Happy Christmas Eve! This year is T and I's first official Christmas together since getting married. So exciting! We have spent holidays together before, but this year, we finally get to spend Christmas day together - truly something to be thankful for. The last couple of years the timing hasn't worked out, and we have had to spend Christmas many miles apart due to work schedules and travel plans not matching up.
Our first Christmas together got me thinking about holiday traditions. Looking back, I have come to the realization that I have been surrounded by holiday traditions my entire life. A typical Christmas holiday in my family included gathering with my Dad's side of the family on Christmas Eve to go to church, and then heading back to a relative's home to have a light meal with soup, sandwiches, appetizers and Christmas cookies while catching up and reminiscing about the year and what everyone has been up to.
Many people have a tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve, but in my family, we always waited until the morning after so that Santa Claus had a chance to pay a visit. I remember lying in bed as a child unable to sleep fearing that I might miss the chance to see Santa or his reindeer and sleigh flying across the night sky on Christmas Eve. One of the great memories I have of my siblings is the excitement of Christmas morning and waking each other up and wondering aloud what Santa might have brought while huddling under a blanket pretending to go back to sleep per our parent's orders and statements of fact that it was much too early for any gift opening.
On recent Christmas mornings, before opening any gifts, my family has a tradition of having brunch. Yum. Yum. Yum. Delightful scents of fresh baked cinnamon rolls, hashbrowns, coffee cake, egg casserole, bacon and fresh-brewed coffee slice through the air and I know...Christmas has arrived. I won't lie, the idea of someone else cooking breakfast for me ranks right up there with my thoughts on 75+ temperatures. Delightful.
|Recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice|
CINNAMON ROLLS | Yield: 8-12 large rolls, or 12-16 small rolls | Total Time: 3 1/2 to 4 hrs.
6 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, margarine or shortening, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract OR 1 tsp lemon zest
3 1/2 C flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 C whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 C cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 Tbsp sugar, plus 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
White fondant glaze, recipe follows
NOTE: Substitute 3 Tbsp powdered milk + 1 C water if you do not have whole milk or buttermilk.
WHITE FONDANT GLAZE
4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
6 Tbsp to 1/2 C warm milk
Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Add lemon extract. Add the milk slowly, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Only add as much is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.
Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter on medium-high speed in an stand mixer with a paddle attachment (You can also mix by hand if you do not have a stand mixer); if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, but add the water with the flour and yeast. Add in the egg and lemon extract and mix until smooth. Add the flour, yeast, and milk.
Mix on low speed until a ball of dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and increase speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 min. (12-15 min. if you are kneading by hand). You want the dough to be silky and tacky, but not sticky. Adjust the flour or water until you get this consistency. The dough should be able to stretch apart without breaking off immediately, and register at 77-81 degrees.
Oil a large bowl, and transfer the dough, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to trap the heat, and proof at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Mist the counter with spray oil, and transfer the dough to your workspace. Roll the dough with a flour-covered rolling pin into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14x12 inches long for larger buns, or 18x9 inches long for smaller buns. Be sure not to roll the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough instead of soft. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough, and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you go. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8-12 even pieces about 1 3/4 inch thick for large buns, or 12-16 pieces 1/14 inch thick for smaller buns.
Line 1 or more sheet pans with parchment paper, and place buns approximately 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic warp, and proof (let rise) at room temperature for 75-90 minutes, or until the pieces have expanded into one another and nearly doubled in size.
NOTE: You can also put the rolls in the fridge at this point for up to 2 days. Pull the pans out 3-4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cinnamon rolls on the middle oven rack for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool the buns in the pan for about 10 min. and then streak with white fondant glaze while still warm. Remove the buns from the pans, and cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.
These cinnamon rolls are absolutely delicious and sure to become a staple for a special morning treat. The addition of the lemon extract to the dough and fondant really packs the flavor and makes these cinnamon rolls oh so delicious. If you are still looking for that perfect gift idea, I would highly recommend The Bread Baker's Apprentice cookbook. T and I have learned so much from it and have enjoyed making lots of wonderful bread recipes.
What are your holiday traditions?