I recently made a kettle of hot spiced cider for my Bible study group. One of the girls said, “It’s like autumn in a cup!” Too true.
Anyone can quickly put this comforting mug of deliciousness together, quickly and from scratch–no store-bought packaged mix necessary. Your own “from scratch” recipe will also be the most EXCELLENT hot cider you have ever tasted. Trust me. Twenty-six years of serving this at our Farm Grove Christmas Open House to hundreds of people confirm it. What’s the difference? A “secret” ingredient that is available in any spice display of your super market. I won’t leave you in suspense. Yes, it is bay leaf, or bay laurel. The touch of bay enhances all the other ingredients, deepening flavors. My very own bay laurel tree, now wintering in the basement, is pictured above and happy to be in the spotlight. “Smile for the camera!”
FARM GROVE HOT SPICED CIDER
This recipe can be made in a kettle on the stove top, but it is easy and convenient to do it in a 30-cup percolator.
Pour 1 gallon apple cider into percolator. In coffee basket, place 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 6 whole cloves, 2-3 whole cinnamon sticks, and 1 bay leaf. Plug in and perk. Remove basket and discard bay leaf and spices. SERVE HOT.
If made on the stove top, just bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Skim out bay leaf and spices before serving.
Fresh bay is even better in this recipe than the dried bay leaves from the super market. So if you happen to have a bay tree in your basement, definitely pluck a leaf. The subtle flavor will be even sweeter.