When I was young, my Nana (grandmother) worked in a clothing factory as so many other women did in The Coal Region.
One day she came home and was carrying something other than a plethora of fibers stuck to her clothes and embedded in her ankle-high white socks — a cookbook.
Seems a co-worker had taken orders for a church/community cookbook, Nana had ordered one and it had been delivered that day.
i often saw my Nana open that cookbook when getting ready to prepare something for what was sure to be a delightful experience for the taste buds, but otherwise paid it no particular attention — until she passed away in 1975 and I was going through some household items along with my Mom (her daughter).
The cookbook was in a pile of papers, Mom pulled it out and set it aside. Later that evening, I picked it up and started paging through. The sense of her loss was too strong to continue; the memories broke my heart rather than soothed it, so the cookbook went back on a shelf in the corner of the old Coal Region kitchen.
One day, my Pop was waxing nostalgic for something Nana used to make and I thought I remembered her opening that book when she made it. Sure enough, I found the recipe that I was looking for.
From that day on, I started turning to that cookbook for many dishes. Over the years, it became an absolute favorite and shows it; it is so worn, torn, stained, and crumpled that I started putting every recipe in it into electronic format because I fear that beloved book does not have much life left in it on the shelf.
This was easier in theory than in reality because there are many pages stuck together that, when peeled apart, obliterated the print. Luckily, I am familiar with those affected recipes and it was easily noted as to the quantity or directions.
My favorite cookbook is so banged up, the front cover and several “ad sponsor” pages following it are gone; completely lost forever. But that book has served me well through the years and yielded up some of my favorite recipes — ones that I turn to time and time again, like this one for “Cinnamon Sticky Buns” attributed to “Mrs. R. Fisher”.
My Pop was crazy about these. Because the recipe made 3 – 9 inch round pans, some lucky friend, neighbor, or family member always got gifted a pan (we loved them, but three of us could not handle that many).
These are great topped to your preference; make them with just the “sticky” on top or with added nuts or raisins (or both!). Personally, I love them loaded with pecans.
Sticky buns are found throughout The Coal Region, often served at diners, available at farmers’ markets, bakeries, and road-side stands nestled in among other farm-baked goodies.
What is more comforting than a warm soft, rich yeast-based roll, swirled with a layer of cinnamon sugar throughout, and topped with ooey-gooey, finger-licking goodness? You can pop one in the microwave the next day after baking to make them taste like they are fresh from the oven (if they last to the next day!)
So thank you Nana and Mrs. R. Fisher for the memories and the cookbook I guard with my life!
Cinnamon Sticky BunsCuisine: Coal Region, PA DutchDifficulty: Intermediate
Rich yeast rolls, swirled with cinnamon sugar and topped with rich, gooey glaze.
2 cups scalded milk
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, cut into pieces
6 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons unsulphured molasses
3 Tablespoons water
2 1/4 cups dark or light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter or margarine
- Cinnamon sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Raisins and/or chopped or halved walnuts or pecans to taste
- In a 1 cup measuring cup, allow 1/2 cup of the scalded milk to come to lukewarm (105 to 110F degrees) then add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Stir and let stand until the mixture froths to the top of the cup
- Place butter, sugar, and salt into a large bowl and add the remainder of the warm milk letting it stand until the butter melts. Add the yeast mixture and the flour.
- Mix well, then cover and let set in a warm place for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.
- Preparing the syrup
- Grease 3 – 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.
- In saucepan, mix then heat the syrup ingredients until it boils,
- Pour the syrup, divided evenly, into the prepared pans.
- Sprinkle with raisins or chopped nuts, if using, as desired.Set aside.
- Cinnamon sugar
- In a small bowl, stir together the 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon until well blended. Set aside.
- Divide the dough into three portions. Roll each into a rectangle between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Sprinkle with an even layer of cinnamon sugar to within 1 inch of the edge of one long side. You may not use all the cinnamon sugar, it depends on the thickness of the layer you sprinkle on.
- Roll up the dough like a jellyroll, starting with one long edge. Place the roll seam-side down. With a sharp serrated knife, slice the roll into 9 even slices, place the slices in one of the prepared pans. Repeat the process with the other two pieces of dough.
- Let rise in the pans until double, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Near the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375F degrees.
- Bake the rolls for about 20 to 22 minutes. Remove and allow to set 2 or 3 minutes, then invert the pans onto platters. “You may need to scoop some of the topping out onto the buns that remained in the pans.
- Adapted from a recipe from Mrs. R. Fisher