Sunday, December 25

Day 25: Merry Christmas -- the origin of the tree, plus a gift from Lisa Porter -- homemade orange glazed cinnamon rolls

Merry Christmas everyone!

Today ends this 25-day Countdown to Christmas festival.  It was so much fun to think about an inspiration each and every day of December leading up to this special event.
Let's end with some tidbits about
the origins of the Christmas Tree - 
Miles got me thinking about Christmas trees when he asked me where they came from.  Funny how kids can do that to you, and their inquisitive nature can snap you out of your routine and start to question exactly what your doing.  Seems an understandable question to ask why the heck we drag a tree into our home every year, string lights all over it and place wrapped gifts underneath it.  So, together we
"Googled" the origins of the Christmas tree and this is what we came up with from Wikipedia...

"The custom of erecting a decorated Christmas tree can be historically traced back at least as far as 15th century Livonia and 16th century Northern Germany. According to the first documented uses of a Christmas tree in Estonia, in 1441, 1442, and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays[clarification needed] in their brotherhood house in Reval (now Tallinn). At the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays,[clarification needed] the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square where the members of the brotherhood danced around it.[9] In 1584, the pastor and chronicler Balthasar Russow wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated spruce at the market square where the young men “went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”
A Christmas tree for German soldiers in a temporary hospital in 1871In the German Middle Ages, mystery plays at Christmas time within churches often featured an evergreen "Paradise tree" from which an apple was plucked. The first evidence of Christmas trees outside of a church is of the 16th century, with trees in guild halls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. (A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers" was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day.) Soon after, they are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. In the 18th century they begin to be adorned with candles, which were expensive items. Only in the 19th century did they come into use more widely, often in schools and inns before they appeared in homes. A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the 1870-1871 war. Only at the turn of the century did Christmas trees again appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.

The modern Christmas tree . . . originated in western Germany. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a fir tree hung with apples (paradise tree) representing the Garden of Eden. The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition, the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes. Candles, too, were often added as the symbol of Christ. In the same room, during the Christmas season, was the Christmas pyramid, a triangular construction of wood, with shelves to hold Christmas figurines, decorated with evergreens, candles, and a star. By the 16th century, the Christmas pyramid and paradise tree had merged, becoming the Christmas tree"
- Wikipedia description

And, now some inspiration from my bloggy friend Lisa Porter

 photo courtesy from Lisa Porter Collection -- merry merry!

It's a busy day today, so I made these delicious homemade
orange glazed cinnamon rolls for my family to start our morning.  My friend Lisa Porter sent these over last Christmas for my bloggy trading party, and now I have adopted them into my Christmas morning tradition.  Lisa pens a beautiful and informative blog called the Lisa Porter Collection and after following her musings for over four years, I have immense respect for her viewpoint.  Lisa is the stylish, smart friend you just have to check in with daily and see what she weighs in on everything from blueberries to fashion.  She is a fabulous cook and baker, and you just know she creates a beautiful Nest for her family in Lexington, Kentucky --...I love how she champions artists and talents and their perspective on her blog too -- check out this incredible recipe she has shared...

¾ cup warm orange juice
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3 to 3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Orange Icing:
1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice
Tip: Use a citrus zester and citrus juicer for fresh zest and freshly squeezed juice. Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm orange juice and yeast; stir and let sit until yeast is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add sugar, egg, melted butter, salt, and orange zest; beat until mixture is smooth. Add 2 cups flour; stir until well mixed. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too sticky.
Place dough in a well greased bowl; turn dough over once to grease the top. Cover bowl with a small kitchen towel and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Prepare one 13x9x2 inch oblong pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening.
Punch dough down then turn onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough briefly, 4 to 5 times. Roll the dough into an 18 inch by 9 inch rectangle.
using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough with melted butter to within ½ inch of the edges.
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar cinnamon mixture evenly over buttered dough to within ½ inch of the edges. Sprinkle with raisins and pecans (optional). Roll-up dough jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch the seams together to seal. Slice dough into 1½ inch pieces and place about ½ inch apart in baking pan.
Cover and let rolls rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake rolls 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove rolls from oven. Place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool.
Orange Icing:
In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, butter, vanilla, orange zest, and enough orange juice to make a good spreading consistency. Spread icing onto still slightly warm rolls.
Makes 12 rolls
Tip: This recipe takes a little extra time so I always double the batch!

I hope you and your loved ones have a Very Merry, Joyous & Peaceful Christmas celebration..

Lisa Porter's delicious orange glazed cinnamon rolls