A Belated Christmas Gift

by Maile on April 6, 2011

The other recipe I want to share with you from my winter in trenches requires a bit of a rewind on the holiday calendar. I know that Easter is fast approaching and thoughts of Christmas are far (and for some, thankfully) behind us, but this recipe was birthed out of that season. Just hang with me here because the recipe at the end of it is so so so worth it.

Christmas has always been, and I presume always will be, my favorite holiday. And there is even more to love about Christmas now that I have children of my own: the light footfalls approaching our bed early on Christmas morning, coming to announce that Santa came and the presents are waiting; the bridled eagerness as we read the nativity story, their sleepy eyes scanning each gift, trying to determine which ones are theirs; the spray of shredded wrapping paper as the treasures are revealed, accompanied by a near scream of “Mama, look what I got!” Children make Christmas.

But presents to yours truly certainly don’t put a damper on the occasion. There is still a bit of a kid nestled inside this grown up body. And while my husband hasn’t had a stellar record for gift-giving in the past, he completely outdid himself this past Christmas and it came in two words: immersion blender. For some this may seem a bit anti-climactic, others may utter a hearty “right on!” Either way, let me assure you that I was more than pleased and immediately began looking for things to puree.
However, my searching efforts came to a quick halt as soon as the Christmas morning munchies mustered their first attack. Perhaps I am strange in this, but hunger seems all the more intensified on Christmas morning. Maybe it’s all that adrenaline pumping and present unwrapping, but by about 8:15am I was ready to tuck into a 20 oz. steak or 6 egg omelette. I went the sweet route instead and made a batch of these delectable cinnamon rolls, which were received with rousing cheers from the romping, ravenous natives as they abandoned their new toys and rushed the breakfast table. Hence, a Christmas morning tradition was born in the Smucker household.

Oh, and one more thing…Pillsbury, eat your heart out—you couldn’t touch these babies with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole (had to do a shout out to “The Grinch”).

(So I’ve decided to do a sneaky little trick that several of you have been urging me to do. I’ve photographed each step in the prep of these rolls. Please, don’t expect this kind of attention to detail with each recipe from here on out. In fact, don’t ever expect it again and then you might be pleasantly surprised again one day. Kind of like Christmas morning.)

Mai’s Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ c. buttermilk
¼ c. vegetable oil
6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
½ c. white sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a glass measuring jug, combine buttermilk and oil.

Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir just till everything is nice and wet. Don’t overmix here or you won’t have the wonderfully flaky texture that makes my heart flutter right now just thinking about it. Turn your dough onto a generously floured surface and flour your rolling pin as well.

Gently pat the dough into a rectangle and start rolling until you’ve got a 15×8 inch rectangle.

Spread your softened butter over the entire surface of the dough except for about a ½ inch border around the edge. In a small dish, combine sugars and cinnamon. Sprinkle this concoction evenly over the butter.

Then roll up the dough, starting with the long side, giving yourself a long log. Pinch the seam. Then cut off 1 ½ inch slices.

Place them cut side down in your greased pan. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Eat them about 10 minutes after you take them out of the oven: not too hot to scald your tongue with the molten hot sugar filling but still warm and flaky and sublimely delicious. It is my belief that these rolls need no obnoxious addition otherwise known as icing. But if you daren’t dream of eating a cinnamon roll without drizzled sugar on top, then by all means whisk up some powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla to satisfy your obscene sweet tooth. And a very Merry and very belated Christmas to you all!

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