Maura’s December 2020 Baking Advent Calendar

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So many people have reached out and asked for the recipes for many of the bakes I did in December 2020 as part of my Baking Advent Calendar, during which I baked every day from December 1 through December 25. You can read more about what I learned from that experience here. You don’t have to love baking (or even have any interest in it!) to take something away from my lessons.
  • December 1: Ben’s birthday cake (photo at the top of the post!)– this is the cake recipe for Ben’s cake — it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe!)
  • December 2: Basic Shortcrust Pastry — this is a basic and fairly easy-to-make (if you’re intimidated by pastry) recipe for homemade pastry, which I used for my Thanksgiving leftover hand pie (it’s not a hot pocket – LOL!). If you have leftovers, just freeze them for later!
  • December 3: Gingerbread Bundt Cake — I love a Bundt cake pan, and Nordicware makes some amazing ones. I gave this one some very simple decoration and gifted it to my State REALTOR® Association office for the staff!
  • December 4: Parsnip and Orange Spiced Cake — I’ve wanted to make a parsnip cake (like a carrot cake, with a twist) for a while. This seemed like a great time to try it out! It’s delicious…and the cream cheese frosting is…um…the icing on the cake!
  • December 5: Yorkshire Puddings — if you’re looking for an AMAZING alternative to dinner rolls, try a Yorkshire Pudding. Don’t be thrown off by the name — it’s not pudding the way Americans think of pudding; it’s a British traditional “roll” often served with a Sunday roast supper (think: roast chicken, beef, or lamb). You drop the dough into a hot pan onto melted, sizzling bacon grease… Yum.
  • December 6: Mulled Berry Jam (I used the jam recipe ONLY from this page) and Cream Cheese Frosting for Ben’s birthday cake (pictured at the top of this post!)
  • December 7: Bourbon Bacon Pecan Brittle — enough said.
  • December 8: Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti — biscotti isn’t just for those with a sweet tooth! This savory version is delicious and perfect for a cocktail party or just a snack!
  • December 9: Mini Pear Pies (photo in the collage above, second from left) — these are Paul Hollywood’s recipe, a famous technical challenge from The Great British Bake Off. They involve making your own puff pastry, BUT you can also use ready-made (found in your grocery’s freezer section). These make a fairly simple and impressive dessert for guests!
  • December 10: Challah Bread — bread is way more intimidating to me than almost anything sweet, but this is an almost-foolproof recipe that I’ve saved to make again and again!
  • December 11: Mini Puff Pastry Pizzas — no recipe for this one. I had leftover puff pastry (from the Mini Pear Pies), so I fashioned cute little pizza crusts, brushed them with olive oil, and topped them with leftover chopped sautéed mushrooms, Kalamata olives, and a sprinkle of feta cheese (you can also do this with store-bought, ready-made puff pastry from your grocery’s freezer section for a decadent dinner or a cocktail party or happy hour with friends).
  • December 12: Miniature Wedding Cake — I had friends getting married in Costa Rica and couldn’t be there to celebrate with them, so I made them a mini wedding cake (about 4″ tall by 4″ across), and they’ll freeze it for their one-year anniversary. The link is to the cake recipe — a moist and delicious spice cake.
  • December 13: Cranberry Curd Tart — made from the New York Times Cooking site, I made this beauty for Thanksgiving, and it was so good that I made it again for friends.
  • December 14: Cranberry Almond Shortbreads (photo in the collage above, second from right) — I had so many fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving (hence the second Cranberry Curd Tart), and I really hate waste, so I found these shortbreads to make with the last of them (I even had some cranberry-orange-pomegranate relish left from Thanksgiving that I threw in, as well).
  • December 15 through 18: Cookie Week! — I made my favorite four varieties of cookies from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book, which my grandmother, mother, and I would use for our Christmas cookies when I was a child, and some of them are in my annual Christmas baking rotation. The recipes are not online, but if you can find the book, I highly recommend having a copy in your kitchen!
  • December 19: Mini Mincemeat Pies with Marzipan made with Homemade Mincemeat made with Homemade Candied Peel — my dad LOVES mincemeat. Hence, I made him some homemade mincemeat (with homemade candied orange and lemon peel because I couldn’t find any locally) and then made him some mini mincemeat pies with grated marzipan for a little extra glamour and flavor!
  • December 20: Fougasse (photo in the collage above, far left) — this beautiful bread looks more difficult than it is and is so delicious. Bread lovers, add this to your list!
  • December 21: Homemade Healthy Dog Treats (photo in the collage above, far right) — if you know me, you know about the Beagles. How could I leave them out of my holiday baking?
  • December 22: Christmas Cake — better known in the States as fruit cake, but do not be deterred; this is like no “fruit cake” you’ve ever tasted and is well worth making. It makes a great gift, too! I covered mine in rolled-out marzipan (I bought some, though if you’re adventurous and have the time, you can make your own!) and shipped it to my in-laws in their Christmas box!
  • December 23: My House, in Gingerbread (photos below!) — yep, I did; I made my house in gingerbread. I drew the templates, baked the gingerbread, decorated it, and even made roof shingles out of fondant. Want to design and create your own? The recipe link is for construction gingerbread — it’s still edible but is stronger and more sturdy than traditional gingerbread!
  • December 24: Bûche de Noël (or Yule Log) with Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting — a traditional and fun-to-make holiday dessert created to look like a yule log — be as creative as you want (I added little marzipan mushrooms). Google “yule log” and see the amazing imaginative creations, and then make your own!
  • December 25: Ligurian Focaccia — my contribution to Christmas dinner at my brother’s house. He was cooking and requested that I bring the bread! OH MY GOSH, do I recommend this bread! Don’t be turned off by the long proving time — it’s worth it!


  • Pretty Little Christmas Tree Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting — made from a fantastic spice cake (I had some leftover from the mini wedding cake!), with salted caramel frosting, and the Christmas tree is from the Construction Gingerbread, cut-out stars in descending sizes and stacked, using a little frosting to join them!
  • Small-Batch Sugar Cookies — want to make just a few cookies, either for you or a project with kids? This recipe makes around 12-16 cookies and is just perfect! Decorate with Royal Icing (you can easily cut this recipe in half to make less)!