Christmas eve here means roll making time. In keeping with a tradition of my dad’s, we come together in the kitchen, the Better Half, First Child, Second Child, and I (we got started a bit–coughcoughlate–this year) to make pan after pan (10 this time) of homemade cinnamon rolls, then pack them up, unbaked, with instructions for baking on Christmas morning.
As they’re done, we stash them in a cool place, like the mud room or the back porch, so they don’t rise too much (two days ago we were having single digit temps, but today it was unseasonably warm, so we were looking for patches of snow in which to chill them–our little fridge won’t ever hold 10 pans of rolls at once). When they’re all done, we dust off the flour, put on our holiday duds (that would be clean jeans), and head off in the car to make deliveries, stopping here and there to visit as time allows, which it didn’t much this time, since our final stop was at a party to which we were also bringing some dinner contributions, so we were really flying.
I keep thinking that they’re all going to say, “Oh, my god, here they come with those damned rolls again,” but as no one has said it out loud, we keep doing it.
Dad and I started making bread about 35 years ago, inspired by a how-to article I showed him in one of my Seventeen magazines (I told you it was a long time ago) and there was no turning back. Over the years we swapped bread books, recipes, tools, and techniques, though we had very differing baking styles. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants baker, and Dad was always very precise. If he’d ever come across a recipe that said “Add 72 raisins,” then by god he’d have counted those raisins. I’d have just chucked in a handful, or maybe changed it to dried cherries or something.
Dad’s no longer with us, but I always think of him with special delight on Christmas eve, remembering how happy his baking and his visits made his friends, and hope that one of these days when they’re on their own our kids will call as Christmas draws near to say, “Hey, I was thinking . . . could you send me Grandad’s cinnamon roll recipe?”
Man, it smells good in here.