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Gift Ideas for Special Occasions
Fresh Bread and Jams

Fresh Bread and JamsWhat could be better than a loaf of fresh bread and some homemade jam or apple butter? Wrap your warm loaf of bread in a pretty tea towel and tie a ribbon around it. Deliver it with a jar of jam and one of apple butter. Some of you may have bread machines and that is wonderful, but I prefer the old-fashioned way. Here is my favorite bread recipe and two easy jams and an apple butter recipe.

Basic White Bread

6 c. flour, divided
3 T. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
3 T. butter

Combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Combine water, milk, and butter; heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Cool to 120-130 degrees. Gradually add liquid mixture to flour mixture, beating well at high speed of electric mixer. Beat an additional 2 minutes at medium speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup flour, beating 2 minutes at medium speed. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Shape into a ball, and place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half. Roll one portion of dough into a 14 X 7-inch rectangle. Roll up dough, starting at narrow edge, pressing firmly to eliminate all pockets; pinch ends to seal. Place dough, seam side down, in a well-greased 9 X 5-inch loaf pan. Repeat procedure with remaining portion of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.

Brandied Strawberry Jam

4 c. strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. brandy extract or to taste or 1/4 c. brandy, divided
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine strawberries, sugar, and 3 tablespoons brandy in a heavy Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 45 minutes) stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon into a bowl; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

Christmas Jam

This recipe comes from my friend Bette Brinson.

1 (12 oz.) pkg. fresh cranberries
2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen strawberries, drained
4 c. sugar
1 (3 oz.) pkg. liquid pectin

Chop cranberries coarsely in food processor. Combine cranberries, strawberries, and sugar in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and cook one minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add pectin to mixture. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Quickly pour jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Yield: 7 half pints.

Apple Butter

12 lbs. apples (24 c.)
6 lbs. sugar
1 c. vinegar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
2 T. red hot cinnamon candies

Peel and chop apples. Cook apples in a roaster pan at 250 degrees until done. Run apples through a colander. Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well. Bake in the roaster pan at 300 degrees until it is thick. Seal hot in sterilized jars.



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