The days are turning cooler, and before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. It’s a busy time of year for sure! But have you ever wondered how the Amish celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas?
The Amish do celebrate Thanksgiving, and will often have several dinners over several days in order to accommodate their large extended family. That means a lot of cooking and baking goes on. But then comes the eating and visiting together, and there is much to be thankful for.
As for Christmas, Amish folks may not celebrate Christmas in the same ways many of us do, but they do have their own special approach to commemorating the birth of the Christ Child. For instance, they forego Christmas trees and decorations that include Santa or even a nativity scene. But some families will highlight the season by bringing evergreen boughs into the house and placing candles in windows, and on Christmas morning there is sure to be a present or two for each family member. The day is usually spent quietly together, eating a big meal and possibly singing Christmas hymns.
There is, indeed, much to celebrate!
Your family probably has a number of recipes that make your Christmas traditions come alive. I’d like to share with you an old recipe that my family has made for years. Called “Christmas Cake,” it’s rich and moist and tastes especially good on cold winter evenings. Probably because it starts with a pound of butter!
- 2 cups (4 sticks) butter
- 2¼ cups light brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 4 cups flour, sifted
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 T. nutmeg
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 lb. seedless golden raisins (I buy a 15-ounce box and call it good)
- 3 cups chopped pecans
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and beat until very light and mixture doesn’t look grainy (takes about 20 minutes total). Sift together the flour, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add gradually to the creamed mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in the orange juice (at this point I use a large wooden spoon). Fold in the raisins and pecans.
Spread the cake batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The batter has just been spooned into the tube pan, ready to bake.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Then turn the pan over and let cake slip out gently. Cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store for 5-7 days before serving because it tends to be crumbly when fresh.
Here’s the Christmas Cake fresh from the oven. It smells so good!
And here it is, cocooned in plastic wrap. I’ll set it in my pantry for a week and then we’ll dig in!
Kathleen Kerr works in publishing and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country. She lives with her husband and daughter in the Pacific Northwest, where she can often be found hiking, writing, and creating chaos in the kitchen.
Connect with Kathleen: Blog
Georgia Varozza is the author of the popular book, The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook (nearly 60,000 copies sold), enjoys teaching people how to prepare and preserve healthy foods, live simply, and get the most from what they have. Her latest release, written with Kathleen Kerr, is The Amish Baking Cookbook. She works in publishing and lives in a small Oregon community.
Connect with Georgia: Website
Purchase Georgia’s books here.
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