Tips & tricks for the making of a collection of family recipes. Plus, a recipe for Dutch Christmas Bread from my friend’s family.
Preserving Family Traditions:
Last year, my friends Marlene and Andrew mentioned they were creating a recipe book as a holiday gift for their families. They had sneakily requested and compiled family classics throughout the year. They also added recipes they had created and come to love as a couple.
The collection combined Marlene’s Dutch culture and Andrew’s Jewish culture through food. The collection symbolized the way families come together, share, and grow richer through those exchanges. Obviously, this appealed to my heartstrings on so many levels, so I offered to help style and photograph their family classics. (It was ultimately a win for me because after photographing the selected recipes, we had quite the brunch feast!)
I meant to share these photos and this Dutch Christmas Bread recipe last year, but as so often happens, I was busy, and the season passed too quickly. However, as Christmas and Hanukah rolled around this year, I started reminiscing about the book and our brunch. The sentiment behind it felt even more meaningful after the major challenges of this year. It felt like this post was meant to be shared in 2020 all along.
After spending so much time alone, quietly reflecting, the global pandemic affirmed the importance of connection. I found so much comfort in my chosen family. This year reminded me of how truly lucky I am. It reminded me to waste even less, to be even more careful with what I do have. It reminded me how food feels more special when shared, how meaningful it is to cook and bake for other people. Marlene and Andrew’s book felt like a symbol for all of those lessons.
Perhaps you’re missing your family. Perhaps your traditions look different this year. There’s something magical in collecting recipes and stories from those you love, so if you’re still on the hunt for a holiday gift, it’s not too late.
Tips for Preserving Your Family’s Recipes:
- Format: Marlene chose a binder format, so her family could continue to add recipes to the collection and create a well-loved keepsake. (Plus, the girl really likes collating – ha!)
- Quantity: Don’t feel pressured to include everything. Think of this as an heirloom that will grow with your family over time. Maybe you send a new page(s) each year.
- Recipe Writing: Just know that you’ll probably run into a lot of friends/relatives who don’t really know how much flour they use or when exactly they add the egg yolks, but that’s the fun of family recipes.
- Photo tips: Assuming you don’t have a commercial stylist in your back pocket, don’t get too hung up here. Stick to overhead food shots for ease and try to use natural window light instead of kitchen light for the best outcome. The simpler the better.
- Layout/Design: Canva is a great design tool for non-designers and designers alike. It will make your recipes look polished.
Dutch Christmas Bread (Kerstbrood)
This recipe for Dutch Christmas Bread comes from Marlene’s side of the family, and I always love learning about her Dutch traditions. When Marlene was growing up, her dad, an Amsterdam native, would bake this bread a few days before Christmas. On Christmas morning, the whole family would enjoy warm slices with butter and powdered sugar while opening presents. Having shared this bread with Marlene and Andrew for two holiday seasons now, this Dutch Christmas bread has become a special tradition for me too.
The recipe for “Harold’s Cranberry Sauce” holds another soft spot in my heart. Marlene invited me to take part in a New England cranberry harvest, and these berries were quite literally the fruits of our labor.
“Just wondering if there might be a pup pancake somewhere on that table – perhaps near the bacon?”
You Might Also Like: Big-Batch Multigrain Pancake Mix
In the spirit of the holidays, this recipe is perfect for gifting and perfect for having on hand if you have extra guests during the holiday season. Be sure to check out this whole grain, gluten-free pancake mix from my cookbook, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook.
Dutch Christmas Bread (Kerstbrood)
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 packets dry active yeast
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 cups dried fruit & nuts such as craisins and walnuts, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
- 3 egg yolks
- Powdered sugar
- Use a microwave or the stovetop to heat the milk until lukewarm. Add the sugar and yeast, and stir slightly. Set the mixture aside for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and bubbly.
- Add the flour to a mixing bowl, and create a well in the middle. Pour the milk mixture into the well, then stir together.
- Cover the bowl with a towel, and set it aside in a warm place to rise. After 30 minutes, transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest, and the dried fruit and nut mixture. Knead the ingredients together until combined and the dried fruits and nuts are evenly distributed.
- Divide the dough between two greased loaf pans. Sprinkle a tiny bit of water on top of each loaf to retain moisture, then cover and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, and bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes.
- To serve, dust the loaf with powdered sugar, then toast individual slices and top with butter.