Eliza’s Cinnamon Buns
A code women use to get together and drink large amounts of alcohol, especially margaritas. It makes their husbands, boyfriends, and other friends think they are doing something smart.
Girl 1: I’m so glad we have book club tonight. I’ve had a crappy-ass day.
Girl 2: Yep, me too. I’ll meet you at the bar at 6.
This description from UrbanDictionary.com made me chuckle. Although I have only been in one book club (my current one) and have not been a member for that long, I have to admit I found the description somewhat accurate.
Though our book club is small in number, it looms large in personality. And talent. One of our own, Ashley Sweeney, is about to have her first book published.
In our book club, Ashley is one of those members who is actually as avid a reader as she is a wine drinker. (And, let’s be honest, you cannot say that about all book club members.) While my tenure as a book club member is short, I have witnessed (and participated in) many club gatherings where books were barely discussed but good food and lots of wine were shared. Purpose, in this case reading, gives the monthly meetings a reason but not necessarily an agenda.
I must say, having a bona fide author as one of our own has escalated our club’s purpose and credibility. We all received an advanced copy of Eliza Waite: A Novel, which arrived hand-delivered to our doorsteps tied with a ribbon, that we read and reviewed as a club. If you ever get a chance to do a book review, WITH THE AUTHOR, do it. What a thrill it was to be taken behind the scenes of how the story came together, the years of research Ashley did to ensure its authenticity, and the highs and lows of finding a publisher.
Baking was Eliza’s passion, and Ashley weaves Eliza’s recipes throughout the story. Ashley found the majority of the 33 recipes in an old newspaper file from the 1880’s. Prior to the book even going to publication Ashley called on us, and several other friends, to test all of the recipes in the book. We were asked to follow the recipes as they were provided, which is as they would have been made in the 1880’s. Translation: No KitchenAid mixers allowed. (We were permitted to use our ovens or stoves.)
I volunteered to test Eliza’s Cinnamon Buns. While several testers did things like foregoing the use of oven mitts or rubber spatulas, my commitment to authenticity was simply to use a teacup for measuring, as the recipe called for. With Ashley’s permission, the recipe is provided below.
And, now, the excitement around here is building as the book is about to hit the stores. And I can tell you our little club has been waiting for this day like a flock of hens waiting for the new chick to be born.
It seems like a perfect expansion of the book club “read and share” principle would be to not only read Eliza Waite: A Novel as a club, but to also choose recipes from the book to make and enjoy/review as a group. Then all you’ll need to add is the wine.
To read a full synopsis of Eliza Waite, or to order, please click here.
ELIZA’S CINNAMON BUNS
(Recipe used with permission.)
Dissolve three tablespoonfuls yeast and one teaspoonful sugar in one teacup of lukewarm tap water.
Let mixture sit in a warm place until it bubbles up.
In very large mixing bowl, beat two eggs well, then stir in one teacup sugar, pinch of salt, one generous teacup shortening, and three teacups warm water, then mix well and set aside.
Measure twelve teacups flour by lightly spooning into the teacup and leveling off with a knife.
Add yeast mixture to the egg/shortening mixture and mix well.
Add ten teacups flour one teacup at a time mixing with a large wooden spoon until dough is no longer sticky. Add up to two more teacups of flour if the dough seems too sticky.
Cover bowl with damp kitchen towel, let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, then transfer to floured surface and knead lightly.
Wipe out the large bowl and grease it with butter, then form dough into a ball and put into greased bowl and turn dough over once.
Cover bowl loosely and let rise again.
On a floured surface, roll dough out in the shape of a rectangle approximately ten inches by fourteen inches, and one-quarter inch thick.
Brush melted butter evenly over the surface of dough.
Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over the melted butter, then sprinkle a generous amount of ground cinnamon in an even layer over the sugar.
Starting with one of the long sides of the rectangles, tightly roll dough up jelly-roll fashion to form a long “snake.” Cut roll crosswise into one-inch pieces.
Place the pieces cut side up very close together in four buttered baking pans. Cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Bake until golden brown.
Makes sixty buns. A half recipe yields thirty buns, and halving does not compromise the recipe.
Prepare icing by mixing confectioners sugar with melted butter, cream, and vanilla until smooth. Top buns with icing and serve warm.