Food & Drink

These recipes and ideas go beyond gifts. They can help create new traditions.

Crawford & Son pastry chef Krystle Swenson infuses her pumpkin cheesecake with a sense of place and family.
Crawford & Son pastry chef Krystle Swenson infuses her pumpkin cheesecake with a sense of place and family. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Welcome to our annual holiday baking guide. Each year, as we brainstorm stories and recipes to share, a theme tends to emerge.

This year, that theme is giving, whether it’s sharing a family recipe with friends, making homemade edibles to give as presents, or the utensil or culinary gadget that you plan to give your favorite foodie.

Naturally, the act of giving goes hand and hand with tradition, and the traditions that shape our holiday experiences. Many come from our families and the comfortable rituals that repeat themselves year after year, those that we don’t shake in adulthood. Then there are those that we find later in life as we acquire new family members, friends and new customs that gradually intertwine with those we thought would never change.

Our team of food writers turned to culinary experts, chefs, bakers, food purveyors and cookbook authors to seek out these traditions.

We asked the bakers, those who can whip up decadent concoctions seemingly with ease: What do you make for your families at the holidays? Those beloved recipes, many of them on food-spattered recipe cards, are still replicated with memories firmly intact. Some found those recipes in unexpected places, as you’ll read in the story of Keijuane Hester. Crawford & Son pastry chef Krystle Swenson infuses her pumpkin cheesecake, pictured here, with a sense of place – of her past and present – and family.

Then you have people like Mike Richardson, who, after he stopped working, made the most of his passions of gardening and canning. He has won ribbons for his preserves and shares the bounty with those around at the holidays.

Beyond giving stuff, the things you can pick up at the store, these gifts are all about the personal touch.

They remind our bakers and chefs of home, of family and friends, of memories with those they love.

We hope you’ll enjoy these, too, and maybe they’ll inspire some new traditions in your home.

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov

Holiday Baking Guide

Find all the stories and recipes at nando.com/baking.

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