and Teddy is one of my favorites pieces. Who doesn’t like Teddy Bears? Santa certainly does! My grand-daughter always looks for him when she comes to visit for Christmas.  Another favorite of mine is the Rescue Santa. I truly believe that children and animals deserve our protection, love and care. Both are dependent on what we do or don’t do.  Rescue Santa is a reminder that many animals in shelters need homes. Not just the cute little puppies and dogs, but the older, forgotten animals that aren’t quite as cute as a baby animal but have all the love and hope in their eyes that we could ever ask for. Albert Einstein said you can tell what a nation is like by how it treats its animals.  Did you know that in the Netherlands, mistreating an animal is a criminal offense? They have NO STRAY DOGS or pets, every animal is cared for. That just warms my heart.

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The Good News Santa is another of my very favorites. He’s an old guy, designed in 1996.  At home, I display him on a Bible on  my coffee table, reminding me of the GOOD NEWS of Christmas, Christ’s birth, peace and love to all. You might have noticed that many of my old world Santas carry toys that are not wrapped . That’s because people didn’t have decorative papers in the old days. Toys were just placed under the tree without any wrapping. Treats like apples or oranges were placed in a small paper plate  along with candies and nuts. My 95 year old Mother recalls taking a bite out of an orange in her Christmas plate, expecting to taste a nice juicy orange, only to find it was made of marzipan. Not at all what she was expecting but a good memory, nevertheless.

What is your favorite Santa?  Why? What is your favorite Christmas memory? Post it on my facebook page, PIpkas of Door County or Pipkas Cottage, and Debbie and I will send a Santa for the story with the most likes. Have a wonder-filled day!

 

The Ninth Day of Christmas

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Mikulas, The Hungarian Santa

Mikulas is the Hungarian name for St. Nicholas. Mikulás-day is celebrated in homes, schools and day care centers all over Hungary. Traditionally, kids polish their boots and put them in the window or in front of the door on the evening of December 5th. Mikulás secretly fills them with little presents during the night for children to find in the morning. He is often accompanied by an angel who carries the treats and a devil who carries switches, in case the children were naughty. Of course, the switches have little candies wrapped in pink and blue paper tied to them. The image of a stern and disciplanary Santa has been softened over the  years. The gift-giver on Christmas is traditionally Jézuska, the Christ Child.

Originally part of the Christian religion, it’s not known when the Mikulás-day tradition started in Hungary but written documents of the Saint Nicholas day celebrations date back as far as the 18th century.

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Budapest Christmas Market

Hungary has one of the great baking traditions of Europe, known for its savory cakes, many pastry shops, great confectioner dynasties. At home, recipes are passed down through generations and play an important part in holiday traditions. One of Hungary’s most famous cakes is Dobosh Torte, a towering concoction of  thin multiple layers of sponge cake filled with rich buttercream chocolate frosting

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Dobosh  Torte was first introduced at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885; King Franz Joseph I and Queen Elisabeth were among the first to taste it. The cake soon became popular throughout Europe as it was different from all others. It was simple but elegant and one of the first tortes in its use of fine buttercream which was very little known at the time. The chocolate buttercream and the batter of the cake were both invented by Jozsef C. Dobos in 1906. He donated the recipe to the local Pastry and Honey-Breadmakers Guild.

Anyuka, my grandmother from Czechoslovakia, often made this cake. She used oblaten, a wafer like cookie, for the layers,

imagesthen made her own buttercream filling by hand whipping butter in a deep bowl until it was as fluffy as whipped cream. After adding chocolate, she filled the oblaten layers with the mixture, then left it in the fridge for one day. That was a long day for us as we could hardly wait to eat her delicious torte.

Here is a modern day recipe for Dobosh Torte. It is easy to make but does require a little patience in assembling.

DOBOSH TORTE:

 CAKE INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup potato starch

2/3 cup sugar

6 eggs, separated

  1. Sift together flour and potato starch.  Set aside. Set aside two thirds of the sugar. Whisk the egg yolk with remaining sugar to a ribbon stage.
  2. In another bowl, beat egg white into soft peaks. Gradually add rest of sugar to form stiff peaks. Fold into flower mixture a little at a time.
  3.  Divide 1/3 of the mixture between two  8 1/2″ round cake pans that have been greased and line with parchment paper. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Cool. Clean and reuse pans for repeat the process two more times for a total of 6 layers of cake.

FILLING:

2 oz. semisweet chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. instant coffee

1 tsp. cocoa powder

Dissolve the instant coffee and cocoa powder in 2 TBL boiling water. Pour into a small heatproof bowl, add chocolate and melt over a double boiler. Let cool until thickened but not set. In another bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the chocolate and beat until fluffy and thick.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

Sandwich each of the layers together with about 1/4 inch of buttercream. Then spread more buttercream over the top and sides of cake. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Happy Baking!

Mikulas Santa, a Pipka Memories of Christmas edition, 2015. $160.

The Tenth Day of Christmas

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Care Packages by Michelle Mackintosh

 How often have  you heard someone say, “Oh, this is too pretty to open!” as they proceed to find the gift inside. I’ve always thought the wrapping of a gift as important as what’s inside. Besides, it’s so much fun to make a creative pretty package without having to run out to buy expensive papers and ribbons. Here’s a wonderful book to help get the creativity flowing. Packages wrapped like this will surely delight the recipient. Every page in CARE PACKAGES is in full color with full instructions, patterns and ideas on how to pack up everything….not just Christmas! CARE PACKAGES $24.99, free shipping.

Thank you for supporting our small business! We do our best to give  you specials, free shipping and ideas. Go to my Facebook page, Pipka’s Cottage, for an idea of how to package the Almond Cake for a gift. Have a GREAT DAY!

 

 

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