Monday, December 22, 2008

Nut Rolls

One of the holiday foods that I came to count on growing up was nut rolls.  My mom and "aunt" (Mom's best friend since college) would get together each year to make nut rolls while us kids played.  They also made cookies (I won't attempt the name for I am sure I will spell it wrong, but if I am allowed to post it, I will).  I eventually started to help on this baking day, but usually with the cookies, a job that I readily accepted.  A few years ago my sister and I figured we needed to learn how to carry on this tradition.  We asked Mom for the recipe and made nut rolls on our own for the first time.  I have not made them since because Mom usually makes sure to bring one with her each year (probably fearful she will not get in the door without one).  However, Mom's visit was early this year.  Therefore, today we will be making our own nut rolls.  Christmas breakfast has had its changes throughout the years, but nut rolls are a staple and will remain one as long as I can continue the tradition.  Mom actually has a list of people that she gifts them to every year and I know that they have come to anticipate this as I have.  Incidentally, my mom and aunt are baking their nut rolls today as well.  We may not be together in person, but we are baking together nonetheless.  Thanks for the tradition!
Nut Rolls
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup soft butter or margarin
6 cups flour
Pour water into bowl (rinse bowl with hot water).  Sprinkle yeast over water and dissolve.  Add sugar and salt.  Add egg, butter and 3 cups flour.  Beat with mixer about 2 minutes or till smooth.  Add another cup of flour gradually while beating.  Knead in last 2 cups flour - about 5-10 minutes - until not sticky.  Let raise 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until double in size.  After raised, punch down, divide into 6 sections.  Roll each one out into a rectangle about the size of a cookie sheet (a couple of inches shorter than the longest side).
2 lbs English walnuts - ground very fine
12 oz granulated sugar
12 oz brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 stick melted butter or margarine
Enough milk to get to spreading consistency (1/3 - 1/2 cup)
Mix together.  Divide into 6 parts and spread on each section of dough and roll.  Let raise 1 1/2 hours or until double in bulk.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until brown on top.  Brush with butter on top.  Cool.
Personal Notes:
  • How important is this tradition in our house?  Mixers are purchased for the ability to handle kneeding the dough.  Personally I have a kickin' 5 quart Kitchen Aid Mixer that I absolutely love.  If you want to want a good upper-body workout though, you can always do it by hand (smile).
  • My mom shared this with a friend who does half a batch and uses her bread machine's dough cycle for the dough.
  • These freeze well for a month or two, so if you are good at planning ahead this is an option.
If you decide to try these, I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.  Merry Christmas!
Also on the Christmas breakfast menu is a tradition that we started a few years ago.  It is a fruit salad made from locally grown fruit that I either pick myself or purchase at a farmer's market and then freeze to enjoy on Christmas morning.  It is a delicious reminder of the crops of the past year and a preview of what lies ahead after the cold of winter.

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