I’m one of those people that is easily transported to the past through songs, smells, or simply looking at old photographs. I can almost remember the exact feeling I had when I first smelled a particular smell or heard a certain song. This most often happens when I’m shopping and an old song will come on overhead. For instance, any time I hear the Beach Boys it reminds me of the summer that I turned 11 and my best friend and I decided to choreograph our very own moves to Surfin’ U.S.A. Hearing a song from “The Lion King” soundtrack takes me back to that horrible summer when I lost a friend in a car accident. Certain praise songs and choruses remind me of youth group trips, church events, and summer camp. Every now and then I’ll get a whiff of a perfume or cologne that will remind me of a teacher or friend from the past. (By the way, do they still make Electric Youth? You know, in the cool bottle with the pink spiral-y thing? If so, I want some.)
One smell that always takes me back is the smell of fresh out of the oven cinnamon rolls. When I was in 6th grade we lived in Coffee Creek, Montana. Population 10 (give or take a few). There was a post office, a bar, and an old gym/roller skating rink where my brother, sister, and I spent a lot of our time during the summer.
The gym had been shut down for years and had no electricity. It had a room full of old roller skates and a few doors we could prop open to give us some light. We spent hours there!
It was during our time living in Coffee Creek that I got my first paid baking job. Periodically, I would make pans full of maple walnut sticky buns and sell them at Denton Foods, the grocery store about 10 miles away. I will forever be indebted to my mom for teaching me to bake and to the store owners for allowing me that very first opportunity to sell my baked goods. That time may have very well been what ignited my passion for cooking. Over the course of the next 10 years, while making big decisions about my future, my mind always went back to my desire to cook and be a wife and a mom. I never wanted to do anything else. I am so grateful that the Lord has allowed me to be all 3: a wife, a mom, and a baker.
Below is the recipe for Maple Walnut Sticky Buns. Remember, the best way to make somebody’s day is to share!
MAPLE WALNUT STICKY BUNS (from the old Betty Crocker cookbook)
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (pecans are even better!)
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. softened butter
2/3 c. warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
2. Heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the walnuts.
3. In mixing bowl stir together 3/4 cup of the flour, the yeast, granulated sugar and salt. Add 1/3 cup butter and the warm water. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
4. Add eggs and 1/4 cup more flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes. Stir in enough more flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and satiny.
5. Roll dough to a 14 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread lightly with maple syrup and sprinkle with remaining nuts.
6. Roll up into 9-inch roll. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into 9 (1-inch) slices and arrange, cut side up, in prepared pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place about 1 1/4 hours or until light.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Then turn out on large plate to cool.
A couple of bread making tips:
*Always add less flour than what the recipe calls for. You can add more later, but it might be unnecessary. You don’t want the bread to be too heavy!
*Don’t worry about using a thermometer to get the water temperature just right. I use my wrist to determine the temp just as I would for a baby bottle. Not too hot. Not too cold.