Top Secret

Sunday my mom and I decided to get our Christmas baking on, because in our family Christmas does not conjure up memories of Christmas movies or Santa, it brings back the taste of buttery sweet baking made from recipes passed down from the Oma’s and Grandma’s of Christmas past.  So we hauled out our bucket of many pounds of butter and set to work.  One recipe we pulled out of the stack was written on a small recipe card {for all you modern young people let me explain, recipes used to be written on small cards and kept in a little recipe box.  Actually.  On paper.  When you wanted to cook something you opened the box and manually flipped through the box and found a recipe.  You didn’t just search your favourite food bloggers site like you do now}.  The recipe was labelled “Bolussen” meaning cinnamon twist.  My mom explained that when my Grandmother was a young woman {I almost wrote “my age” and then realized I am not 23 any more… harsh realities people} and her and my Grandfather were planning their move to Canada from Holland after only 6 weeks of marriage.

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Great Grandma Dubbeldam in 1951

She went to the local baker and asked him for his Bolussen recipe and he reluctantly agreed to share it with her with the strict instructions that she could take it to Canada and use it there, but under no circumstances let anyone back in Holland know that she had the recipe. Bolusen recipe.jpg

And there is nothing that piques my interest like a top secret recipe stowed away with the young heroine on her journey across oceans to a new life in a strange land, grasping the hand of her love and looking forward to her new future.  I am not sure if it was as romantic as all of that, but I can imagine it was a thrill.  Moving to another continent in those days meant you did not see or hear from family the way we do now.  She did not see any family from back home for 15 years, and only communicated by letters written once a week.  And telegrams sent to announce new babies being born.  That would kill me.  My mom went away for an entire week last month and I almost didn’t survive.  Maybe I have issues… But I’m not the only one.  Yesterday little Chef was sitting in his car seat chanting “Grandma, Papa, Grandma, Papa, Grandma, Papa!” over and over while clapping enthusiastically.

So we decided to bake the mysterious Bolussen and hold up the ancient traditions of the unnamed baker back in the mother country.  Of course they turned out perfect.  There was a little over the shoulder coaching from my mom who somehow forgets when we are baking that I did indeed go to culinary school and work in more than a handful of restaurants.  But to her credit she is always right and a hell of a lot more practical and clever than most of my instructors were.  We let Little Chef help and his favourite part was sprinkling the cinnamon sugar all over the dough, and the counter, and himself, and the floor. Baking with Grandma.jpg

A few weeks ago we visited my Grandma and he tried to stick his fingers in the sugar bowl and she said to him “Dat had ye maar gerdroomt jonjetje!” meaning “In your dreams little boy!”.  This time no one got heck in Dutch for fingers in the sugar.

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I will share a version of the top secret recipe with you.  But full disclosure I have changed one thing in the recipe to preserve the top secret element.  Also if this gets back to Grandma I will be getting a very scolding phone call shortly.  If you want the real recipe you better show up for tea at Grandmas and talk sweet to her.  She may go for it.

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Bolusen (Cinnamon twists)

4 cup flour

1 pinch salt

1 cup soft butter

Zest from one lemon

1.5 cups warm milk

1 tablespoon yeast

Cinnamon and sugar mixture (1:1)

Add yeast to warm milk and let sit for 2 minutes.  Add yeast mixture to all other ingredients and knead until silky smooth.  Let stand covered in a warm spot for 1.5 hours or until doubled.  Punch down dough and divide in to 16 equal pieces.  Roll each piece in to a long “snake” and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.  Twist and wind the dough in to circular roll and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Let rise for 45 minutes and bake at 350 F for 10 – 15 minutes until the bottoms of each bolusen have a slightly brown and crispy appearance.  Serve with coffee or tea.

-Stephanie Parker

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