I come from a family with a well-established set of holiday traditions. We make cranberry bread at least once in December, we light candles and make wishes for the coming year on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning, we always have the same breakfast. It’s been this way as long as I can remember and I have absolutely no wish to change things. I value the feeling of comfort and holiday continuity that it offers.
Once the turkey is stuffed and in the oven, I fry eggs so that the whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny. My sister cooks up a packet of turkey bacon and my mom warms up the baked good. The baked good is the only place where there’s variability in this menu (what can I say, we like consistency). Sometimes there are homemade scones, other years, toasted slices of panettone. One year, I tried my hand at from-scratch bear claws. Sadly, they were not my best work.
Throughout the year, I test recipes in search of the right Christmas morning baked good. This year, I’m leaning strongly in the direction of Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. They might seem like a lot of effort, but really, they come together quickly. And as the recipe title implies, they can be almost entirely prepped the night before, meaning that you just have to sneak them into the oven on Christmas morning for a fun holiday morning treat.
And for those of you who don’t do the Christmas thing, these cinnamon rolls aren’t exclusive to December 25. They lend a great deal of joviality to any Saturday or Sunday morning brunch — another reason they’re so good for The Weekender.
Before you start rolling your dough, here are a few things you should know:
- This dough comes together most easily if you have a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook. However, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a mixer. Stir the dough up with a wooden spoon and knead it the old-fashioned way (by hand).
- This time of year, kitchens can be a drafty place. Set your dough to rise in a turned-off oven. The heat of the pilot or light bulb will provide enough warmth to get the dough to spring to life.
- When it comes time to roll the dough out into a rectangle, just do your best. No one will judge if your corners aren’t perfectly square.
- Finally, make sure you follow Alton’s instructions to use a serrated-edge knife when cutting the roll of dough into portions. Anything else will leave you with misshapen rolls.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.