Hannah Drake


What I'm Baking This Holiday Season

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

It’s no secret I love baking, but that love knows no limits during the holiday season. I really enjoy sharing my baking with friends, family, and neighbours. Here’s what I’m including in my gift tins for our neighbours again this year:

What I'm Baking This Holiday Season - Gingerbread


I never know what to call this because it’s more cakey than it is bready.

My favourite way to enjoy gingerbread is warm with a side of peppermint ice cream. Peppermint ice cream isn't available here in the UK, which is a shame because it's a Larson family staple at Christmastime!

What I'm Baking This Holiday Season - Candy Coated Pretzels

Candy Coated Pretzels

If you can boil water, you can make these. I melted a whole bag of Wilton's candy melts in a double boiler, dipped the pretzels, tapped off the excess, and let them dry on parchment paper. I enlisted Luke's help to smash up some candy canes so I could top them off with red sprinkles and bits of peppermint. They turned out delicious! A whole bag of candy melts covered about 80 pretzels.

What I'm Baking This Holiday Season - Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

I've been searching for years for a good sugar cookie recipe that will not only taste good, but keep the shape after being baked. Sally's Baking Addiction, my favourite online source for baking recipes, to the rescue! She'll walk you through the recipe and the technique, explaining why each step is important to producing the perfect cut out sugar cookies. I also used the royal icing recipe she included, piping it from a bottle, not a bag. I'm really happy with how they turned out. They kept their shape, I was able to line and then flood the cookies while icing, and the icing hardened so they were stackable and not sticky.

What I'm Baking This Holiday Season - Molasses Cookies

Molasses Cookies

I’ve seen—and tried—a number of ginger or molasses cookies, but I liked the way these spread and flatten better than another tasty recipe I’ve tried. After over baking the first 8 cookies by about 1-2 minutes, the rest turned out perfect. They're soft and chewy, but still have a nice "crust" on the outside.

What I'm Baking This Holiday Season - Cardamom Sugar Cookies

Cardamom Sugar Cookies

My sister made these a few years ago, I think for a Christmas cookie exchange party, and I've wanted to make them ever since. I couldn't find any ground cardamom at the shop, so I ended up getting pods and once again enlisted Luke for his smashing skills. He broke open the pods, separated out the seeds, and then ground them. It took about 15 pods per 1 teaspoon and it wasn't ground as finely as store-bought probably would have been, but apparently grinding your own makes for a better flavor. I adjusted the glaze recipe a bit, using about 1 cup of powdered sugar with the same amount of water to make it stiffer and I just drizzled it on top instead of icing them properly.

I'm always looking to branch out, so if you have any holiday favourites, post a link to the recipe in the comments below!

Second Annual Drake Thanksgiving

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

We hosted our second Friendsgiving over the weekend for some friends from church. It was so much work, but so much fun and definitely our best one yet. I started prep for it on Thursday by making the syrups for our two cocktails. I did the bulk of the cooking on Friday, which certainly had its setbacks. And my friend Taylor came over early on Saturday to help me finish off the side dishes while Luke managed the turkey and made more than one last minute grocery store runs. We also made a few upgrades from Thanksgiving 2017.

The first improvement, was extending our table. Last year just put our two tables together, but the table from our kitchen was slightly taller and slightly more narrow than our dining room table, so it didn’t look quite right. Over the summer, after we replaced the table with our bar, Luke turned the kitchen table into a table with hinged legs, making it perfect for picnics in the back garden. He was careful with the leg heights so we could add a board that was the same width as our dining room table to the top and it would all be the same height. Perfect! But still, our table is so narrow, so this year we got even more boards to put on top of the whole thing, making it about 6 inches wider, which made a world of difference. Especially since the plates we got for our wedding are bigger than the plates we got from IKEA when we first moved in together.

Our menu was also bigger than it was last year, starting with having two signature cocktails this year. Last year, I made my go-to autumn cocktail, which was great and perfect for Thanksgiving. This year, I decided to go with two different cocktails with Thanksgiving flavour: an apple cinnamon gin & tonic and a cranberry Moscow Mule. I set everything up on our bar and then forgot to take photos of the bar and the drinks! We even had this cool glass bottles for the simple syrups and got to use the pourers that came in our cocktail set for probably the second time. It was legit!



  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 apple (any kind), sliced

  • 2 oz apple cinnamon simple syrup

  • 1 1/2 oz gin

  • 3 oz tonic water


  • Make cinnamon apple simple syrup:

    • In a medium saucepan, bring apples, cinnamon, sugar, and water to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard apples.

  • Coat rim with lemon juice, then cinnamon sugar mixture.

  • In a cocktail glass, combine all ingredients, and stir. Add ice, and serve.

  • Garnish with thinly sliced apple and cinnamon stick.



  • 2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (8 ounces)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 oz cranberry simple syrup

  • 2 oz vodka

  • ginger beer

  • 6 frozen cranberries

  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • Make cranberry simple syrup:

    • In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until cranberries are tender but haven't burst, 10 minutes. Let cool, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard cranberries.

  • Combine all ingredients, and stir. Pour over ice, and serve, preferably in a copper mug.

  • Garnish with cranberries.

I also added mac & cheese to our menu this year. My family has never had mac & cheese as a Thanksgiving side, but I know it’s a staple for some families and after we discovered the world’s best mac & cheese earlier this fall, I couldn’t resist. While looking at our menu, I realised we were seriously lacking on the veggies department, so I decided to do roasted carrots and parsnips too.

One of my goals for this autumn was to try a new recipe for Thanksgiving, and I actually tried two! The carrots and parsnips are the first. And instead of making the caramel apple pie I made last year, this year I made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. It was the first disaster on Friday when I checked on it in the oven and realised the filling had essentially swallowed the crust. The recipe didn’t call for the crust to be baked before adding it and it definitely should have. Plus it took about twice and long to cook than the recipe called for. Luckily I had left over pie crust so I cut out some leaves to add to the top, but I forgot to give them an egg wash so they didn’t look as done as they should have.

The other setbacks I experienced on Friday were spilling some tea into the beginning of my bread dough. I was tight on counter space and had my tea cup between the bowl and the hand mixer, so when I went to pick it up, I also managed to spin the hand mixer, which then ran into the tea cup and then spilled not anywhere on the counter, but all into the bowl! Luckily I had only added two cups of the flour and I had exactly enough milk to remake the dough. Later that night, I had some issues trying to add the pumpkin design onto the cheesecake. I just gave up in the end, but I lost a bit of the filling set aside for the design, so it was the opposite of the pecan pie: 90% crust, 10% filling. Ha!

The last improvement we had this year was cooking a whole turkey. Last year, I was absolutely terrified that we would end up with an under-cooked or even frozen turkey, so we opted for a large turkey breast that could be cooked from frozen. This year, Luke was determined to cook a whole turkey, so he took on the main dish from the beginning. He defrosted it, brined it, even added a beautiful bacon lattice on top! And let me tell you, it was beautiful and delicious! He really did a fantastic job.

Thanksgiving 2018 was fantastic! British people asked me a lot this week 1) What is Thanksgiving? and 2) Am I sad not to be home for Thanksgiving? Truth be told, I don’t mind missing Thanksgiving in the States. Of course I miss my family, but that’s true every day! I’m glad we’ve been able to create our own traditions and share our table with friends who have become our Birmingham family each year. Food is such a powerful thing when it comes to memories and comfort and being able to recreate my favourite dishes from my grandmother’s menu or my mother’s menu or my stepmother’s menu has been an amazing way to feel connected to my family and feel like I’m taking on that role in my own family. Also, I think the fact that Thanksgiving isn’t a set date makes it easier to be in another country that doesn’t celebrate it at all. Of course no one has the day off here, so we’ve done it on the weekend both years. I don’t mind it much because having Thanksgiving on the 24th of November is no big deal!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and are still enjoying all those delicious left overs! We’re doing a late Late Thanksgiving this evening with some friends who weren’t able to make it over the weekend. We just forgot to save gravy because neither of us like gravy whatsoever! Whoops!

Caramel Apple Pie

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

Can I say something that’s maybe controversial? I don’t really care for pumpkin pie. I just don’t like creamy pie filling in flaky pie crust. I’d rather have a graham cracker crust, which is why you can find pumpkin cheesecake on our Thanksgiving menu. But I almost always make two pies. (The night before, while watching Elf in my Elf shirt drinking hot chocolate out of my Elf mug — it’s tradition!)

The last few years I’ve made a caramel apple pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it’s truly one of my favourites. Even though this year I’m trying something new with a bourbon pecan recipe, I wanted to share this tried and true dessert. (And scroll down for some pie crust inspo!)


  • 6 large apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced (approx 10-12 cups total - use a variety for better flavor, such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith, or Honey Crisp)

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk

  • optional: coarse sugar for sprinkling on crust


Read all of the directions that I wrote in this post before beginning the following recipe. It will help you!

Next, make the apple filling as the dough is still chilling: Place apple slices into a very large bowl. Add sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Gently toss to combine. Set aside.

Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9x2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard.

Fill the pie crust with the apples. There are a lot of apples, but pile them tightly and very high. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the salted caramel, reserving the rest for topping.

Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).

Make the lattice crust: Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out, 12 inches diameter. Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut 16 strips 1/2 inch wide. I always use a clean measuring tape or ruler as a guide to assure the lines are straight. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. Using a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork or your fingers.

Lightly brush the lattice top with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Keeping the pie in the oven, turn the temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes. If the top of your pie is getting too brown, cover loosely with aluminium foil. The pie will be done when the caramel begins to bubble up. A small knife inserted inside should come out relatively clean.

Allow the pie to cool for 4 hours before serving. Drizzle the pie with the extra caramel sauce to serve. This apple pie is best served on the same day, but it can be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Need some more Thanksgiving ideas?

Click on the photos below to jump to the posts.