For as long as I can remember I have been bewitched by the magic of Christmas. While some haters out there may say this holiday has become all about the “things”, I couldn’t disagree more. Now I will concede there definitely is a consumer aspect to the whole thing, and that seeing Christmas displays popping up in dog days of August is a bit much (let’s celebrate our holidays in order, please), but with that stripped away, just the chance to be with my family and partaking in the traditions that I have done since I was small is absolutely unbeatable. Like the wise old Ginch once puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore “maybe perhaps Christmas means a little bit more“.
Christmas Eve is the pinnacle of my excitement. I don’t care what anyone says, there is a shift in the air when the sun goes down on December 24th. While the collective power of millions of excited children the world over may have something to do with it, for me it is the warm feeling that comes with a few libations and a little carol singing at the local pub, followed by the hauntingly beautiful voices of Kings College Choir that flow through the speakers when we get home. Its tradition.
Traditions may seem like a bit of a nuisance, especially in our ever increasingly hectic world but their importance is paramount. Traditions provide people with a source of identity, and help tell as story about a family (any takers what my background is with a pub and King College Choir in the mix?). Families who partake in certain traditions report a stronger bond as the tradition, whatever it may be, is something unique and special to them. Almost like an exclusive club that outsiders just aren’t privy too. For kids, traditions help to create positive childhood memories that make for happier kids that grow into more generous adults, who are less prone to feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
Food is one of the best ways to create a tradition, as recipes are easily passed down through generations, building links to the past while helping to shape the values of the future. Plus the smell. Isn’t it amazing how a certain scent can transport you back to a distant time? Your mom’s cookies baking, chestnuts roasting, the freshness of pine. You probably are somewhere else right now, am I right? Cooking together also allows for some quality time sans modern devices (it is after all hard to text with fingers full of batter), and provides just the right environment for some much needed conversation. Setting the scene for a traditional meal creates the perfect backdrop for instilling a sense of family morals, values and cultivating emotional intelligence for the young.
Now while passing down traditions is important, it should be noted that creating new ones has its place as well. Families are malleable and with new additions, like through marriage or the birth of a new little one, sometimes you just need to adapt. With the hopes of creating a new tradition with my new husband I thought I would pay homage to our respective Christmas breakfasts; his cinnamon buns, mine straight up chocolate. A proper breakfast didn’t stand a chance with a fresh from the UK Selection Box in my hot little hands. Chocolate Swirl Buns I hope will bridge our differences.
Here’s to celebrating traditions, creating new ones, and spending time with the ones you love.
Have yourself the most merriest of Christmases!
Chocolate Swirl Cinnamon Buns
2 cups spelt flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
Zest of one orange
1/2 cup icing sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 dash vanilla
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- For dough sift together dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Add coconut oil, and mix with hands until it resembles little pebbles.
- Add apple sauce and form dough into a ball.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Continue to need for a few minutes. Then roll out into a rectangle about 6″ x 18″.
- In a small bowl combine sugar and cocoa. Smear dough with melted butter. Then sprinkle with sugar/cocoa mixture, chocolate chips, cranberries, pistachios and orange zest.
- Starting at the short end roll dough into a long log. Using a sharp knife section into 6 rolls.Transfer rolls to a greased pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- For the icing, whisk together icing sugar, milk and vanilla. Top buns with icing before serving.