If you're like most people, you probably associate holidays with some particular yummy dish. That is certainly the case with me, and each holiday features a different, but cherished family recipe.
For example, when I think of Thanksgiving, it's my mom's stuffing that comes to mind, the best in the world - as far as I'm concerned anyway. Christmas is all about mom's Christmas cookie platters, homemade fried chicken fingers and cheesecake. Since I was married over 15 years ago, it also became about my mother in law's peach kuchen and gumdrop cookies - Christmas legends on my husband's side of the family. Easter always features ham and my dad's German potato salad, mmm! I can taste it now. The days immediately following Easter also mean homemade split pea soup, featuring the ham bone from that wonderful meal. We celebrate independence day by hosting a big cookout for the family that includes everything from brats and burgers to ice cream and brownies.
Yeah, there are quite a few good cooks in my family. Now, I must tell you, that while I prepare a few dishes pretty well, I have many miles to go before I could ever hope to attain to the status that other family members have achieved. However, when it comes to the dessert side of the meal, I'm not half bad. In fact, there is one recipe in my personal library that has become a "must have" at Thanksgiving. Before I tell you about it, allow me to provide you with a little background.
My husband comes from a family of campers, and so for him, summer memories include swimming at the lake, fishing, and s'mores around the campfire. I am NOT a camper. I could go into more detail, but that would be way too lengthy - maybe that could be a topic for a different post sometime. Anyway, as a young bride, I decided to give it a go, and we purchased a pop up trailer. It was during those weekends of camping with my in law's that we were introduced to a lovely restaurant just beside the Rock river in northwestern Illinois. Now, the whole meal is always wonderful, but it's the very last part of the meal that makes you want to jump up and down clapping.
Orange rolls, fresh and warm from the oven. Orange rolls, dripping with thick, sweet icing. Rolls so yummy that you carried the one remaining treat home as if it were made of gold, that is, if you were lucky enough to have the privilege of claiming the last one. These were one of the few aspects of camping that I found enjoyable.
Well, one day I came across a recipe for... yes...orange rolls! They looked just as delightful, right down to the icing. I decided to try making them for Thanksgiving. I didn't mention that I was bringing them, just in case things didn't work out. Well... they were a huge hit! My mother in law even pronounced them BETTER than the ones at the restaurant. The ultimate compliment!
Well, I count it a privilege to have contributed to our family's holiday traditions. It is my hope that as my own children grow up, this will be one of the recipes that they will not only look forward to eating, but also one that will remind them of warmth and happy family gatherings. As we move into this years' holiday season, I pray that your own family celebrations will be just as sweet!
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water mixed with a pinch of sugar
1 cup scalded milk, cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, a little more for dusting
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons orange juice
In a medium bowl, sprinkle yeast over sugar water-let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, half the zest, and shortening. Slowly add flour, mixing until shiny and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. Coat bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Filling: In a small bowl, mix remaining zest, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, and butter. Set aside. On a well floured work surface, gently knead dough 3 to 4 times to release air pockets. Roll out dough to an 18 x 14 inch rectangle, dusting with flour as needed. Brush about 1/3 of the filling ove half of rectangle (9 x 14 inch ), fold other half over to enclose, bringing the 14 inch sides together. Brush entire top with another 1/3 of filling, and fold again to enclose, this time bringing the two 9 inch sides together. Let rest about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough again, this time to a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush half ( 8 x 10 inch ) with remaining filling, and fold other half over, bringing the two 10 inch sides together. Cut into 20 small squares ( about 2 inches ). Coat two 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray. Place squares in tins, with exposed cut layers facing up. Let rise until almost doubled in size, 12 to 15 minutes.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest in tins 1 minute. Transfer rolls to cooling rack.
Make a thick icing by whisking together orange juice and remaining 2 cups confectioners' sugar. Drizzle over cooled rolls.