Chef's Choice: Holiday baking with Sabrina Perfitt of Sugar Momma Pastries 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF JOERN ROHDE PHOTOGRAPHY - HOLIDAY CLASSIC Sabrina Perfitt says anyone can make her favourite gingerbread cookie recipe.
  • Photo courtesy of Joern Rohde Photography
  • HOLIDAY CLASSIC Sabrina Perfitt says anyone can make her favourite gingerbread cookie recipe.

What is it about the Christmas season that lends itself so well to baking?

"It's the entertaining," said Sabrina Perfitt, of Sugar Momma Pastries.

"It's very comforting having those beautiful smells of gingerbread and buttery shortbread, and eggnog, nutmeg, all those beautiful flavours.

"It's a time to be warm and cozy, and it is an entertaining time of year... it's when people pull out the good stuff and let themselves eat a little more."

Listening to Perfitt talk about Christmas baking is enough to make anyone long for home and family.

For Perfitt, the Christmas season means even more baking than normal.

"I'm crazy busy, yeah. I am trying to juggle it all," she said, just seconds before the oven timer keeping watch on her sugar cookies interrupted our phone call.

"I have no idea what to expect. I don't know if people are going to be wanting stuff for Christmas dinner, I don't know if they're going to want to eat stuff right now. I'm happy to take orders," she said.

Everything that comes out of the Sugar Momma bakery is made to order — "I like to keep it as fresh as possible," Perfitt said — which means a whole lot of work for Perfitt.

"It's just crazy — there goes the timer again — everybody's entertaining," she said.

"Some people are very last minute. Some people forget that they need to bring things and call me at the last minute. I've got regular visitors that come to town that place regular orders with me, and I'm doing a spectacular Lamborghini cake on Christmas day, which will be really fun."

And when it comes to Christmas baking, there's never any shortage of variety.

Perfitt does everything from gingerbread (both soft and "industrial" — for building houses and trees) to shortbread and trifles.

"I do some beautiful trifles, and a sherry trifle that's in a beautiful glass bowl," Perfitt said.

"I was delivering one to a client yesterday and I almost had to fight off someone in the elevator who wanted it."

Perfitt's industrial gingerbread was put to the test by Pique staff last week, when a gingerbread-Christmas-tree-decorating contest led to trash talking and jealousy — and more than a few full stomachs.

Perfitt even does a variety of fruitcakes — the much-maligned Christmas treat of many.

"Fruitcake gets a bad rap, really. You either love it or you hate it," Perfitt said.

"I put a poll out on Facebook a couple of years ago, whether people prefer light or dark, and I got really positive comments on the light or the dark, and then I got a lot of really bad comments about fruitcake in general.

"It also traditionally was used as wedding cakes, and nobody asks for fruitcake for their wedding anymore."

And in special cases Perfitt does a unique twist on the Christmas staple.

"I have some (fruitcakes) that have been... regularly doused in brandy for quite some time, more than a year," she said. "So that's very special."

That unique treat generally isn't for sale, she said.

As a professional baker, the Christmas season lends itself to Perfitt's creative tendencies.

"I just love it. It feeds my creative spirit," she said.

"I can make things absolutely gorgeous. Pretty little yummy things is what I do, though they're not too pretty to eat. They are definitely all edible."

But while it's certainly a busy time of the year, it's not all that different from how things usually are for Perfitt and Sugar Momma.

"I don't think there is a normal anymore, really," she said.

"Especially living in a resort."

With the gingerbread cookie recipe Perfitt provided — her personal favourite gingerbread recipe — she said the key is to just have fun with it.

"Just go for it. If you don't have a rolling pin you can use a wine bottle, if you don't have cookie cutters you can use a glass," she said. "Anyone can do it."

You can find Perfitt and her Sugar Momma Pastries every week at the Made in Whistler Market from 12-5 p.m. at the Westin Resort and Spa, or look her up on Facebook at Sugar Momma Pastries.

Sugar Momma Pastries Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

3/4 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking powder

Preparation

Sift dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add molasses. Carefully add flour mixture. Mix together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold.

Roll to 1/4", cut and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Decorate in any way you wish or eat unadorned!

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