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I'm on vacation, but book club reader Becky Altman is filling in for me today. Becky's Pennsylvania Sticky Rolls was chosen as one of this year's grand prize winning entries in the Write a Dear Reader Contest. When I called Becky to tell her the good news I discovered we have a lot in common: Becky loves the book clubs, we share the same May 26th birthday and we're both writers. Becky works full-time writing technical manuals and years ago published how-to Power Point books, so writing about sticky buns was a lot of fun for her. She even emailed family members and asked them to contribute their "I remember when" memories.
Congratulations, Becky and thanks for filling in for me today.
The vacationing Suzanne Beecher
Pennsylvania Sticky Rolls
My family is notorious for the number of different homemade desserts offered at special occasions. There will never be just one dessert, so deciding which one to eat is never an easy decision. Hmmm, should I have cherry pie? Strawberry shortcake? Chocolate cake? Or sticky rolls? When sticky rolls are in the line up, no one can pass them up.
Why are they called sticky rolls? The brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup on the bottom of the pan combine to make a wonderful, ooey, gooey topping when the pan is flipped over. Some people might call them cinnamon buns, but my mom leaves out this ingredient because my older brother is allergic to it.
Our family sticky roll recipe came from my grandmother, my mom's mom. We don't know where she got the recipe, but in that section of Pennsylvania, many places sell sticky buns and we think it is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition to serve them. We have them to accompany special evening meals, not for breakfast--probably because of the time it takes to let the dough rise. There never are any left over for a later snack. I have three brothers, and they used to take it upon themselves to see who could eat the most sticky rolls. They would often encourage each other to have second and third helpings of mashed potatoes and dinner rolls in hopes that would fill them up, so they couldn't eat as many sticky rolls. My youngest brother holds the record for most sticky rolls eaten in one sitting: 12. However, he has two sons who are currently in training to beat their dad's record.
Following her mother's tradition, my mom always makes the rolls in round cake pans, leaving a single sticky roll in the middle of each pan. This extra soft middle roll is highly coveted. My mom loves to tell the story about how her little brother used to lick the middle roll to ensure no one else would eat it. While my brothers don't go to this extreme, they are known to call "dibs on the middle!" Tired of disputes among her three children, my grandmother solved the problem by squeezing three small rolls into the middle.
My husband instantly became a sticky roll fan after joining the family. He prefers the edge rolls, so he doesn't compete for the precious middle; this has helped his acceptance into the family. He especially likes when my mom accidentally overcooks a batch. In fact, he requests overcooked sticky rolls for his birthday (instead of cake).
For my daughter's bat mitzvah, I put together a book with submissions from family members, offering her advice as she became an adult in the eye of the Jewish religion. My mom gave her the sticky roll recipe, with the following advice:
I think I have the key that will help you become a well-beloved woman, mother, and grandmother in the coming years. I will share with you my mother's Sticky Rolls recipe. If you can master this recipe, you will receive multiple offers of marriage and accolades from your relatives and friends. The trick is to remember to make the dough two days ahead!
My 77 year old mother doesn't cook or bake much anymore, but she still makes us sticky rolls for Christmas dinner and family get-togethers. I will carry on the tradition once she is no longer up to the task. I might cheat and make the dough in my bread machine. Or even buy frozen dough. But don't tell anyone...
To see Becky's "Pennsylvania Sticky Rolls" recipe, go to: http://www.muffinsandmayhem.com/node/5559
You don't have to be a writer to assemble recipes from your life. Visit my website: www.MuffinsandMayhem.com and create your own Cookbook of Memories. You can even email members of your family and invite them to submit stories and recipes for your Cookbook of Memories, too.--Suzanne Beecher