When I was a child, my mom would make strudel for breakfast on Christmas morning. It's an old family recipe and even the recipe sheet looked fabulously vintage, like it carried the secret of the best strudel on earth. Her copy was written on a single piece of typing paper, folded, creased, yellowed and browned from being splattered with ingredients over the years. The recipe takes two days to make. On day one you mix the dough then refrigerate it for 8 hours or overnight. Day two you knead the dough, roll it, fill it, shape the pastry loaf, let it rise for 5 hours, bake, cool and then drizzle the brown sugar glaze over the top. It's pretty time intensive, which is why my mom stopped making it when I was 12. It just took up so much time and as soon as all three of us knew about Santa and she wasn't up at 3 am putting out gifts, she wasn't willing to get up that early to prepare the strudel for rising. (I can't blame her. After a decade of no sleep on Christmas day, I might put a tradition on hold so I could enjoy sleeping in, too!) It was the Christmas when I was 12 that she announced she wasn't going to make it. But I loved strudel so I made it that year. And I made it for us several years after that, the last time being Christmas of 1998 before I left for college. I was 17.
Fast forward nine years to this week. I had copied my mom's recipe on a single sheet of paper for myself the last time I made it. Unfortunately I believed at 17 that I could never forget how to make strudel, so I just listed the ingredients, baking temp & time and the most basic instructions. Of course, I had forgotten a lot. I stumbled through the recipe and luckily, the strudel turned out okay.
Actually, it was more than okay. It was divine. You can't buy pastries like this any more. Panera Bread's Pecan Rolls kind of resemble the taste, but I never have been able to find it's equal. We cut into one last night, before we took the warm pastries to friends, and that first bite was like returning to a long lost place in time. It really brought back happy memories of Christmas, when the magic of a fat man coming down the chimney was so real! I had never made it for Brian before and I was flattered with how impressed he was. Then he wanted to know why I hadn't made it every year! (See: 2 days to make.) We're going to enjoy having it this year. Even Aiden had a little nibble!
Aiden, I know you're small and you don't understand what Christmas is yet, but I mostly did it for you. I have missed the tradition of having strudel and I couldn't think of any better time to bring it back than at your first Christmas. We have combined some of our favorite Sullivan & Silver holiday traditions and I hope they are the foundation for many memorable Decembers to come. Of course, since several of the traditions involve cookies and pastries, maybe a trip to the dentist in January should also become a tradition! LOL!
Friends: I am planning on digi scrapping myself the full recipe, since my little hand-written one leaves so much out. I'm actually going to re-create the vintage look of my mom's recipe sheet and have it printed, probably as an 8x10 so it can be kept with my large cook books. If any of you would like a copy, just leave me a comment and I'll get one to you!