EVERY Christmas morning when I was growing up, our family would come downstairs and be met with the yeasty fragrance of Christmas rolls baking for breakfast. They were known variously as Christmas rolls or Wiebe rolls (after my maternal grandmother, who gave Mom the recipe).Mom would make the dough the night before, then awaken at 5 a.m. to shape it, let it rise, and bake it. Another reason for the before-dawn preparation: My dad was expected to deliver baskets of the rolls to several friends and neighbors before they got their own breakfasts underway. The Christmas-roll tradition continues, despite sometimes formidable odds. When my wife began the early stages of labor with our first child on Christmas morning in 1983, she insisted on making the rolls. Wesley, our firstbor n, was kind enough to delay his arrival until after she finished. FOR THE ROLLS: 4 cups of flour 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter 1/2 cup of sugar Pinch of salt (not too much or it will kill the yeast) 1 package dry yeast (1 tablespoon) 1 cup of warm milk 2 eggs
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Milk or cream to thin, if needed Chopped walnuts (optional)
Put flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until particles are pea-sized. Set aside. In another bowl, beat eggs. Heat milk, taking care not to scald it. Cool, then crumble in yeast. Make a well in middle of dry ingredients and pour in eggs and yeasty milk. Mix gently until flour is moistened and dough holds together. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. On a floured cutting board, roll pieces of dough into 6- to 9-inch-long sticks, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Roll each stick into a spiral. Place rolls on a cookie sheet and let them rise in a warm, protected area until double in size. Bake in a pre-heated 375-degree F. oven until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack, then ice them. Makes about two dozen rolls. For icing: Mix powdered sugar and softened butter in a bowl. Add milk or cream to thin, if needed. If frosting gets too soft, add sugar. Stir in vanilla. Using a pastry brush, paint tops of rolls with icing, dipping them into chopped walnuts, if desired.