Posts Tagged christmas

Christmas Traditions – Grandmother Kroener’s Rolls

Rolls 2

The most anticipated dish on my family's Christmas table. No, really.

I can’t really believe that it’s Christmas Eve – this holiday season has gone so quickly that it’s like it barely happened at all. The DC snow storm definitely put a damper on my Christmas shopping, so I’ve been spending today madly running around trying to get all my shopping done. But it actually feels nice to be out doing errands – I spent a total of 8 hours on planes yesterday, and it feels so good to move around.

I don’t have a lot of time to write (and my parents don’t have WiFi, which is a challenge for a blogger and Internet addict like myself), but I wanted to leave you with one final post before Christmas. It’s a family recipe and one of our most sacred Christmas traditions. It’s a recipe for rolls.

These rolls have a very special place on our holiday table. The recipe was passed down from my father’s grandmother, to his mother, to my mother, and now I’m giving it to you. My mother only makes them three times a year – for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Because my mother saved them for special occasions, the rolls took on a rather mystical quality in our household. When we were little, my siblings and I talked about “the rolls” with the same awe and reverence that we talked about Santa Clause.

And it’s no wonder, because the rolls are addictive. The texture is light and bready, and the yeasty dough is just a little sweet. The salt in the dough gives them a savory kick, which is heightened when they’re spread with butter. For a bread lover like myself, the sweet/savory/yeasty flavors and soft texture is irresistible. My standard Thanksgiving meal growing up was a piece of turkey, a little stuffing, and seven or eight rolls.

It goes without saying that I’m super excited to eat the rolls tomorrow.  And I know that, no matter where I am, they’ll always have a place on my Christmas table. Maybe now they’ll also have a place on yours.

Merry Christmas!

Rolls 1

Rolls, in process.

Recipe: Grandmother Kroener’s Refrigerator Rolls


Comments (2)

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Christmas Cupcakes

Can it really be Christmas without gingerbread cupcakes? I think not!

To me, it doesn’t really feel like the holidays until I’ve baked a batch of gingerbread cookies. I’ve been making them for years and have always been drawn to their sweet, spicy flavors. I also love the history of gingerbread, which dates back to the Middle Ages when women presented spiced cakes to knights before tournaments.

This year I wanted to translate my love of gingerbread into cupcake form for a friend’s holiday party. But I was slightly hesitant – while I love gingerbread cookies, I haven’t been as big a fan of gingerbread cake. Maybe it’s that I love the cookie’s texture too much; a well-baked gingerbread cookie should be slightly crisp on the outside, but a little soft on the inside. Somehow the spice combination seems too rich and dark for a cake.

Still, I was pretty pleased with this recipe that I found on Epicurious. But those with hot ovens, be warned – I actually burnt the first batch of these. I’ve found that some recipes can stand up to my hot oven rather well, but these were a bit too delicate the first time round.

I actually really liked the lemon-cream cheese frosting that this recipe calls for, but I’m not sure how well the lemon paired with the gingerbread. If I were to make them again I think I would do regular cream cheese frosting. But for those of you looking for a light lemony icing, I highly recommend this recipe (note: I left out the crystallized ginger, which was just too fancy for my taste. I opted for M&Ms instead).

Christmas Cupcakes 3

Another shot of the cupcakes. I decorated them with Christmas M&Ms.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
Recipe from Epicurious.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon baking soda

Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt. In another bowl cream 1/2 stick of the butter, add the granulated sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth. In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with 1/2 cup boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (The cupcakes will be flat or slightly indented on top.) Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.

Lemon Cream-Cheese Frosting
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice and chill the frosting for 30 minutes. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top each cupcake with some of the crystallized ginger.

Christmas cupcake 2

Merry Christmas!

Comments (6)

Gingerbread Houses at the House of Sweden!

Empire State Building

It's not a gingerbread house, it's a gingerbread Empire State Building!

It’s officially the holiday season, and I thought I’d bring you some holiday cheer with, what else, gingerbread houses!

Wonktheplank and I visited the Swedish Embassy’s Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the House of Sweden last Saturday, which featured beautiful decorations, crafts, and food. But I was really there because of the gingerbread house contest—I want to make my own gingerbread house this year, and wanted to get some inspiration.

While I was there, I was lucky enough to talk to six and half year-old Nils, who made the stunning Empire State Building gingerbread house pictured above (with a little help from his mom).

Niels with House

Nils, with his entry, a gingerbread Empire State Building.

Nils told me that he decided on the Empire State Building because his family recently took a trip to New York, where they got to see the real Empire State Building. When his mother, who works at the embassy, heard about the contest, it seemed like a natural fit. I couldn’t agree more and I think they did a great job.

I also got to speak with the winner of the contest, Karin Wheedon, who created a gingerbread Noah’s Arc. I loved her entry, especially the blue waves in the front and the pairs of animals walking up the ramp. 

Gingerbread Arc

The winning gingerbread house was actually an arc.

Karin is an accomplished gingerbread architect; she makes a gingerbread house every year with her kids for Christmas, and her creations have included a gingerbread castle, a gingerbread igloo, and even a gingerbread train. Part of her inspiration for the arc was her plethora animal cookie cutters; she designed the template herself.

Gingebread House Winner

Karin Weedon wins first prize in the gingerbread house contest.

While I didn’t get to speak with the other two contestants, I certainly liked their entries. One of the houses had a rainbow candy roof, complete with powdered sugar snow, which I thought was a nice touch.

Gingerbread - Rainbow House

A rainbow gingerbread house.

I liked the landscaping on the final entry, especially the gingerbread trees.

Gingerbread House

A gingerbread house built for two.

I was definitely glad I went to the baazar, as I got some good ideas for my own gingerbread house, and got to be around some holiday cheer. We even walked through the snow (well, the snow flurries) on our way back to Georgetown, which was very festive and a perfect way to end the evening.

Snow at House of Sweden

You can barely see the snow on the boardwalk, but it felt very festive and Christmas-y at the time.

Comments (4)