Christmas cookies warm and sweet – Christmas cookies ready to eat.
I used to be one of those moms. You know, the one that each September would write out a list of items she wanted to bake for Christmas, and then proceed to bake one a week for the next 3 months, squirreling them away in the freezer, so that in a moment’s notice she’d be able to assemble great little Christmas treat plates for her friends and neighbours – one of those moms. But that was then, and this is now. A now that rarely if ever sees me baking for even my own family, let alone friends and neighbours. A mom that has her weekends filled with band concerts and soccer tournaments, events, and work, and, and, and…. there just never seems to be the time that there used to be for doing such things as baking.
So when I heard that Jack and Phyllis Schimmel over at Schimmel’s Bakery had come up with a fantastic idea to give me that time to bake, I knew I had to jump on this particular baking bandwagon.
Starting in October, the Schimmel’s have hosted “Christmas Bake Nights’ for groups of a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12. All you need is $25 a person and a ton of containers to take your bounty home with you.
Jack does most of the work, mixing the dough and getting everything prepped, all we needed to do was show up, throw our heads into fetching biker scarves to control any unruly locks, don some aprons, roll up our sleeves, wash our hands and wait for Jack to point us in the right direction.
Everyone of the ladies in the group of 12 I was with, were each give a particular task. For my assigned baking partner Shirley and I it was tart time, and while Jack’s handy dandy rolling machine was able to roll us out perfect pie dough in one long fell swoop, we set to cutting and filled dozens and dozens of tiny tart tins, and cutting out little stars to place upon our tarts once they were filled. We also set to filling them with either a butter tart mixture, or a yummy mixture of cherries and Saskatoons. We rocked that job, if I do say so myself.
Once our tarts were set to baking, it was time to join the other minions at the big open baker’s block in the middle of the bakery, where our fellow bakers-in-arms were busy cutting out gingerbread men, decorating sugar cookies, and rolling out rum balls. It was a beautiful thing to watch, as hands patted down and rolled out dough, and discussions varied from wondering if snowmen could have purple eyes, to the latest antics of kids, husbands and pets. Taking a brief break in the action while the latest batch were baking in the giant commercial-sized oven, I looked around and realized, that perhaps for the first time in my life, I was experiencing what it must have been like back in the day when the women of the family would gather together in the kitchen to bake and laugh together. Being from a big city with a small family, with all of our relatives overseas, I had never before experienced that level of noisy camaraderie in the kitchen – and I liked it.
By the end of the night, only three hours later, I had five containers full of warm delicious cookies, sweet gooey butter tarts, and tart yet sweet cherry-Saskatoon tarts. I had fruit and nut refrigerator cookies, and two kinds of shortbread that melted in my mouth (because of course I had to try them!). I had rum balls and ginger snaps and the sweetest little snowman ever with purple eyes. I even had a couple of containers of the Schimmel’s infamous cinnamon buns to take home. One to put in my freezer to be baked on Christmas morning, and the other fully-baked to be devoured by my family the minute I walked through the door.
Thanks to the Schimmels and their fabulous idea, this year I am once again that mom. The one who’s giving boxes of cookies and treats to all she knows – most of which were made in one fun and laughter-filled night.
If you’re looking to strike baking off your Christmas To Do list – and want to have a ton of fun doing it, I’d highly recommend you GoHere.
How to GoHere: Schimmels bakery is located in Downtown Swift Current right on Central Ave – you can’t miss it, it’s the place with the giant blue windmill on the outside! But if you’re really looking for directions – check out our map here.
Gotta Go?: The Schimmel’s have a public washroom for the restaurant side of things, just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly as you are touching food that will be consumed by all of the group and whomever you gift it to.
Good to Know:
- If you’re looking to book on a weeknight, for a small added fee Jack will baked you up some fresh pizzas that the group can chow down on straight after work – let your families fend for themselves!
- Feel free to bring a bottle of wine, or some other favourite beverage to enjoy while you bake and chatter up a storm. Nothing quite makes a “girl’s night” like wine!
- One of the highlights of the night for me was watching Jack make his infamous Cinnamon buns – if you’ve never seen it, you don’t know what you’re missing.
- If anyone has a nut allergy that you are baking for – just let Jack know and he’ll make sure none of the recipes contain nuts.
- If you don’t have enough to go, or you’re an individual like I was, you can be put on a list to be paired up with a group that has under 12.
- Not just for Christmas and not just for ladies, they’ve hosted birthday parties, Cubs and Scouts – anyone who wants to spend a night baking. A great Girl’s Night Out idea before summer so you’ve got plenty of picnic cookies and you don’t have to heat your house up.
- If you’re interested for this Christmas you’d better call soon, as there aren’t too many open nights left.