There are many opportunities to celebrate during the twelve days of Christmas. One day that we love is the Feast of the Holy Family, which is observed the Sunday after Christmas Day. This festival focuses on the fact that Jesus had a family—Mary and Joseph, and some brothers and sisters. This day reminds us of the importance of family in our lives. You get to choose your friends by selecting people that share your interests, but by and large family are people whom God has chosen for you. You are stuck with them! This festival helps us to see family as a gift from God.
For this celebration, we have chosen gingerbread, because it is the most human centered baked good. You can make gingerbread men using cookie cutters or a paper pattern to get the image you want. Making a cookie to represent each member of your family and decorating them distinctly may be a fun way to involve everyone. We made images of the Holy Family in a Nativity Scene and really like the recipe below.
Pictured Above: The Holy Family, by Raphael (1518 – Oil on Canvas)
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (4 ounces) light brown sugar
1/3 cup (4 ounces) plain baking molasses
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Royal Icing to decorate (we like the store bought the best, but you can make your own as well)
- Combine the 4 ounces unsalted softened butter, 1/2 cup (4 ounces) light brown sugar , 1/3 cup (4 ounces) plain baking molasses, 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix on low speed briefly then increase to medium and beat for 5 or so minutes or until fluffy and light.
- Add the 2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour all at once and continue mixing until well combined. Form into a smooth ball, divide in half and flatten each half into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. On a flour-dusted counter, roll out dough until 1/8 inch thick and make cookies of your desired shape and size. Arrange cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets.
- Bake the gingerbread using the center oven rack for about 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet. Enjoy!