Friday, December 24, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Free photo - red brown decoration available in our free stock photosTomorrow is Christmas Day. I know I should be baking that "one more batch of cookies", but I'm using my time in the kitchen today to prepare for our traditional Christmas Brunch. When my daughters were young, I know they were not happy about going to church before the presents had been opened, but I theorized that it would be even harder (and more cruel) to rip them away from their toys.

We don't focus on a traditional dinner of turkey, or ham or goose. Instead, I prepare brunch dishes that can be assembled ahead of time and then placed in the oven as soon as we return home. While the gifts under the tree are being sorted out into piles, our feast is warming. Then we pile our plates, sit by the fireplace, and take turns opening our gifts. There's no need to hurry. We spend a relaxed late morning/early afternoon opening gifts, laughing, eating, and sharing time with each other.

Homemade cinnamon rolls have always been a favorite, as well as apple crisp. This year I decided to try something new. Why not combine the two?

Cinnamon Spiral Rolls
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 or 4 Granny Smith apples, shredded (enough to make 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the ingredients for the syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare the dough by combining all of the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk and mix just until all of the flour is moistened. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and kneed 8 to 10 times. Pat or roll into a 10x12-inch rectangle.

Peel, core, and grate the apples. They will release a lot of moisture, so squeeze them to remove as much excess juice as possible. Spread evenly on the dough rectangle. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Roll up, jelly-roll style, from one long end. Cut into 12 equal slices and place in a well-greased 13x9-inch baking pan.

Pour the sugar syrup over the rolls. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls begin to brown and the syrup is bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving. Can be made one day ahead and then reheated in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Makes 12 rolls.

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