It is only a few days to the Winter Solstice and then the sun will start to rise again. As we approach Christmas, we focus on its traditions instead of the dwindling light. In Niagara, we have Dutch Bakeries. This time of year is when Dutch baking reaches its zenith. Yesterday at the Old Post was a series of almond baked treats. The bakery rack was set up in the middle of the store, and piled with these. One of the bakers gave me a tour of what differentiated the many treats.
The most frequent Dutch treat that is available all year round is Boterkoek or Dutch Butter Cake. It comes in a small round just over an inch high and is a dense, slightly raised cake with almond flavouring and garnished with almonds.
A flaky puff pastry that encases a soft, flavourful almond paste centre is made for Christmas. It is a very small roll, so that when cut is the size of a cookie. This means there is a lot of almond with just enough flaky pastry.
There were many Dutch stollen piled high - it is a cake-like fruit bread with yeast. The Dutch version has almond paste in the middle.
And a Christmas bread was out yesterday - - Kerststol. It is an oval-shaped fruited Christmas bread - and it what is filled with? Almond paste.
The Old Post is no modern bakery. It has no relationship to Tim Horton and McDonald's monster size muffins or Starbuck cookies the size of plates. What lines the shelves are dozens of old-fashioned treats. Cookies like we made when we were small - they are small. Scones, pies, squares, breads, tarts are sized for one person to eat - not for a crowd. The staff range in age from young to older and all enjoy their products and tell you about them. It is a wonderful experience to enter that world each week.
Today's sunrise pictures come from St. Augustine, Florida. I noticed a pair of dolphins in the lower left of the second image, swimming through the golden waters.