At Loaves & Fishes Food Store, Christmas Is What You Bake It

Holiday traditions are on the most decadent display all over the Loaves & Fishes Food Store—and all throughout their Farm Series Cookbooks. Start your own holiday tradition with this delicious Orange Yogurt Coffee Cake (recipe below).

When Sybille van Kempen bakes her famous gingerbread cookies this Christmas—a family tradition that dates back generations—she will have a new sous chef in tow: her beloved first granddaughter, Willow.

“My youngest daughter got married last September, and she gave me my granddaughter in July,” says van Kempen. “So now I am an Oma and there is truly nothing sweeter.”

Not even those famous gingerbread cookies?

“No,” van Kempen laughs.

These cookies are just one of the many culinary traditions van Kempen inherited from her mother and grandmother and then immortalized in her Loaves & Fishes’ Farm Series Cookbooks. There are also the Swedish meatballs her mother always made for New Year’s and the stollen she would start marking right after Thanksgiving. The cookies, though, which in particular recall van Kempen’s German roots, carry a special sort of meaning.

“I even made them at my children’s school when they were growing up,” says van Kempen. “The kids would make them right on their desks. Everybody got a pile of flour and they’d make a hole for the eggs and butter and it was really great fun. They didn’t always come out beautiful-looking, like what you see in the cookbook, but when you’re in the first grade you’ll eat anything that you make yourself.”

These memories are, for van Kempen, so indelible that it is no wonder the recipes behind them found their way into her Farm Series Cookbooks.

“It just happened organically,” says van Kempen. “I sat down with Licia [ Kassim Householder, Loaves & Fishes’ executive pastry chef and co-author of Loaves & Fishes’ Farm Series Cookbooks] and we were in it, and then it just unfolded.” 

The partnership between van Kempen and Householder has proven a fruitful one—together they have penned 12 cookbooks—and the two authors immediately bonded over their shared sense of family traditions. 

“The big holiday tradition in my family has always been what we call Swedish Braid, though the recipe is listed under Swedish Cardamom Bread in the cookbook,” says Householder. “It is my maternal great-grandmother’s recipe, but my grandma got diagnosed with MS, so it was my grandpa who really made it his own. Then, from there, the tradition got passed down to my aunt. Every time my grandpa made it, it always came out amazing, but my aunt was kind of struggling with it for a while. I had just started culinary school at that point, so I started doing it with her and now, for the past 15 years, it’s been our tradition together.”

The tradition took on extra special meaning two years ago, when Householder’s daughter, Harper, first participated in the baking. 

“She absolutely loved it,” says Householder. “And for me, it was even more special. My grandpa never met my daughter and yet my daughter fully knows who my grandpa is. Even though she never met him, she knows him and that the Swedish Braid we make together is his recipe. So I think it’s just so important to continue doing it, especially with my kids. We all just want that sense of connection and to share in the memories of our families. Holiday traditions are such a beautiful part of that.”

But Householder, of course, is a professional; baking beautiful things is her job. She believes wholeheartedly, however, that keeping holiday traditions alive is something anyone can do—no culinary training required.

“I think a lot of people get very intimidated by baking; they just want everything to be perfect,” says Householder. “But one thing I’ve really learned, especially as someone who is kind of a perfectionist, is this: Ever since having children, I have realized that it doesn’t matter how something comes out, or even if it comes out. What matters is the experience of doing it together. My daughter will never remember how our cookies came out. Instead, she’s going to remember the feeling of doing it with me and spending that time together. That’s what matters to me every day, but especially at the holidays.”

So whatever you’re baking this holiday season—gingerbread, Swedish Braid, or struffoli—give yourself some grace, let the kids make a mess in the kitchen, and savor all the memories.


Start a new holiday baking tradition with this recipe from Loaves & Fishes.

Orange Yogurt Coffee Cake
Serves 8


Ingredients for the streusel:

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus more for greasing*
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups plain whole milk yogurt


Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest (optional)
  • Pinch kosher salt



  1. Combine all the streusel ingredients together in a bowl using your fingers to create a crumbly mixture. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan, tapping out the excess flour
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk together; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, and orange zest on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape the sides down. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla and slowly pour into the mixer while running on low. Beat for another 2 minutes on medium-high speed; scrape down the sides. Whisk together orange juice and yogurt. Lower speed and add in dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the yogurt mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter with a rubber spatula to ensure ingredients on the bottom are fully incorporated.
  5. Pour half the cake batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle streusel evenly on top. Pour remaining batter onto streusel. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack. Cool completely before glazing.
  6. Whisk glaze ingredients together in a bowl and immediately pour over cooled cake. Allow to set for 30 minutes before serving.