It’s barely November 1st, but I have already been planning my holiday baking for a few weeks. I’m someone who really, really likes to plan in advance – a night out, a family event, someone’s birthday, a trip across the country, anything. That includes my baking habits.

Little bit of background: I bake often. Weekly, if I feel like I can’t resist a recipe. I also live alone so those in my workplaces suffer from the burden of lots of baked goods. But when it comes to the holidays, I’ve developed some favourites and treats that can be expected to appear at parties, in personal gift boxes, or on days that end in 'y'.

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Fall/Thanksgiving baking is less dramatic than my Christmas baking (largely because I cannot out-bake my Nana and she tends to handle most desserts for the Thanksgiving gathering..), but here’s a nice introduction to what we can expect for a December post.

(quick cheat: this easy-peasy blondie recipe will trick people into helping you get rid of that leftover Halloween candy..)

  • Apple butter quick bread. This is my go-to recipe, although as with most recipes I work around, I have my personal adjustments that I don’t plan to disclose. Just note that a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top of the bread while baking adds a lovely new dimension. And I try to always use a homemade apple butter (it’s soo easy), which means I have even more influence on the spices!
  • Cozy banana quick bread. Okay, I make banana bread all the time anymore (shout-out to my coworker that gives me her aging bananas every couple weeks) and I don’t actually love it – personally, I’d rather have zucchini or apple butter bread. BUT. I do boast of making excellent banana bread. This is the most efficient recipe I’ve used and what I’ve started falling back on – although again, I add a small extra ingredient (a glug of molasses does wonders and I add it often). For the fall, I throw in ginger and a heavy dose of cloves to make it a little more seasonal.
  • *Note: for these seasonal quick breads, one batch makes 5-6 mini loaves which is perfect for holiday gifting.
  • Cranberry oat bars. I only found this recipe a little over a year ago and it is unreasonably good. Too much left-over cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving? Don’t even like cranberry sauce? (me) This is the answer. I intend to make this one for my Christmas share-plate at work too.
  • Gingersnap icebox cake. I. Love. Ginger. And molasses. In all my baked goods. Which may absolutely be why fall/winter baking is my favourite. This one is actually very simple for the variety of ingredients, just make sure you have a spring-form pan because it makes or breaks the cake (which is not necessarily an actual ‘cake’). It’s like molasses-y ice cream. Mmm.
  • Apple crumble bars. Okay, I lied a little. It’s not molasses I’m crazy in love with in the colder months, it’s apples and cinnamon and brown sugar. Apple pie of all the best variations. But – a little secret here – I do not make pies, in part again because of my Nana’s super-powers, and because I’m honestly just terrified of making pie crust. Pie crust and snakes are my two greatest fears. So this is a cheater’s version of my favourite dessert; it satisfies my exact cravings and causes less anxiety.

And that’s a basic outline to start my holiday season. At least 2 or 3 of these are guaranteed to be made every November (and I absolutely encourage everyone who is able to try those cranberry oat bars – GOSH, they’re good).

What about your families? What’s a tradition for your holidays?