Last week I shared my recipe for home-made spiced pumpkin butter. This week I’m using that same pumpkin butter to fill puffy cinnamon rolls topped with a brown butter cream cheese glaze. It is a very good use of pumpkin butter.
Easter is almost here and that means it’s time for Hot Cross Buns!
Every Thanksgiving of my childhood was spent at my grandparents’ house. We would drive up to their place on Wednesday and my Mom and Mamaw would spend the day preparing. I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen when I was young, but I could always be called upon to help Mamaw with the preparation for Thanksgiving morning sticky buns.
The buns we made were a tradition. Mamaw had clipped the recipe from a newspaper when I was around eight years old and every year from then on out I eagerly helped her assemble the sticky buns. The night before Thanksgiving I would dig out the pretty bundt pan that was used solely for this occasion; grab a packet of instant butterscotch pudding mix & dig through the freezer for two bags of frozen dinner rolls. Yep, these were cheater sticky buns–assembly only. Mamaw loved a quick & easy recipe from the newspaper. We’d read the recipe together and I’d go about layering the buttery spiced pudding mix, rolls and chopped pecans while Mamaw supervised and cheered me on as she sipped her glass of wine. The buns would sit on the kitchen counter overnight to rise. When I woke up the next morning, it was like magic seeing how those frozen rolls had risen overnight. They looked like light fluffy little clouds dotted with the caramel-y pecan goodness.
After baking and being turned out onto a plate, the mountain of sticky buns would sit on the kitchen counter where they would be picked apart and snacked on throughout the day while all the other preparations were made for our late afternoon meal. I learned much later that these buns were what most people call ‘Monkey Bread’, but I continue to label them sticky buns for the sake of nostalgia. I do not, however, continue to used pudding mix and frozen rolls. While it might be the easier way, I enjoy making yeasted baked goods and I think Mamaw would concur that the flavor and texture of these buns would be a far superior beginning to your Thanksgiving Day or really any special day for that matter.
Over the past 7 years Sam and I have crafted our own Thanksgiving celebrations with different friends, around different tables, in different states & even countries. Some years it’s been just the two of us, others we’ve hosted or we’ve spent the holiday at a friend’s place. As a result we’ve not really settled on any of our own traditions but embraced other’s tables and a mixed collaboration which brings me a lot of joy. I’ve loved every year and all of the traditions we’ve been able to take part in.
This year our Thanksgiving looked different yet again. Sam had a conference stateside in the days leading up to the holiday, so we took the opportunity to visit his side of the family. The day consisted of friends and family, catching up with everyone, and every conceivable kind of Thanksgiving food. The day was special in many ways, not least of all that it was the first Thanksgiving in years that either of us have spent with family.
It was the first time since I started helping with the sticky buns at the age of eight that I’ve not had something to contribute–a pie, a galette, green bean casserole, something! It felt strange and foreign coming to the Thanksgiving table empty handed but I was welcome nonetheless by gracious hosts with warm hearts.
We returned to our home in Manchester a few days after all the celebration. It had been a long time since I’d made sticky buns. The tradition fell away as Mamaw aged. The holiday spirit lingered with me this year and I felt like I needed this recipe. I needed the reminder of little traditions and memories from the past to come alongside all of the new ones I’ve picked up. I didn’t make them for Thanksgiving morning, but the smell of the sticky buns baking in my kitchen days after the holiday transported me back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood in the kitchen with Mamaw. I think that this recipe will be something I go back to, not only on Thanksgiving, but for other special occasions. They may even make a debut at Christmas. They’d be perfect for a brunch-y celebration situation!
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