The Christmas ornaments and stockings are in the attic and the swag with red lights that hung on the porch has joined the tree stand in storage. Before the last bit of Christmas cheer tiptoes away, join me for a seasonal tale in the Land of St. Honore', where baking is a birthright.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, in the Land of St. Honore’, the hall clock struck 2 in the wee hours of the morning. As the refrigerator door swung open, it illuminated the elfin features of Mitzi, one of Santa’s helpers. She checked to see that the old dog hadn’t been awakened by the light, but he was still asleep by the couch in the glow of the Christmas tree lights.
It was Little Christmas or Epiphany, January 6th, and Mitzi was homesick. On Christmas night she had been with Santa on the sleigh with her own sack of goodies...for Santa. He was fighting off a cold and her job was to provide chicken soup from the Thermos, nasal spray as needed, and large white handkerchiefs for his drippy nose.
Unfortunately at one stop Nature called. How she wished that female elves could wiz anywhere like the guys. Since she couldn’t she had left the sleigh to find a bathroom. Santa didn’t realize she was gone and had left for the next stop. She was lucky that there was a nice hall closet where she could curl up with the coats and mufflers to sleep.
At first she didn’t mind being stranded. The people in the house didn’t miss oranges and apples, nor yogurt or mini carrots. She ate while they slept and slept under the bed in the spare room while they were awake.
There were also plenty of gingerbread cookies at hand. She had managed to avoid the after Christmas clean up at the North Pole and now felt very rested. The problem was how to let Santa know where she was so he could come get her.
One thing that Santa loved was banana bread. Mrs. Claus rarely made it because she was trying to keep his weight in check. Mitzi decided to bake some to lure Santa to her hideaway.
First she took some eggs from the fridge and some leftover eggnog…Santa loved eggnog, too. Then she warmed some rum and soaked dried cranberries in it. Then she found the softened butter on the counter and sugars in the pantry. By standing on the counter top she was able to find, measure out and combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, and some nutmeg…the latter to set off the seasonal eggnog flavor.
Once the oven was preheated and she had found a bread pan, she whisked together the butter, sugars, egg, some vanilla, and the eggnog. Next she stirred in some grody old brown skinned soft bananas that she had peeled and smooshed. Then she added the dry ingredients and mixed ‘em up, threw in the cranberries and the rum they were soaking in, and added a handful of chopped walnuts from the ‘fridge. Once well stirred the batter smelled great!
Into the bread pan it went and the pan into the oven. She played some jacks while the bread baked. Once the bread was out of the oven and it had cooled just a little bit, she cut two slices and wrapped them carefully in paper towels.
Then she took the rest of the fresh bread over to the fireplace. It was cold since no fire had been lit that day. Softly she blew across the loaf of bread and the fragrance was caught and went up the chimney. In an amazingly short time she heard the bells jingling on the reindeer harness.
Santa had indeed smelled her banana bread and come to get her! She put the loaf back on the counter for the family who had provided for her for the twelve night, grabbed the slices in the paper towel and was at the hearth just in time to see Santa’s hand reaching out for her from the chimney. Once they were in the sleigh and on their way back to the North Pole, he tried her luscious Eggnog Rum Cranberry Banana Bread. Hohohohoho! It was sure good.
Eggnog Rum Cranberry Banana Bread
¼ cup dark rum, warmed slightly
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup eggnog
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts
In small bowl combine the warm rum and the dried cranberries. Set aside to soak while you prepare the bread batter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs , one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the eggnog and vanilla and combine. The mixture may look curdled. That is OK. Stir in the bananas. Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir just until combined. Add the cranberries and their soaking liquid and the walnuts and stir until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. Test for doneness with a toothpick in center. When done, toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs on it. Cool well. Store overnight before cutting...if you can wait that long…a certain elf couldn’t. A serrated knife makes cutting easier.
Makes one loaf.